Language and architecture have a complicated relationship. Criticism, history, news and opinion in print, at events and online: all of these form our thoughts about buildings. This is not just a question of ideas, however, since discourse affects the production of architecture itself.
In this collective gathering, we will discuss the ideological and material factors shaping architectural discourse: the way we discuss buildings, the tools we use to do so, and the conditions under which such writing is produced. One of these factors, race, is the primary focus of the New Architecture Writers programme. Our intention here is to encompass a broader intersection of the different power dynamics at work in discourse about buildings, among them ability, class, gender, geography, and sexuality.
Who is heard and how do we listen? Who gets to write about architecture, and who reads this writing? Who has access to the technical, institutional and conceptual tools that are necessary to produce and consume it? Who pays for the labour of writing? And what can we do to change these structures?
18.00 – Welcome
18.30 – Nabil Al-Kinani, author of ‘Privatise the Mandem‘, interviewed by Alistair Napier & Abiba Coulibaly
18.55 – Spoken word performance by Belinda Zhawi
19.05 – Break
19.15 – Jos Boys, co-director of The DisOrdinary Architecture Project, interviewed by Sharon Lam & Derin Fadina
19.40 – Break
20.00 – Panel of Action with Christopher Laing, Thandi Loewenson, Papa Omotayo & Jordan Whitewood-Neal, with Rhiarna Dhaliwal & Calvin Po
21:00 – Close
This evening is hosted by Antoinette Yetunde Oni, Mahika Gautam and Shamiso Oneka
Language Barriers is supported by a grant from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts. Founded in 1956, the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts fosters the development and exchange of diverse and challenging ideas about architecture and its role in the arts, culture, and society.
Language Barriers will be hosted at the Zaha Hadid Foundation (ZHF), a charitable organisation launched in 2022, to preserve and make publicly available the full range of Zaha Hadid’s extraordinary output, and more broadly to advance research, learning, and the enjoyment of related areas of modern architecture, art and design.
Language Barriers is the result of a series of working group conversations, chaired by Chloe Spiby Loh with participants Thomas Aquilina, Rosine Gibbs-Stevenson, Christopher Laing, Jessica Ryan-Ndegwa and Jordan Whitewood-Neal.
Language Barriers was not only conceived as an opportunity to discuss the barriers to architectural discourse, but also as a model of how to produce and execute an accessible event. Over the past few months, a working group containing both disabled and non-disabled participants has worked together to establish clear accessibility requirements that enables all to engage with the event both in-person and online. The following are the key accessibility considerations put in place:
An event can only be seen as truly accessible if the transport options to and from the venue are also taken into consideration. The Zaha Hadid Foundation is located within half a mile of Farringdon station which has step-free access. Bowling Green Lane is also serviced by the number 17, 63, 431 and N63 buses.
Recent renovations to the venue have introduced ramps to key areas and the addition of a ground floor disabled bathroom. An additional bathroom is also available in the nearby community centre which has granted us access on the day. There will also be a quiet breakout space provided for anyone who needs to step away from the crowd and discussion.
Deaf/Hard of Hearing and Blind/partially sighted
The event will be supported by 2 BSL interpreters in-person. In addition, the live-streaming of the event will be posted online afterwards and include live-captions and BSL interpretation. The event space will be organised so to ensure clear lines of sight to the interpreters. In order to make any visual material in presentations accessible, all guest speakers have been asked to provide audio descriptions, however it has not been possible for this event to produce braille versions of any handouts or signage. But any handouts will also be available in digital format to enable screen reading.
In order for this event to be safe for all, and especially for anyone who is clinically extremely vulnerable to Covid-19, we are asking that any attendees and speakers take a Lateral Flow Test before coming on the day and please do not attend if this test is positive.
Drop us a line if you are unable to pay for entry and we will arrange for a free ticket to be sent to you.
Although much effort has been put into these considerations, we acknowledge that some accessibility requirements may not be covered here. If you wish to bring anything additional to our attention, you can contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org