On 'Black Urbanism'

Architects and researchers are looking into the influences of African and African-American culture on urbanism.

"Rarely do we allow much thought to seemingly generic labels such as "urban." Outside the cloistered world of architecture, "urban" has become a synonym for "Black and Latino" where it is used to describe things from fashion to music. Facing this reality is the explicit purview of The Office for Metropolitan Alternatives (Office/MA), a group founded by Paul Goodwin and John Oduroe to investigate how the aesthetics of Black Diasporic culture could influence and inspire architectural form making."

"It may appear that their project shares much in common with Teddy Cruz, who draws from the spatial strategies of border communities and shantytowns in order to build a more adaptive architecture. But then - Cruz doesn't exactly brand his research as "Latin urbanism." So is "Black urbanism" just a provocation, or do the spatial resistance strategies of urban black communities differ from other immigrant and diasporic communities?"

Paul Goodwin: "From my perspective, black urbanism is a diagnostic tool for understanding 21st century urbanism. Blackness has become a mode of urban subjectivity at this particular global juncture, in a time when hip hop and various forms of black popular culture are very widespread. We're interested in the relationship between various forms urban culture and the production of urban space. The question we are asking is how can this incredible cultural energy-not only hip-hop but also everyday socio-spatial practices-be translated in to spatial form. Black and immigrant communities have and are contributing to the development of cities in the west; this is the space of what I want to call 'Black Urbanism.'"

Full Story: Office/MA: Black Urbanism


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