Contemporary Section: Modes of Architectural Production at the Beginning of the Twenty-first Century

Critical, Curatorial + Conceptual Practices in Architecture, Thesis

Francisco J. Díaz

Felicity Scott, advisor

Contemporary Section seeks a new way to develop architectural criticism. The focus on the twenty-first century operates as a temporal frame that stresses the ways of collecting information, while the subtitle “Modes of Architectural Production,” is not only an statement about architecture as a field whose discourse is deployed in several formats, but also a disclaimer to indicate that this thesis is not focused on specific products but rather on their conditions of production.

In order to show how contemporary practices are working, we have made analogical cuts through several case studies in order to reveal what lies behind their surface. This implies an analogical use of a specifically architectural tool, the section, mobilizing it to disclose—in a written format—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 develop each Contemporary Section, the thesis makes use of journalistic methodologies that combine formal and informal sources. Though, as this project has to be validated within an academic context, we also need to achieve the rigor and verifiability of historical research methodologies. In this regard, each Contemporary Section has the challenge of both “making the history of” and “telling a story about” the current conditions in architecture. Therefore, the exercise of the Contemporary Section aims to develop architectural criticism by borrowing tools from history and journalism.