Earlier this semester I read a couple chapters out of the book Spatial Agency: Other Ways of Doing Architecture for a short presentation in our studio. The introduction breaks down the meaning of “Spatial Agency.” Spatial expands on the term architecture; space is a controllable element – dynamic and evolving over time, and sometimes the best solution to developing a space is not necessarily putting a building in it. Splitlog Farm is a great example of this use of spatial development without creating a building. Thanks to the work of Steve Curtis and local elementary schoolers and other volunteers, what was once a vacated house, then torn down and incidentally turned into neighborhood dump, transformed into a thriving community garden and living classroom.
Agency refers to the ability of an individual to act independently of constraining societal structures. Thinking about how we define independence and structure, it’s easy to see the terms as contradicting or opposing as characteristics. The text explains the importance of agency (independence) and social structure working together: they are not opposing concepts, but rather separate elements feeding off of each other. Our studio, as students of architecture, can act as agents for the KCK area. We have the capabilities to think creatively and explore alternative solutions to the improvement of the Bethany Park and Neighborhood area. While we are working independently to bring new ideas to the area, it has taken getting to know the people and the issues of the area (and the existing societal structures) to understand what would be most beneficial in our project ideas.
Chapter 1 in the text then explains 5 “Motivations of Spatial Agency.” Politics, Professionalism, Pedagogy, Humanitarian Crisis, and Ecology are the topics that provide the base and understanding of why and how Spatial Agency is used and developed.
I’ve explained the Introduction and Chapter 1 in greater depth in this Pecha Kucha presentation: Spatial Agency
For more information and the text itself, you can visit: http://www.spatialagency.net/