Architecture’s Supply Chains
Production Networks and Material Circuits in the Building Industry
Like the production of many commodities, also the construction industry is organized within global or translocal networks. Dispersed sites of extraction or production, processing and logistics within cities and urban hinterlands worldwide are connected by complex infrastructural arrangements. They enable the circulation of materials as well as immaterial commodities and thus the exploitation of spatial difference from the urban to the planetary scale. These production and infrastructure systems have massive impacts on urbanization processes and the urban form by creating splintered landscapes, altering or reinforcing patterns of socio-spatial inequality.
This seminar explores the spatiality of supply chains, the physical infrastructures and logistics operations enabling commodity flows, their local and translocal urban impacts. It introduces key theoretical debates on commodity chains, logistics, infrastructure and urbanization through a series of readings in architecture and urban studies, political economy, human geography and anthropology, covering different geographical contexts in the Global South and North. Students will develop individual case studies tracing the production and circulation of specific building materials. In small group projects, we will map and analyze sites of extraction/processing and distribution feeding selected building sites in Berlin.
Through the engagement with the case studies and literature rooted in different strands of critical theory the seminar aims to build a sensitivity regarding the socio-economic relations and power structures embodied in architecture’s supply chains.
Participants may choose to develop
* a case study as a group project with regular interim poster presentations (6 ECTS)
* individual term papers (3 ECTS)
Weekly reading assignments are essential in preparation of the sessions and mandatory for all participants.