The Insurgent Architect

Daniel Ibañez | David Harvey | Mariano Gomez-Luque

Harvard Graduate School of Design, March 29th, 2016.
A version of this interview will also appear in David Harvey, Abstract from the Concrete, the third volume in "The Incidents" series, copublished by the Harvard University Graduate School of Design and Sternberg Press, to be released in September, 2016.

Mariano Gomez Luque | Daniel Ibañez Your writings touch an important nerve for us, as architects. They represent a powerful effort to understand the dynamics of capitalism in spatial terms. Your work is an invitation to critically exercise our imaginative powers, and simultaneously a call for action—for finding ways to translate into the domain of space socio-organizational forms that could challenge those already set, defined, and crystallized by the capitalist machine.

Can you tell us more about your personal relationship to the design disciplines? In your most recent book, The Ways of the World, you write: “As an urbanist the whole question of architecture and the role of planning was never far from the surface of my thinking.” Can you elaborate?

David Harvey I have always been interested in the question of the production of space, and have been writing about it for many years. The discourse has a long tradition; some people think that it was invented by Henri Lefebvre, whose 1974 book, The Production of Space, grounded much dialogue, but it was not. In fact, many urban planners from the 1960s, like John Friedmann, were linking planning with the production of space in parallel to Lefebvre’s work.

Spatiality has a very expansive meaning for me: there are relative spaces, relational spaces, absolute spaces. These nuances are crucial to understand if we are to have a stronger connection with the ways in which things get shaped on the ground—this wall here . . . those steps there . . . a bridge over there . . . All of these relative spaces of the city are constantly being produced and reproduced. Then there are symbolic spaces, which have both a relationality and a meaning that are far greater than their mere physical manifestations. Many of these symbolic spaces have the power of a certain centrality, which we see exercised politically in cases like Tahrir Square in Cairo in 2011, or in the Occupy movement in New York. I’m interested in these manifestations, and of course, in the people who are making the walls—the engineers, the architects.Full content is available only for registered users. Please login or Register