Doing Guerrilla Architecture (A Shift in Practice)
This thesis seeks to position ‘guerrilla architecture’ as an alternative approach to conventional architectural practice, in an attempt to shift architecture to be more inclusive and collaborative, less exclusive and prescribed. It looks to build upon the understanding of key questions: ‘how to be a guerrilla architect? ’and ‘how to do guerrilla architecture?’. More specifically, this research project seeks to understand how guerrilla tactics such as temporary architecture, can be used to transform existing urban spaces into true public spaces which invite collaboration and sharing, using the idea of ‘commoning.’ Employing an auto-ethnographic form of qualitative methodology, this research aims to develop a more democratic architectural process. Using the city of Wellington as the testing ground, selected urban spaces are activated by employing guerilla tactics through a series of experiments. Wellington was selected as it lacks well-utilised shared spaces where people can socialise, connect and engage through shaping their environment.
The guerrilla strategies use urban commoning, an ever-developing collaborative process of social practices, to temporarily transform underutilised public spaces in Wellington.
These social practices, such as dancing, art and commensality (the act of eating together), were used as activators to empower people to revitalise public space in a collaborative and inclusive way. The guerrilla method included D-I-Y performance interventions to construct temporary situations. Each experiment was recorded through observations, videos, photographs, drawing, reflexive learning and doing, and conversations with participants and collaborators.
This project draws upon contemporary discourse questioning the role of the architect, and architecture’s engagement and relationship with activism and social justice. The research aims to add to the growing body of knowledge which shifts the practice of the architect and architecture from the traditional and conventional ‘starchitects’ and ‘starchitecture’, which can be seen at one extreme end of the spectrum, to a more collective, democratic and feminist approach. Faced with ever increasing inequality, privatization of urban space, and environmental degradation, reinventing the role of the architect is critical to be able to respond to these important challenges.