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Building Black Utopias: Modeling the Architectural Principles of African American Literature, 1960-1975

BY CHARLES L. DAVIS, II, PH.D.
@ VOL 17 ON SEP 15, 2016

"We started with several books that looked at the brownstone as a site of intervention."

In Building Black Utopias: Modeling the Architectural Principles of African American Literature, 1960-1975 from PechaKucha Buffalo vol. 17, Charles L. Davis, II, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Architecture at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, shows works from his recent exhibition project, Building Black Utopias, and discusses the literature that served as inspiration. 

The Building Black Utopias project combines the tools of the architect, the historian and the literary critic to recover the historical contributions of African American writers to architectural utopian thought. It specifically examines the role of literary depictions of place in June Jordan, Amiri Baraka, Paule Marshall and Angela Davis’ writings. Davis argues that each authors’ rhetorical manipulations of the built environment operates on the same level as architectural utopian thought insofar as both mediums created rich, alternative depictions of modernist space to liberate the architect’s imagination. The final exhibit translates the spatial ideas of literature into drawings, models and other ephemera.