Category Archives: Blame the architect

The Pruitt-Igoe Myth

The Pruitt-Igoe Myth Screen Shot 2014-02-03 at 14.06.07

Great news! You can now watch the documentary The Pruitt-Igoe Myth online at An essential part for you Design as Politics education!

It began as a housing marvel. Two decades later, it ended in rubble. But what happened to those caught in between? The Pruitt-Igoe Myth tells the story of the transformation of the American city in the decades after World War II, through the lens of the infamous Pruitt-Igoe housing development and the St. Louis residents who called it home.

The film analyzes the impact of the national urban renewal program of the 1950s and 1960s, which prompted the process of mass suburbanization, emptying cities of residents, businesses and industries. Those left behind, like the residents of Pruitt-Igoe, faced a destitute, rapidly de-industrializing St. Louis, parceled out to downtown interests and increasingly segregated by class and race. Domestic turmoil was wrought by punitive public welfare policies; the paternalistic Housing Authority was cash-strapped; and the downward spiral of vacancy, vandalism and crime led to resident protest and action during the 1969 Rent Strike.

And yet, despite this complex history, Pruitt-Igoe has often been stereotyped. The world-famous image of its implosion has helped to perpetuate a myth of failure, a failure that has been used to critique Modernist architecture, attack public assistance programs and stigmatize public housing residents. The Pruitt-Igoe Myth seeks to set the historical record straight…to implode the myth.

Design as Politics Exhibition @ BK City

From May 22nd until June 13th, the Design as Politics exhibition which was developed within the framework of the 5th IABR: Making city, will be shown on various locations within the TU Delft, faculty of Architecture. Pass by if you’re around!

Design as Politics
Architecture is politics. Why? Because the city is politics. The city is the place where money, power, business, culture, religion and leisure come together, each fighting for primacy. The exhibition ‘Design as Politics’ shows these fights through spectacular three-dimensional images. They show how an entire district was sacrificed for a beautiful project, how bringing the Olympics to a city can lead to social unrest and how political revolutions can throw a wrench in the works of great architectural projects.

But if architecture is politics, then architects and urbanists must make careful choices in their design and planning. Students within the Design as Politics design studios are therefore challenged to take a clear position in the ongoing urban conflict. The exhibition shows a selection of these projects.

Finally, the exhibition plays the soundtrack of the urban conflict, focusing on how popmusic has always chosen a side concerning the politics of the city. These examples range from Marvin Gaye’s Inner City Blues, to The Clash’s Guns of Brixton to the Grime music that accompanied the 2011 London riots.

The Design as Politics exhibition is supported by the International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam (IABR), TU Delft, the Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment, the City of Rotterdam, Crimson Architectural Historians, and de Hofbogen B.V.

Wouter Vanstiphout @ Strelka Talks

Damn the Masters Plan

A few weeks ago, Wouter Vanstiphout was asked to speak for ‘Strelka Talks’ – a cool new initiative by the Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design, for which they invite speakers from various field for a 30 minute video talk on “critically important topics concerning contemporary cities and urban development.”

Wouters gave a talk under the name “Damn the Masters’ Plan!”, based on our blame the architect lecture series where he analyses the complex correlation between certain types of urban development and the deeply rooted discontent of the citizens. Check it out!

The Strelka Talks are curated by Anastassia Smirnova and will eventually all become available to the general public on their Vimeo Channel.

NRC en de Soundtrack bij de Rellen

Gister (3mei) in het Cultureel Supplement ‘Kunst en politiek’ van het NRC Handelsblad en vandaag (4mei) in de NRC NEXT:  een twee pagina groot artikel van Bernard Hulsman over de tentoonstelling Design as Politics!

Het stuk gaat voornamelijk in op het verhaal achter de driedimensionale collages met als centraal thema de relatie tussen popmuziek en stadsrellen.  Van de punkband The EX tijdens de Amsterdamse krakersrellen via NWA’s Fuck the Police en de LA Riots naar Ill manors en de Britse rellen van vorig jaar. Interessant voor zowel de architecten als de muziekliefhebbers onder ons (liefst beide). Check it out!

Blame the Architect Assignment

Dear students from the Blame the Architect lecture series,

The submission deadline for your riot video has expired on the 15th of March. We look very much forward to enjoy your creations!  Below you find a list of student numbers from which we received a movie. Not on the list? Send an email to Marta Relats. We will grade you around the 30th of April.

Received video’s + grade:
1210696     7,5
1285343       7
1302693       9
1387324    6,5
1509934       6
1353063       7
1362178        8
1516981     7,5
4120590       6
4125622       6 

Lecture Series Video

Dear students of the Blame the Architect lecture series,

This is what you should do to get your grade.

Make a Youtube video of 5 to 10 minutes, describing an urban riot that could happen in a place you know. Incorporate the themes presented in the lecture series and project them on a fictional situation, giving special attention to the role of architecture and urban planning. Use images, texts, maps, diagrams, drawings, numbers or just use your hands. Be creative! Like the Danish.

If you need more inspiration click Here, Here, Here and Here. Still completely lost? Follow the Roadmap below:

1. Select a city you know well that holds the ingredients needed for an Urban riot
2. Describe the urban and political history of the city in so far relevant for the incidents
3. Describe the social, economic and political structure of the city relevant to the incidents
4. Imagine, describe and visualize a triggering event
5. Describe and visualize the ensuing riots
6. Describe the use of modern media
7. Describe the physical and social effects on the city
8. Imagine and visualize the role of popular culture
9. Imagine the possible role of architects before and after the riots
10. Use the story to demonstrate your opinion and analysis of the relationship between architecture and urban violence

Your deadline is March 15th and you can send the link of your video to Students who cannot make it can also contact Marta and make a personal arrangement. This can be done until one week before the deadline. As promised, we added some (strongly) recommended literature at the end of this page

Blame the Architect update

Tomorrow Tuesday 10th January, 10.45-12.45, Berlagezaal 1

“Racaille!” The Banlieue riots, France 2005 -part II
“Broken city” The 2011 UK riots
Assignment description

Hope to see you all tomorrow!