Can there be an anti-fascist architecture? What does a democratic urban plan really look like? What would architecture become if it focused—first—on precarious lives? Could the right to free movement be the basis of a viable design theory? In this talk, Jesse Lockard explores Yona Friedman’s attempts to answer these questions in the aftermath of World War II and investigates how Friedman modeled an architectural practice in which radically alternative political imaginaries resist foreclosure by notions of feasibility or propriety. Friedman’s position at the edge of the canon of architectural history has made him a familiar—if little researched—exemplar of postwar European experimentalism. Lockard offers a new account of Friedman’s early work that defamiliarizes this pioneering theorist of participatory design “whose flexible, humanizing designs qualify him as one of the most influential minds of twentieth century architecture,” to quote Artforum’s obituary (2020). Drawing on oral history interviews and extensive archival research, Lockard sets a technologically fine-grained, transnational and multi-medial backdrop for Friedman’s practice against which his plans for space-frame cities raised on piers and theories of Mobile Architecture become stranger, queerer and more politically and tectonically complex.
Jesse Lockard is a postdoctoral fellow at The Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz- Max Planck Institute and in 2023 is joining The University of Oxford as The James Legge Memorial Junior Research Fellow in Comparative Aesthetics and Art History at Corpus Christi College. Lockard received her doctorate in art history from The University of Chicago in 2021 and her work has been recognized with the Graham Foundation’s Carter Manny Award, among other honors. Lockard’s research focuses broadly on architectural theory in modernity and is strongly anchored in historiography and political philosophy, with special emphasis on the history of internationalism and on visual modes of knowledge transmission.