Collaboration: unresolved forms of working together


with Min Kyung Lee

The Routledge Companion to Critical Approaches to Contemporary Architecture

Swati Chattopadhyay
and Jeremy White

In their decision to award the 2015 Turner Prize to Assemble, the award committee highlighted the collective’s community-based work in Liverpool’s long overlooked and disenfranchised Granby Four Streets. It was the first time a group has been granted the prestigious art prize and the first time the Turner committee recognized an architectural practice. The partnership that developed between the Assemble collective, residents of Granby Four Streets, and the community land trust continues today, as they work together on the design and construction of projects for the neighborhood. In their citation for the 2016 Pritzker Prize, the jury praised the method of social engagement underlying Alejandro Aravena’s commitment to social housing. Drawing on the mutirão tradition, Aravena’s Half a House project in Iquique, Chile, was discussed as a model for a participatory approach to architecture: a lot is equipped with basic housing infrastructure, then half built, the remainder filled in at the discretion of the inhabitants
over time. Highlighting the open-source ethos of the work, Aravena placed the housing plans online, relinquishing his claims to individual ownership and intellectual property. Coincident with the Pritzker, Aravena was named the director of the 15th Venice Architecture Biennale, where his curatorial proposal focused broadly on architecture’s role in shaping the human condition in the face of increasing environmental and social precocity (Aravena 2016). These events signal an increasing valorization of collective and multidisciplinary practices in the shaping of the built environment. In all of them, an object-driven approach to the assessment of
architecture is replaced by a recognition of process-driven strategies that emphasize collaboration.