Cloisterf*ck — House of Common Affairs Journal #2

Blending architecture and journalismhas the potential to counter propaganda and ‘fake news’.

Some of the featured projects bring fresh hope that a new wave of fact-centred practices can convince the public, bring forth justice, and, once again, hold those in power accountable.The rest of the interviews offer a broader set of questions about contemporary architectural practice in relation to current affairs as well as critical views on architectural research.

In the previous issue of the HOCA journal, some graphic designers compared their practice with architects’ and referenced the built environment. It seemed natural to try to unpack that in the next issue, therefore this one is about architecture’s relationship with current affairs and what it has in common with journalism.

In practice, architecture and graphic communication cross over in terms of visualising ideas and information. It’swhen they both aimto represent something in visual form. For example, diagrams that help the audience understand research. That iswhen graphic communication begins to serve the greater good. However, I do notmean that learning howto use Adobe’s InDesign to put text and image togetherwillmake one a graphic designer.

Similarly, learning howto use Revit to create a 3Dmodel of a housewill notmake one an architect.

When architecture or graphic communication combines with journalism, it often includes projects that can be called critical (or speculative) design. Critical design is a type of practice that aims to be abovemainstreamdesign—with a higher calling—whichmeansmaking valuable contributions to societywhilst not serving already established systems.

In architecture, the 1980s and ’90s were the height of critical practice. It was all about using artefacts to question theory and/or relating it to issues in society but usually existed within academia.

Today, students of architecture are still engaging in critical (or speculative) work. For example, Shrödinger’s City by Alexander Findley, uses fictional world-building to critique real-world issues and challenge existing ideas as towhat the built environment can be.

Discourse in graphic communication is not as evolved as it is in architecture. For example, the term‘critical graphic design’ sprang up in 2007, just after the re-issue of the Hertzian Tales book by Dunne & Raby. Graphic designers just decided to adopt Dunne & Raby’s definition of critical design which was problematic onmany levels. Therefore, in some ways, it ismore interesting to focus on how critically and socially engaged architects apply their expertise to create a better future.

This second issue of HOCA introduces a question posed by researcher Stijn Postema: can architecture be journalismand vice versa? It sets a scene for the projects featured in the journal. The Q&A withMoMA’s senior curator, Paola Antonelli, opens up a broader discussion about critically and socially engaged architecture It sets a scene for interviews with different practitioners and features work byMASS Design Group and Kéré Architecture.

The House of Common Affairs (HOCA) is a new, smashing journal about the Fourth Estate Utopias. It provides an opportunity to challenge the niche and yet popular field that exists in the overlap between design and journalism. HOCA invites a more diverse range of voices into the conversation with the aim to promote an international and interdisciplinary exchange of ideas, as well as knowledge. It seeks to offer a space for critical thinking with the aim of provoking further developments in this field.

Cloisterf*ck is the second issue of HOCA and is about the role of architecture in relation to journalism.

‘Aesthetic Truth Work: Mixing Architecture with Journalism’ by Stijn Postema
‘Q&A on Architecture + Current Affairs’ interview with Paola Antonelli
‘Smokescreen’ by SITU / Bora Erden & Matt Cortright
‘Tears Topography’ by Timothy Chan
‘Data: the New Black Gold’ by Ibiye Camp
‘Land of Hope’ by Studio Hartzema & FRESH Research / Aikaterina Myserli & Henk Hartzema
‘Charting a Lean Middle Ground’ interview with James Dixon (Glenn Howells Architects)
‘Sustainable Architecture Avant la Lettre’ interview with Luc Deleu (T.O.P. Office)
‘Architecture is Always Late’ interview with Fernanda Canales
‘Lasting Glow’ by Yining Gao
‘The City Library for Common Collections’ by Mayssa Kanaan
‘The Future is Non-Binary’ interview with Christoph a. Kumpusch (Forward-slash)
‘Queering Crossrail’ by Francesca Rausa
‘Schrődinger’s City’ by Alexander Findley
Forum 3: ‘Bogged Down in Cementics’ with Anne Boddington, Enok Gåsland, John Zhang, Lenka Hámošová, moderated by Paula Minelgaitė

Printed by Pressision Ltd, UK
Paperback, 103 x 195mm, 108 pp
ISSN 2632-4482 02
Edited by Paula Minelgaite
Published by House of Common Affairs, London, UK
Designed by Minelgaite studio