Francisco J. Díaz

Advisor: Felicity Scott

MS.CCCP 2013

Contemporary Section: Modes of architectural production in the first decade of the 21st century

Contemporary Section seeks a new way to develop architecture criticism. The focus on the 21st century operates as a temporal frame as well as an academic constriction, stressing the ways of collecting information; and the subtitle “modes of architectural production” is not only a recognition that architecture is a field with multiple formats, but it is also a disclaimer indicating that this thesis won’t be focused on specific products but rather on their conditions of production.

But should we want to do research on contemporary architecture, we have to face two challenges. Firstly, how can we find relevant information about contemporary cases when there are no archives or critical bibliography? And secondly, how can we go beyond what is visible in order to understand the conditions behind the modes of practice?

To show how contemporary practices are working, this thesis will make metaphorical cuts through several case-studies in order to reveal what lies behind their surface. This implies a détournement of a specifically architectural tool –the section– using it to disclose the operative logics, cultural assumptions, conditions of production, ideological commitments, and mechanisms of survival and reproduction of the objects under analysis.

To get relevant information that allows us to compose each contemporary section, the thesis makes use of interviews through a methodology capable of combining formal and informal sources. Since the underlying question of this thesis is how to make the history of the present, the oral approach gains relevance because each Contemporary Section implies both “making history” as well as “telling a story;” therefore, the exercise of the Contemporary Section aims to develop architectural criticism by borrowing tools from history and journalism.