Times of Urgencies: What If?


Provisional Cities installation by R. Tyszczuk – Weather Chart – 'Micro-biospheres' – Royal Geographical Society, June 2018; photo: G. Ashurst

On 25 February 2021, I was invited to give a presentation on the occasion of the launch of CUBE and CREATURE Research Centres at London Metropolitan University.

My talk, titled Times of Urgencies: What If? gave an introduction to the Collective Scenarios project.

It reflected on these Times of Urgencies in relation to architecture, spatial practices, urban and built ecologies.

This is an extract from the concluding part of the talk:

The Collective Scenarios project has explored the potential of scenarios as ‘collaborative infrastructures’ or ‘infrastructures of care’ for civic storytelling and rehearsal of climate futures ‘achieved together’. Rehearsing ‘other stories’ in conditions where there is no obvious script for action is about strengthening the imagination, the relationships and commitments (including generosity and hospitality) that can forge new social and economic formations – for living with uncertainty. I have called this the architecture of paying attention. It is a kind of affectively and ethically engaged spatial practice; a supportive structure for ‘practicing futures’ – one that also works to situate research, teaching and practice – however modest their impacts – as practical acts of care that can draw others into a sense of curiosity and concern for a changing world. ‘Paying attention’ (Stengers, 2015; 62) implies risk-taking and experimentation and thinking through the consequences of actions, or, ‘care of the possible’ (Stengers, 2011). In this way, it is also possible to re-imagine what architecture/built environment/ spatial practices might yet become: as infrastructures of collaborative citizenship or infrastructures of care – from re-working daily practices of living to rethinking the broader frameworks of value that render current approaches as the way things are rather than asking how they could be otherwise. If thought of as provisional and porous practices – urban and built ecologies – have the capacity – or convening power – to be supportive structures, multiscalar infrastructures that extend imagination to the ecological, material, political, ethical, social, cultural and economic – and the values therein. Thinking and practicing the future otherwise involves reconsidering responses and responsibilities in the present day as well as reconfiguring ways of imagining the future.