As the world's political scene grows more and more volatile, architects are increasingly considering ways of using their work to lend support to activist movements. Bracket [Takes Action], a new book co-edited by Mason White, a Daniels Faculty professor, and Neeraj Bhatia, an associate professor of architecture at the California College of the Arts, aims to introduce readers to new ways of making change in the world through design.
"The interest was in understanding architecture and design's activist agency today," White says. "We wanted to compile writing on how architects and the impacts of design in the public realm foster or interact with modes of activism. This could be through the act of design, the design process, or through thematic investigations."
[Takes Action] — the fourth in a series of publications in the Bracket series, which White co-founded in 2008 — consists of 43 different essays and design projects. The contents are split into six different thematic groups: ReAction, CounterAction, InterAction, FAction, InAction, and RetroAction. Each theme highlights a different way designers are responding to the socio-political moment.
The book's segmented structure enables it to include submissions on a variety of topics, from many different sources. Its contributors include Yoshiharu Tsukamoto, from Atelier Bow-Wow; Mariam Kamara, of the Niger-based firm Atelier Masōmī; and Matthew Mazzotta, an American artist who frequently incorporates activism into his work. Another contributor is Azadeh Zaferani, a graduate of the Daniels Faculty's Master of Urban Design program, who wrote about the transformation of public space in Tehran.
"The contributors are looking at anything from housing rights, to social media's impact on public space, to squatting," White says. "And some contributors are looking at refugee camps, or contested access to energy. And sometimes they're just asking what role technology plays, looking at how the internet gets used in public space to advocate for overlooked voices or oppressed peoples."
Bracket [Takes Action] is now available for purchase on Amazon, or from the publisher at a 30 per cent discount — but buying the book isn't the only way to engage with its contributors' ideas. Throughout the fall, the Daniels Faculty and the California College of the Arts will be co-hosting a series of online talks with Bracket's writers and editors. The first one, on ReAction and CounterAction, took place on September 16. Two more are planned: InterAction and FAction, on October 7, and InAction and RetroAction, on November 11. These events will be free of charge and open to the public.