The Laboratory Symposium – Material Practices in the Age of Climate Change

Friday 5th November 2021

‘Vision without execution is just hallucination.’ Thomas Edison

The ‘Post Carbon Material Practices’ Symposium organised by the AA Visiting School Stuttgart is an international transdisciplinary event that examines new material practices in architecture and design in the age of climate change. It will take place in hybrid form at the Stuttgart State Academy of Art and Design (ABK) situated adjacent to modernist icon and UNESCO World Heritage Site Weissenhof Estate and is open to a global audience.

Covid-19 and the climate emergency have enhanced our material sensibility and refocussed our vision onto our real problems. As vital to our life on this planet as water and air, material resources are finite and can’t be (mass)reproduced. The material ethos that has underwritten the fields of architecture are design is shifting. How can architecture help to build a better world?

The symposium ‘Post Carbon Material Practices’ probes and charts the contemporary frontiers of material practices in the age of climate change putting the responsibility for our future back into our own court. Can architecture/architects safe the world?

Material itself is a pressing design question and task. Developing acute sensibilities about material’s role in ecological process has become increasingly urgent. How, as architects and designers, can we become active agents in initiating the shift towards an environmentally mindful and responsible consumption and sourcing of materials in construction? How can we engage in a renewed understanding of the philosophy and politics of materials? How might a dialectic materialism revolutionize aesthetic and social values?

The symposium addresses these questions in a new hybrid format. It is staged in‐person at the Stuttgart State Academy of Art and Design and simultaneously broadcasted live on the Zoom and YouTube Channels of the participating institutions. Three roundtables feature AA and ABK staff, invited guests and leading experts like Charlotte Malterre-Barthes, Territorial Agency or Marjan van Aubel around the themes of ‘Embodied Material Actions’, ‘Expanded Material Agency’ and ‘Affective Material Matters’.

The program offers parallel tracks, allowing participants and audiences to interact with each other either by following the live broadcast or by actively participating in our roundtables and program on site, both in-person or virtually. This hybrid format aims to reflect new forms of discussion and opens the conversation to a broader public, connecting the current state of material research and its diverse and transdisciplinary agents locally and globally.

The event will be accredited and participants will be able to receive CPD Points. The content of the symposium will be documented in a book and made available on the website. Tickets will be available via Eventbrite.

‘Post Carbon Material Practices’ is organised by The Laboratory / AA Visiting School Stuttgart, a cross-disciplinary initiative of the AA at the ABK Stuttgart that brings together architects, artists, designers and researchers to speculate about our life in the future.

Prominent Features of the workshop/ skills developed

Introduction to urgent and vital material practices in the age of climate crisis
Map current positions and trends, socially, culturally, spatially and technologically
Understand the role and agency of architecture and design
Develop an awareness of the culture, politics, economy, and ecology of multiple material practices in architecture and design
Meet and discuss with recognized experts and practitioners from diverse fields (art, science, industry etc)
Identify your position and challenges