• Collaborative architecture Barcelona: The architect as enabler

Avilla Royo, Raul, 2022, Thesis, Collaborative architecture Barcelona: The architect as enabler PhD thesis, Royal College of Art.

Abstract or Description:

The way in which architecture understands itself as a discipline and a practice is changing due to a growing involvement of community organisations in city design. Among the many cities where this shift is taking place, the socio-political and architectural contexts that shape it are studied in Barcelona. The design thinking of the celebrated Barcelona Model that once transformed the city during the 1980s-90s was unable to address the urban problems that resulted from the real estate speculation and the 2008 financial crisis, which led to a rise of social movements. Community architects demanded the politicisation of architecture at all levels and stronger, socially committed agendas. Framed by calls for a right to the city, social justice and environmental sustainability, young architects have started to advocate architecture as a tool for social transformation and a redefinition of architectural practice.

This thesis explores the impact of collaborative practice within and beyond the discipline of architecture by studying protocols of civic engagement. Analysing architecture as a (collaborative) process rather than as a product, this thesis closely studies how collaborative practices are redefining boundaries between the architectural project, social modes of government and urban policy-making. It does so by focusing on the role of community architects' as enablers who challenge existing power relations, knowledge asymmetries, professional expertise and uneven responsibilities in the making of architecture.

This PhD works at the intersection of practice and theory, using a practice-based research and inductive mixed-methods approach that includes Participatory Action Research (PAR), qualitative research and theoretical research. A Toolkit for Collaborative Architecture is developed to document and analyse collaborative practices, design tools and methods. The Toolkit structures a theorisation of practice and is a means to analyse and reflect on practice processes or outcomes through the use of case studies or live projects. Through the Toolkit and PAR, collaboration as developed as a mode of production has been both the analysed topic and a fundamental research process of this thesis.

This thesis contributes to the theory and practice of architecture by providing an analysis of a disciplinary shift in architectural practices brought about by collaborative practices (from traditional studios to collectives, associations and workers’ cooperatives), new production processes (architects' new roles as enablers using collaborative design methods, and the design opportunities that emerge from these), and outcomes (both spatial and non-spatial). At the same time, the Toolkit makes a methodological contribution to analysing and instrumentalising practice in research while offering a projective tool that aims an impact in further architectural collaborative practices.

Qualification Name: PhD
Subjects: Architecture > K100 Architecture
School or Centre: School of Architecture
Funders: London Doctoral Design Centre scholarship; Arts and Humanities Research Council, UK Research and Innovation (AHRC UKRI -LDoc) [2116335], “La Caixa” Foundation scholarship for postgraduate studies in Europe
Uncontrolled Keywords: collaborative design; urban governance; social movements; community-led design; cooperative housing
Date Deposited: 01 Dec 2022 12:28
Last Modified: 01 Dec 2022 12:28
URI: https://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/id/eprint/5221
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