RESOLVE and PoOR Collective with Nana Biamah-Ofosu: The Cultural Meaning of the City

Studio Voltaire x The Architecture Foundation

Studio Voltaire and The Architecture Foundation present a series of talks which take the work of artist William Scott as a starting point to discuss wider concerns in architecture; including the roles of biography and cultural memory in citymaking, and the relationships between power, policy and place making.

The talks take place as part of the public programmes for Studio Voltaire’s survey exhibition of artist William Scott, and specifically address the artist’s extensive, ongoing urban planning project, Praise Frisco. In this work, Scott envisions that his hometown San Francisco will be ‘cancelled’ and replaced by a revived, utopian city modelled after his meticulous and detailed plans, imagining a radiant, artistically franchised city that combines references to resorts such as Disneyland with Baptist–sermon ideals. Scott often refers to himself as an architect or scientist rather than an artist, and much of his practice centres on the belief that better lives can, in part, be achieved by reimagining the built environment.

Part 1: The Cultural Meaning of the City

Chaired by architect Nana Biamah-Ofosu, The Cultural Meaning of the City brings together three London–based practitioners, Akil and Seth Scafe–Smith, co–founders of RESOLVE Collective, and Shawn Adams, a writer, lecturer and architectural designer who co–founded PoOr (POWER OUT OF RESTRICTION) Collective. Through a close reading of Scott’s architectural works, the discussion touches on urbanism, community engagement, and the stories and memories which are embedded in our cities.

About the contributors

Nana Biamah-Ofosu
Biamah-Ofosu is an architect and director of Studio NYALI, an architecture, research and design practice based in London. She combines practice with teaching at the Architecture Association in London and Kingston School of Art and has taught and lectured widely in the U.K and abroad, including as a guest critic at Harvard Graduate School of Design. Biamah-Ofosu was also part of the second cohort of New Architecture Writers and has since written articles for Architecture Today, the Architects’ Journal, Frame Magazine, ICON and Kinfolk, amongst others.

Shawn Adams
Shawn Adams is a writer, lecturer and architectural designer. Previously, a New Architecture Writer, He has written for Wallpaper*, FRAME, The Architects’ Journal, ICON, and VICE.

Adams is an advocate for diversity and inclusion within the architecture industry and was named as one of the RIBAJ Rising Stars. He is also the co-founder of the PoOr collective or POWER OUT OF RESTRICTION collective, a social enterprise that focuses on the development of communities through the elevation of young people.

Currently, teaching at Central St Martins, University of the Arts London, Adams believes that architecture can be used as a tool to develop stronger communities. An alumnus of Blueprint For All previously known as the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust, Adams is also a Trustee of the Museum of Architecture and sits on the Advisory Board of Open City’s Accelerate Programme.

Akil and Seth Scafe–Smith (RESOLVE Collective)
Akil and Seth Scafe–Smith are co–founders of RESOLVE, an interdisciplinary design collective that combines architecture, engineering, technology and art to address social challenges. They have delivered numerous projects, workshops, publications, and talks in the UK and across Europe, all of which look toward realising just and equitable visions of change in our built environment.

Much of their work aims to provide platforms for the production of new knowledge and ideas, whilst collaborating and organising to help build resilience in communities. An integral part of this way of working means designing with and for young people and under-represented groups in society.

For over 20 years, the Architecture Foundation has brought together professionals from across the built environment to discuss and act on issues related to design and the built environment. With a renewed focus on the city and the critical intersection of architecture and politics, the Architecture Foundation works to effect meaningful change on policy and practice.

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