TRACKING THE CITY – WARSAW, POLAND
Tracking the City is a transdisciplinary research project initiated in 2007 by Dr Mark Dorrian and Dr Ella Chmielewska at the University of Edinburgh.
The project aims at developing and testing innovative methodologies for studying the city and engaging with critical questions for transdisciplinary research and knowledge exchange (curatorial practice and multimodal publications) in architecture, design, and visual culture. It brings together contributions from an international research network, develops an innovative urban database, and through various events, exhibitions and publications it explores the potentials of critical pedagogies and creative research in architecture.
The project's theme for 2007-2009 was ʻThe post-socialist city and its material prehistoriesʼ and its generative site was the Master of Architecture studio developed and led by Mark Dorrian at the University of Edinburgh.
The project was launched in November 2007 in Warsaw, with a public presentation at the Zacheta National Gallery of Art. This was followed with a workshop organised in collaboration with the Warsaw School of Architecture, and a public lecture at the Tchorek-Bentall Foundation by the eminent environmental historian and artist Paul Carter (Melbourne, Material Thinking). From April through July of 2008 projects by Edinburgh MArch students for A House for an Inhabitant of Warsaw were exhibited by invitation at the Zacheta Gallery, as part of the exhibition Another City, Another Life. Sponsored by the British Councilʼs Creative Cities programme, the exhibition was accompanied by a series of public seminars by University of Edinburgh faculty and students. The Another City, Another Life exhibition dealt with the transformation of Warsawʼs urban and public space in the context of similar processes taking place in other post-socialist cities. It confronted the uncompleted processes of socialist modernisation, as well as presentday globalisation and free market-driven changes, community utopias, and personal images or memories of another, better life.
The major urban proposals developed within the M.Arch studio led by Mark Dorian (with Adrian Hawkes and Victoria Clare Bernie who were studio tutors on the programme) were exhibited in the Matthew Architecture Gallery during the 2009 Edinburgh Festival and published within the cityspeculations's second volume, the bilingual English/Polish bookWARSZAWA: Projects for the post-socialist city. Projekty dla miasta postsocjalistycznego. (Edinburgh 2009)
The methodologies developed and elaborated in the studio on the post-socialist city have contributed to the success of the graduates of the M.Arch 2009 class:
• Michael Cooke and Stuart Mackellar, working with a Spanish practice MMSA architects were awarded first prize in the Europan 10 competition for a project AMBIENT KERB for the Warsaw district of Praga.
The jurors praised the ways in which the winning project addressed the specific needs of the neighbourhood. The experience from the ʻWarsaw studioʼ led by Mark Dorrian was credited for the winning architectsʼs knowledge of the city and the skill in dealing with its complexities. See Jak zmienić Pragę? Gazeta Stołeczna 29.01.10
• Piotr Leśniak was awarded the Royal Scottish Academy architecture prize for his project 'Restituted Spaces'. His project was on show in April 2010 as part of the RSA's New Contemporaries exhibition in Edinburgh.
• James A. Craig and Matt Ozga-Lawn won the Princeton Architectural Press competition for Resilience, Pamphlet 32 published in January 2012.
Research and networks generated by Tracking the City project were featured in February 2010, in a special issue of the international Journal of Architecture, titled “WARSZAWA: Tracking the City”. The issue, guest edited by Mark Dorrian and Ella Chmielewska comprised a series of papers and presentations developed as part of the project by scholars based in Australia, Canada, Lithuania, Poland, the UK and the USA. The first issue of The Journal of Architecture to be dedicated to a specific city, this collection examines the methodological implications and effects of the ʻTracking the Cityʼ idea in relation to the post-socialist condition.
A special launch events of the Journal were held in April 2010: the Warsaw JoA launch, with an audience of architects, artists, writers, and curators, was held at Katy Bentall Studio. The Edinburgh launch was held at Chambers Street in the 'g_A_p gallery' with the Council General of the Republic of Poland in attendance. The launch was accompanied by an exhibition curated by three graduates from the Masters programme based on Warsaw, now Ph.D students at Newcastle, Aikaterini Antonopoulou and Matt Ozga-Lawn, and at University of Edinburgh, Chris French.
Tracking the City project was presented by invitation as part of the conference Urban Change in Eastern and Central Europe: Social, Cultural and Architectural Transformations held at Vilnius University, Lithuania, in December 2008 and at the University of Michiganʼs Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning in February 2010.
The potentials of the database from the project were presented in the paper ʻIntegrating text with visual data and multimodal research objectsʼ at the 2008 IT Futures Conference, at the University of Edinburgh - New methods of Publication.
With Mark Dorrian having taken up the Chair in Architectural Research at the University of Newcastle, the Tracking the City project moved further into an international territory through a research group city|speculations. Methodologies and expertise developed for the project form the basis of further collaborations with researchers at the Bauhaus-Universität Weimar, UBC, The MIT, and University of Michigan.
Mark Dorrian. "Introduction" and Ella Chmielewska "Stillness" in James A. Craig and Matt Ozga-Lawn, Resilience, Pamphlet 32, Princeton Architectural Press, 2012.
Mark Dorrian and Ella Chmielewska (Eds) "Warszawa: Tracking the City." Special Issue of The Journal of Architecture, vol. 15, issue 1, 2010.
Mark Dorrian, WARSZAWA: Projects for the post-socialist city. Projekty dla miasta postocjalistycznego. city|speculations, Architecture: University of Edinburgh, 2009.
Joanna Sokolowska, Benjamin Cope (Eds) Inne miasto, inne życie/Another City, Another Life, Zachęta Narodowa Galeria Sztuki, Warszawa 2009: 92-103.
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