Remixing Architectural Discourse

Christina Schaller 
→MArch 2018
In the graduate Architecture course Disciplinarity, taught by Architecture professor and department head Amy Kulper, each week we were given a set of readings centered around contemporary debates in architectural discourse and asked to respond with a quote, definition, image, and written response. In my responses I chose to use the act of sampling to shift each debate toward a social perspective. For this piece, the debate was “De-, Un-, Trans-, Multi-, Inter-: The One or the Many?” I paired a quote by Nina Simone that was sampled in Noname’s album Telefone with the definition of freedom. In the text, I pulled together short excerpts from the week’s course readings as well as from sources outside of the course to question the role of transdisciplinarity. The bracketed text is my way of bringing different voices together and including my own.

. . .

“What’s free to me? Just a feeling ... it’s just a feeling. It’s like how do you tell somebody how it feels to be in love? How are you going to tell anybody who has not been in love how it feels to be in love? You cannot do it to save your life. You can describe things, but you can’t tell them. But you know it, when it happens. That’s what I mean by “free.” I had a couple times on stage when I really felt free, and that’s something else. That’s really something else! I’ll tell you what freedom is to me: No fear!”—Nina Simone

Freedom | free•dom | Noun:
the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.
the state of being physically unrestricted and able to move easily.

“[Discipline] is associated with punishment, control, oppression, and pain. Interdisciplinarity … [has the] potential to serve as a euphemism of academic or artistic freedom.”(1) “[Transdisciplinarity involves] the formation of knowledges that require our disciplinary scholarship and technique but demand that we abandon disciplinary mastery and surveillance.”(2) “In cities in the United States, we cannot pretend that all bodies have the freedom to move through, occupy, and enjoy public space. The perception of black and brown bodies gathering in public space routinely reads as suspect, criminal, or illegitimate.”(3) “Monumental structures of concrete and steel embody a systematic social inequality, a way of engineering relationships among people.”(4) “These features of the built environment control and constrain our behavior.”(5) [How can transdisciplinarity be used to achieve real freedom in our built environment?]

1. Mark Linder, “Transdisciplinarity,” Hunch: The Berlage Institute Report, n. 9 (2005), 13.
2. Homi Bhabha, “Translator Translated: W. J. T. Mitchell Talks with Homi Bhabha,” Artforum (March 1995), 118.
3. Iris Ferguson, “How Urban Design Perpetuates Racial Inequality—and What We Can Do About It,” Co.Design (July 2016).
4. Langdon Winner, “Do Artifacts Have Politics?,” Daedalus(Winter 1980), 124.
5. Sarah B. Schindler, “Architectural Exclusion: Discrimination and Segregation through Physical Design of the Built Environment,” Yale Law Journal (April 2015), 1,934.