And the plan is to invent the means in a common experiment launched from any kitchen, any back porch, any basement, any hall, any park bench, any improvised party, every night. This ongoing experiment with the informal, carried out by and on the means of social reproduction, as the to come of the forms of life, is what we mean by planning; planning in the undercommons is not an activity, not fishing or dancing or teaching or loving, but the ceaseless experiment with the futurial presence of the forms of life that make such activities possible.1
An experiment carried out by ourselves and others on both ourselves and others. The work of Stefano Harney and Fred Moten points toward a horizon and a scenography. Or, better yet, scenes filled with horizons – any basement, any hall, any improvised party. Planning in the undercommons is fugitive, prolonged, ongoing and everywhere. Every night. Architecture, in all its manifestations, is a study in these horizon-filled spaces. One that touches life through the spaces and environments life both depends on and within which it can flourish.
Our school is an ongoing, collective experiment made up of students, parents, support staff, cleaners, administrators, teachers, friends, researchers, colleagues and collaborators. This experiment exists along multiple timescales, in different forums and across a wide range of formats. That’s already a lot. It’s mainly polyphony, sometimes cacophony. We might make a building, write a novel, or shoot a film. Our commitment and engagement with the issues that provoke us is shared, even if that pursuit leads in radically different directions.
The following is less an exhaustive reflection of our activity, than something like a mixtape – a compilation of polyphonous cuts that seem relevant and important to the way we think about design and architectural education right now:
Stefano Harney & Fred Moten, "The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning and Black Study" (2013) ↩