In medical terms critical care, also known as intensive care, is a specialized branch of medicine dedicated to diagnosing and treating life-threatening conditions. For this lecture, this term is borrowed to address the planet’s life-threatening condition. Throughout the twenty-first century the condition of the planet has made headlines. The news is not good. The diagnosis is bleak. We have come to understand that anthropogenic climate change and the conditions produced by the racial Capitalocene are straining the planet to its breaking point. The planet we live on and we live with is exhausted, drained, depleted, damaged, broken. Therefore, the planet is urgently in need of critical care to repair livability and inhabitability and to restore its condition for its continued existence in the future.
Architecture and urbanism are at the heart of the modern project of capitalism. Modernist aspirations in architecture were based on the powerful promise of building a better future. Today, we live in the ruins of this promise. This lecture asks in what ways architecture and urbanism starting from the given interdependence of economy, ecology, and labor, can contribute to such critical care taking, acknowledging that there is no promise of a better future, but much rather a process of permanent repair. Following Joan Tronto’s political notion of care as everything we do to maintain and repair ourselves and our environment, the chosen examples in architecture and urbanism provide evidence that through a perspective of care social and environmental justice are not mutually exclusive.
Elke Krasny is Professor for Art and Education at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna. She is a cultural theorist, urban researcher, and curator. Her scholarship and her curatorial work focus on critical practices in architecture, urbanism, and contemporary art addressing the interconnectedness of ecology, economy, labor, memory, and feminisms. Professor Krasny is the author and editor of numerous books and essays. Edited volumes include Critical Care. Architecture and Urbanism for a Broken Planet with Angelika Fitz (MIT Press, 2019), In Reserve! The Household with Regina Bittner (Spector Books, 2016).
- Critical Care Architecture and Urbanism for a Broken Planet Edited by Angelika Fitz, Elke Krasny and Architekturzentrum Wien, MIT Press, 2019