Minoring Architectural Research

A theoretical and practical reflection on the possibilities, positions and methodologies of a minor approach to architectural research will reveal key concepts and tools to establish a critical position, build a situated architectural investigation and produce research materials otherwise.

Minor architectures are an open repertoire of spatial practices and know-hows based on the immanent differentiating agency of bodies. They feed on the circumstantial and experimental, operating in the narrow margins and blind spots of major languages, structures and knowledge, unsettling them and creating other worlds. While minor architectures work with and within materially limited spaces, tools and conditions, they enlarge the world through forms of plural material entanglement. Minor architectures have been studied by different authors and under different names in the last few decades, from Gordon Matta-Clark’s and Robin Evans’ parallel anarchitectures to the work of Jennifer Bloomer or Jill Stoner. These practitioners have sought to unveil those practices affecting the organization of our everyday space—how bodies interact, how environments mediate. From those origins, we seek to conceive within this doctoral course what a minor architectural research could mean and bring to our practice.

Departing from Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari initial use of the term to read anew Franz Kafka’s literature, we will describe and frame this notion as a way of working with the living and material core of architectural practices, as well as its relations with the major practices and languages of the discipline and its institutions. We will consider the relation between that living and material core and political agency, to reframe the relation between spatial practices and the imaginaries and actions of the multitude around our living together. To do this we will contemplate the potentialities of studying, both in historical and operative terms, the conflict of the spatial forms and practices of the major languages and those of minor practices.

We will also consider a different genealogy of the architectural body, against (and beyond) the Vitruvian man and the ideal of a singular, male, able, white body and its ensuing geometries and decisions, we will follow the many (other) bodies of spatial practice, from the non-male and racialized body to the overflowing body, the plural body, the formless body, and a long etcetera. Around them, we will define a series of notions, from individual and plural spatialities, touch, traces, dispositions, and ecologies of signs. This exercise will help us articulate a minor vocabulary able to analyze otherwise material practices and conflicts from an architectural lens.

Alongside, we propose to explore the uneven relations of architectural research to temporalities both in its objects and subjects of knowledge. Effectively, the minor enables us to reconsider the proximities and distances of plural temporalities to our worlds, questioning the presents, pasts, futures, future pasts and past futures and their a/effect on the actual, and how they are produced and reproduced. It unveils in which way the past as an epistemological category has been used as an imperialist instrument of relegation and subjugation of practices and knowledge, and how the minor, as a contact zone, invites us to dissolve Time in plural temporalities to work with.

From that minor framework, we will then consider its consequences for architectural research and develop a series of considerations, explorations and tools to propose a minor conceptualisation of architectural methodologies of research. The participants in this doctoral course will be invited to apply them in a case study corresponding to their ongoing PhD thesis that will be worked upon throughout the duration of the course. The participants’ outcome will be this minor analysis, a preliminary outline of a minor research plan to follow up on their initial findings and a critical reflection on the notion of methodology in architectural research. For students who don’t have a situation of analysis (or not yet), one case study will be provided to develop their minor analysis.

An EPFL doctoral seminar taught with Julien Lafontaine Carboni
More information at minoringarchitecturalresearch.com