A New Book Points to Unconventional Ways that Architecture Shapes Society

Radical Architecture of the Future by Beatrice Galilee highlights more than 75 projects that spur social and political change.
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RADICAL ARCHITECTURE OF THE FUTURE by Beatrice Galilee, Phaidon,
240 pages, $60. Courtesy Phaidon

Lately, everyone seems to be dreaming of building a better “future”—a post-COVID future free of abusive power structures and rooted in decolonization, equity, and environmental protection. What role can architecture play in making all of this happen? A new Phaidon book by New York–based critic and curator Beatrice Galilee highlights more than 75 innovative projects that model how the built environment shapes social and political change.

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Portrait of a family in Flint, Michigan. Courtesy of Latoya Ruby Frazier and Gavin Brown’s Enterprise, New York and Rome

Through five themed chapters, Radical Architecture of the Future advocates a cross-disciplinary approach to architecture and highlights “ways in which architecture contributes to society without building,” whether through performance, VR, game design, or other media. Flipping through the volume, readers will glimpse conventional projects—David Adjaye’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (right) or Francis Kéré’s eucalyptus-clad Lycée Schorge school in Burkina Faso, for example—alongside film stills from Black Panther and LaToya Ruby Frazier’s portraits of families in Flint, Michigan, as they contend with a drinking-water crisis.

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Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of African American History and Culture Courtesy of Alan Karchmer/NNMAAHC

While Galilee points to architecture’s direct contribution to the current “ecological catastrophe,” and its role in upholding an “unjust social order of white male privilege,” she selected works that also demonstrate the profession’s evolution to include diverse voices and methodologies. She writes: “One thing that became clear is that the terms under which architecture exists today—permanent, patriarchal, capitalistic, and upholding a Western canon—have changed.”

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Categories: Arts + Culture