The Soft Infrastructures of Value (Re)Production in Architectural Education

Mia Roth-Čerina and Andrea Čeko presented at the RAPS (Radical Architecture Practice for Sustainability) 2022 Eindhoven conference 'Radical Entanglements: Architectures, Societies, Environments, Politics' co-organized by RAPS, ARENA, TU Eindhoven on November 11 and 12 2022.

Besides the obvious delivery of transversal skills and development of a way of thinking, architectural education serves as a vehicle of assimilation into this hidden power-play, affirmed and cultured through an array of rituals serving the existing power equilibrium. From Henri Lefebvre’s theoretical concept of space (re)production to Michel Foucault’s sense of positioning oneself within these power relationships, they take shape from the very beginning (quote the interrelationship of power, subjectivity, and knowledge formation). When considering space and architecture as tools to (re)produce values, according to anthropologist David Graeber, values are a word used to invoke the sense of user and exchange (financial) value, value as meaning, and values as ethics. In its hidden process of culturing an architect, values that architectural education can produce occur differently in what political economist Massimo De Angelis has called 'value practices'. Within particular sets of circumstances, values are here entangled with actions and process emergent in social aims, as a correspondent 'web of relations', or the soft infrastructures. The work builds arguments on the findings of the European Erasmus+ Architecture's Afterlife research project whose aim is to identify the multi-sector impact of an architecture degree and the extent to which skills taught to architecture students are needed in other sectors. The study detects certain 'other values' among the answers of its in-depth interviews, as 'other' to the dominant, market-driven neoliberal narrative within architectural education. They are the values of commoning, mutuality, and cooperation. Defined as ‘the systems that enable circulation of goods, knowledge, meaning, people and power’, the work seeks to further explore the soft infrastructures of value (re)production as crucial entanglements in architectural education.