Hostile Environments Workshop

Workshop to devise a public hearing 

An amended* invitation** to join a Workshop to Devise a Public Hearing

Dear Ged and Sara, Rosa, Lo, Emily, Alessio, Michael and Nathaniel 

We wrote on behalf of BREAK//LINE, a collective of staff and students based at the Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment at UCL. BREAK//LINE was formed with a radical agenda. To date we have held events and actions within the Bartlett which have questioned isolationist, individualising working and teaching practices, have sought to understand the university’s complicity as an arm of the state’s violent, racist bordering practices, and have enacted and celebrated alternatives, always and already present. 

In our next phase of work, we investigate the spatial representations, practices and experiences of hostile environments in higher education, including but also going beyond the widely discredited but prevailing government policy of hostility towards people deemed to be undesirable immigrants to the UK. We intended for our investigations to take the form of a week long ‘public hearing’ in October/November 2019, inviting members of the Bartlett faculty, built environment field and general public to engage with, respond to and create ‘readings’ of the university. We hoped this ‘public hearing’  would allow for the expression of experiences and a collective form of listening through which we can further build an analysis of the current state of affairs; of the failings of institutions; of sites and practices which must be dismantled; and of existing, nascent and yet-to-be-realised modes which should be celebrated, supported, and imagined. Following K Punk and Ursula K Le Guin, we believe architectural education must be as much about unbuilding as building. These plans had to pivot in light of a new baby (shout out Ruby), a PhD viva (Thandi), a PhD submission to come soon-soon (Miranda) and a pandemic (All). This project has since evolved, informed by the discussions, ideas and provocations of this devising workshop into a series of publications hosted here as UNBUILDING. 

Our plans have been informed and inspired by: your Affordability Study at Central St Martins to map and analyse the costs of the MArch course and share its impact on students (Michael); your contributions to the decolonial reading group and your work in performance, particularly the wonderful A Chicken’s Life/Belly of the World (Rosa); your NEXT 100 YEARS? roundtable discussions which aimed to encourage a wider and more diverse dialogue around the future of our communities and the built environment (Sara and Ged); your research into LGBTQ+ nightlife, and particularly your presentation of this work at the International Women’s Day teach out during the strike last year (Lo); all your tireless work at the Bartlett (and in particular the help you've given us with all our events so far!) (Emily);  your contributions to the Decolonial Reading group, your brilliant confessional earlier this year at the Bartlett, and your work through Pesolife (Nathaniel); and your work with Plan C and the potential of such radical politics in pedagogical spaces (Alessio).

It was our honour to have you join us on the afternoon of Monday 22 July 2019, 14:00 - 16:30 at 22 Gordon Street, WC1H 0QB for a closed workshop. Through this workshop, we devised the guiding questions, provocations and declarations our ‘public hearing’ would pose, and the innovative forms through which we would engage communities within and beyond the Bartlett. We offered £80 as an honorarium, acknowledging that this amount can only hint at the value of people’s time and knowledge. You will be publicly asserted as a key contributor to this project and work, on top of the recognition of the contribution your research has already made.

We are grateful for the time, contributions and efforts of those who attended this devising workshop and/or submitted materials to a library of reference projects and ideas informing the work: Ged Ribas Goody and Sara Herrera Dixon, Rosa Johan-Uddoh, Lo Marshall, Emily Stone, Alessio Koliulis, Michael Kennedy and Nathaniel Telemaque.

In solidarity

*August 2020** July 2019