Critical Environments

Critical Environments

TU Delft Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment

Courtesy of TU Delft.*

May 31, 2024
Critical Environments
Urban Design at TU Delft presents research initiative and symposium
Critical Environments symposium / Transitional Territories exhibition: June 6, 2–7pm
TU Delft Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment
Julianalaan 134
2628 BL Delft
The Netherlands
Instagram (Transitional Territories) / Instagram (Urban Design TU Delft)

The Section of Urban Design at TU Delft is launching a novel research group and initiative on Critical Environments. The platform aims to foreground an environmental and situated approach to design, and a design approach to the environment, contributing towards the construction of post-anthropocenic narratives for the cohabitation of human and more-than-human communities on the planet. 

Critical Environments aspires to serve as a platform for intellectual exchange, collaborative knowledge production and resource commoning. It seeks to integrate design with interdisciplinary perspectives from urban and landscape theory, critical media studies, environmental humanities, environmental studies, and political ecology. Additionally, Critical Environments positions itself at the intersection of science, technology, and the arts, fostering the multiple transdisciplinary connections that emerge from this form of knowledge production.

Critical Environments suggests a focus on environments that are facing critical challenges due to the polycrisis brought about by concurrent, interlinked and interscalar challenges. The simultaneity of climate emergency, humanitarian crisis, biodiversity loss, widespread pollution, and social and ecological inequality are overwhelming places/landscapes across the entire planet. These places are often more-than-human, more-than-city environments that have largely remained at the margins of urbanism research and practice. 

Critical Environments wants to decenter the subject of urbanism from human / city-centric concerns, to emphasize more-than-human / more-than-city dimensions. We aim to place these worlds in the foreground, highlighting their importance in the broader geometabolic interdependencies of urbanization. 

Critical Environments is committed to decipher the hidden externalities of dominant and emerging models of spatial development impacting those landscapes, including green transition(s) schemes, often associated with new forms of extractivism, exploitation, and appropriation of more-than-human work.

Critical Environments highlights the need for developing critical approaches towards understanding and addressing these challenges. Approaches that go beyond solutionism, yet remain reflexively instrumental, highlighting design not only as a form of creative practice, but also as a medium for critical inquiry. Critical Environments wants to work towards the development of situated and grounded urbanisms which empower human and more-than human agents through the development of context/culture sensitive and responsive forms of knowledge. Critical Environments embraces, but also interrogates technoscientific mediums as geospatial modeling, the application of AI and automation technologies, and environmental remote sensing.

Critical Environments wants to enable the envisioning of alternative modes of human and more-than human coexistence, of alterurbanizations: enabling the realization of potentials for inclusive development, political emancipation, ecological justice, and plurality across scales. It aims to develop pluralistic spatio-material approaches to design context, adding to the multiscalar sectional and planimetric approach the bio-chemical volumetric, long durée approach. 

On June 6, 2024, the symposium Critical Environments will kick off the research initiative and will count with the contributions of Ed Wall (University of Greenwich), Stephanie Sherman (Central Saint Martins), Álvaro Sevilla Buitrago (Universidad Politécnica de Madrid), and Sébastien Marot (Université Paris Est / EPFL). This event will be accompanied by a one-day exhibition displaying the work of the Transitional Territories Graduation Studio. The symposium is convened by Nikos Katsikis, Taneha Bacchin, Víctor Muñoz Sanz, and Elena Longhin. 

Thursday, June 6, Berlage Rooms, BK, TU Delft
2–3pm: Transitional Territories Exhibition launch and walk through
3–4:45pm: Critical Environments Symposium / Session I / On Collective Futures and Infrastructures
3–3:15pm: Introduction to Critical Environments
3:15–3:45pm: Ed Wall (Greenwich)
3:45–4pm: Q&A
4–4:30pm: Stephanie Sherman (Central Saint Martins)
4:30–4:45pm: Q&A
4:45–5pm: Break
5–7pm: Critical Environments Symposium / Session II / On Commons and more-than-city Futures
5–5:30pm: Alvaro Sevilla Buitrago  (Universidad Politécnica de Madrid)
5:30–5:45pm: Q&A
5:45–6:15pm: Sebastien Marot (Université Paris Est)
6:15–6:30pm: Q&A
6:30–7pm: Collective discussion on Critical Environments 

Critical Environments is a platform based at the Section of Urban Design at TU Delft, and is led by Taneha Bacchin, Nikos Katsikis, Víctor Muñoz Sanz, and Luisa Maria Calabrese.

*Image above: The Athabasca oil sands, also known as the Athabasca tar sands. Large deposits of bitumen, a heavy and viscous form of petroleum, located in northeastern Alberta, Canada.

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TU Delft Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment
May 31, 2024

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