Research

  • Narrative Architecture: A Kynical Manifesto
  • GRANTEE
    WAI Think Tank:
    Nathalie Frankowski &
    Cruz Garcia
    GRANT YEAR
    2017

WAI Think Tank, Cities of the Avant Garde, fragment of the urban cosmos where ideology and provocation coexist, 2013. Courtesy of the artists.

There is a form of architecture that aims at not getting built: an architecture based on pure statements in which brick, mortar, and poured concrete are substituted by cut and pasted paper and narrative prose. Wrongly labeled as a utopian project, the potential of Narrative Architecture has long been overlooked. Using humor and irony to destabilize the certainties of hegemonic architectural discourses, Narrative Architecture employs its methods and tools of representation to make a kynical critique of architectural ideology. By assembling a genealogy of key twentieth-century projects, Nathalie Frankowski and Cruz Garcia/WAI Architecture Think Tank reveal the subversive role and constructive potential of Narrative Architecture. The result is a retroactive manifesto that sheds light on a critical, although misunderstood, period of architectural history, and extends an invitation to embrace Narrative Architecture as a way to think and practice architecture as a critical project.

Nathalie Frankowski is an architect, artist, author, and codirector of WAI Architecture Think Tank, a Workshop for Architectural Intelligentsia founded in Brussels in 2008, and currently based in Beijing. She is a founding curator of Intelligentsia Gallery, an alternative space for positions and discourses in the realm of contemporary art, and a visiting teaching fellow at the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture. A graduate from the Department of Architecture, Art, and Philosophy at the École Nationale Supérieure d'Architecture de Paris La Villette, she is coeditor of the zine What About It?, and coauthor of Pure Hardcore Icons: A Manifesto on Pure Form in Architecture (Artifice Books, 2013). Her works have been published around the world and featured at the inaugural Chicago Architecture Biennial and the Shenzhen-Hong Kong Urbanism and Architecture Bi-City Biennale, as well as in group exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, the Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein, the KW Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin, and more.

Cruz Garcia is an architect, artist, author, and codirector of WAI Architecture Think Tank, a Workshop for Architectural Intelligentsia founded in Brussels in 2008, and currently based in Beijing. He is a founding curator of Intelligentsia Gallery, an alternative space for positions and discourses in the realm of contemporary art, and a visiting teaching fellow at the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture. A graduate of the Universidad de Puerto Rico, he is coeditor of the zine What About It?, and coauthor of Pure Hardcore Icons: A Manifesto on Pure Form in Architecture (Artifice Books on Architecture, 2013). His works have been published around the world and featured at the inaugural Chicago Architecture Biennial and the Shenzhen-Hong Kong Urbanism and Architecture Bi-City Biennale, as well as in group exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, the Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein, the KW Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin, and more.