TOP-DOWN / BOTTOM-UP
with communities, who erect barriers in the name of compliance, who denigrate community engagement as "service" rather than "research" and exalt academic publication as the holy grail of "research impact" need to change. They need to align their effusive narratives about "equity, diversity and inclusion" with actual protocols and policies that elevate institutional capacity to make positive change in the communities that surround them.
We see ourselves as urban curators, facilitating the movement of knowledges and resources across sectors and across urban borders. In this era of polarization, fragmentation and unprecedented privatization, we believe architects and urbanists can intervene in the gap between top-down institutions and bottom-up publics. While we understand the vulnerability of thinking dialectically about urban dynamics, for us thinking top-down / bottom-up has always been a point of entry into more experi-mental thinking "across." In other words, the contested power relations between oppositions has catalyzed fresh political and spatial thinking about horizontally traversing them. In our practice we partner closely with community-based agencies to mobilize bottom-up socio-spatial intelli-gence, to transform top-down policy and redirect institutional resources to support bottom-up agency.
As with any curatorial practice, this work demands epistemic humility and continual reflection on the ethical complexities of joining in solidarity with people struggling against injustice, from the privileged vantage of the academy, the cultural institution or other formal sites of power. We must avoid overconfidence in our capacity to know and say and do things that are relevant and faithful to real experiences. If we aspire even implic-itly to advance justice, fairness and equity on behalf of people who are already marginalized, excluded, dispossessed and exploited, we inflict double harm by assuming that our urban and architectural dreams hold meaning for them, that our wishes for them align with their own.
Here we will demonstrate a model of "co-production" that entails accompanying struggles against urban injustice in real time, and seeking dialogue with people who are receptive to collaboration, weaving diverse skills, knowledges and experiences together into a richer account of struggle and more responsive strategies of resistance, advocacy and urban intervention.1
The Essays: Theoretical Apparatus of a Critical Spatial Practice
The texts, diagrams and images assembled across these two volumes, Spatializing Justice and Socializing Architecture, follow a sequence: from priorities (building blocks), to theories (essays), to projects (project clusters). The priorities we presented in Spatializing Justice ground the theories and projects of our practice, which are elaborated in Socializing Architecture across five essays and six project clusters.
Essay 1 reinterprets urban conflict as a generative framework for design, and an essential backdrop to developing a grounded theoretical and research-based architecture practice. In our case, we radicalized the San Diego-Tijuana border as a global laboratory in which to engage the most intense urban conflicts of our time. Essay 2 investigates ingenious bottom-up practices of urban adaptation and solidarity that spring from conditions...