Architecture does not simply resolve the structural uncertainties of its own material construction. Its scope of design extends to the project itself, including questions of land, rights, representation, agency, audience, and access. Architecture thus inflects and registers the ways in which risk becomes mediated throughout the spatial realm and society at large. The infrastructural breakdown that flammable cladding, rusting steel, and deteriorating concrete all point to—collapsed bridges, charred towers, and crumbling roads—is not only evidence of material degradation, but systemic abandon whose effects ripple far beyond any one site. Structural instability is not just a determinant feature of the built environment, but of contemporary life at large.

With neoliberal politics resigned to upholding the appearance of a functional stability, power increasingly lies in systems of management, organization, and design, often under the apolitical auspices of global finance, corporations, or non-governmental organizations. As a result, we are faced with an intensification in structural conditions of economic precarity, racial segregation, and resource scarcity, alongside the systemic effects of climatic instability, ever-growing waves of refugees and their criminalization by nation states, and the militarization of everyday life. Colonial expansions, states of exception, emergency management, and corporate exceptionalism all inform our understanding of these instabilities and their relationship to historical change, and also our capacities for collective resistance.

Structural Instability is a collaboration between e-flux Architecture and PennDesign.

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7 essays
Mark Wasiuta and Farzin Lotfi-Jam
Information is still unstable, but the scene of its instability has shifted. Through loss, noise, entropy, and error, an informational predilection to…
The late British architectural critic and historian Reyner Banham, who was originally trained as an aeronautical engineer, was an early advocate for i…
Susanne Schindler
Today, most public officials and policy think tanks across the United States conceptualize the lack of affordable housing—and the related issue of s…
Anooradha Iyer Siddiqi
Arguments presented here grew from the deep input of refugees and aid workers I met in camps in Kenya and Ethiopia, and elsewhere. I am thinking caref…
I. The Alchemy of Debt In the early 1980s, architect Yona Friedman and artist Jean-Pierre Giovanelli undertook a project titled une intervention su…
During the 1940s, Buckminster Fuller produced a number of maps of the earth with the title or caption “world energy” and “energy slave.” Produ…
Daniel A. Barber, Eduardo Rega, and e-flux Architecture
Structural Instability is a collaboration between e-flux Architecture and PennDesign, featuring contributions by Ginger Nolan, Whitney Moon, Peg Rawes…
Management & Bureaucracy
Accidents & Disasters, Crisis, Precarity, State & Government

Structural Instability is a collaboration between e-flux Architecture and PennDesign.


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