Remote Practices: Architecture’s tools and the challenge of Globalization

Co-Pl, NUS-USYD Strategic Partnership Grant. With Co-PI Dr Matthew Mindrup (University of Sydney).



Earlier this year we proposed a CFP entitled “remote practices” to explore how architecture’s complex and distant interfaces are being intensified through a mass globalisation of the discipline. In it we sought to explore how the remote practice of architecture has become inherent in the way phases of early ideation to late production could take on surprising transformations as architects and critics use different tools to manifest ideas and imaginations to the otherwise distant and invisible; to design, describe and critique future and past constructions in absentia.

As people retreated to their homes in the recent pandemic, the business of doing architecture in schools and offices also shifted into their temporary holding spaces. It made many of the issues we wished to discuss in the original CFP more timely. Architecture, a discipline which thrives on expression and imagination, and which had already been remotely practised by way of translation across different media and sites, now takes on a further dimension of distancing; this time in the absence of a physical community of architects, designers, teachers and students.

The distances between these different modes of doing architecture—drawings, diagrams and models, manifestos and critiques in the printed form; augmented reality walkthroughs and digital films; digital prefabrication technologies, and the built form—create several thresholds by which architecture may already be understood as a remote practice. In the past few months the practice and education of architecture has faced a temporary cessation of travel, closure of many construction sites and an absence of office environments where ideas can be openly discussed and materialised through conversation. What are the local and global implications which the remote practice of architecture entails, for the pedagogy, practice and critique of architecture?