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Translating Ferro/transforming knowledges of architecture, design and labour for the new field of production studies [TF/TK]


Translating Ferro/Transforming Knowledges is a 3.5 year research project bringing together UK and Brazil based academics and producers of the built environment to study, raise awareness and foster just, responsible and alternatives to the worsening and increasingly dispersed conditions of contemporary building construction across the globe. Working together with affiliated researchers and partner organisations from formal and informal building sectors, and resisting the separation of design from construction, the project consolidates and makes available resources and research methodologies for the new interdisplinary, cross-cultural field of production studies. To do so it mobilises and makes available for the first time in English translation the foremost enquiry into design, labour and the construction site by the still-active architectural historian and theorist Sérgio Ferro, whose work remains little known outside the Brazilian and French contexts where it was developed, despite its pertinence to the urgent crisis in building today. Drawing on disciplines from political economy, sociology, philosophy to history of art, architecture and construction, Ferro's framework both provides a common critical, theoretical and methodological ground for Production Studies, and directs it towards social action, as already demonstrated by his important influence on architects working in Brazil to technically advise grassroots movements and communities in self-managed building production. A number of these groups (Usina, Arquitetura na Periferia, Peabiru) are directly involved in the project, strengthening sustainability through international exchange and sharing their expertise of alternative construction processes with building cultures such as the UK where mainstream construction dominates. As a means to effect change, the project will transform knowledge of design and building production: through an annual programme of production studies symposia and exchanges in the UK (Newcastle, London) and São Paulo State (São Paulo; São Carlos) through the co-production of 24 new case studies - that are aimed as exemplars to both address the gap in academic knowledge of production (histories of informal and formal production, related disciplinary approaches such as anthropology, political science) and to provide resources for further action and change (documenting the work of social movements and selfbuilders, recording and trialling alternative forms of design pedagogy that engage with production); and in conjunction with project partners (such as, in São Paulo, IAB-SP (Institute of Brazilian Architects); UMM (Union of Housing Movements); Centro Gaspar Garcia, and in the UK, the RIBA (The Royal Institute of British Architects), The Building Centre, William Morris Gallery through local workshops, live build projects, professional development training, public talks, theatre, film screenings with architectural practitioners, building industry professionals and institutions, activists, design students and pedagogues. (AU)

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