Architectural debates are rubbish.
We’ve all been there: a panel of similar designers with similar views taking it in turns to talk at length about their similar work – too polite, too deferential, too dull. At best they are lukewarm love-ins, critically impotent, elitist and stuffy. Turncoats is a shot in the arm. Framed by theatrically provocative opening gambits, a series of debates will rugby tackle fundamental issues facing contemporary practice with a playful and combative format designed to foment open and critical discussion, turning conventional consensus on its head.
12:00pm, Saturday 21st July 18
Finn Williams, The Future of Heritage : ARC 11
Romanticising Stoke on Trent’s Potteries is unprogressive and deceiving. These emptied, monolithic factory spaces and vast brownfield sites are the ghouls of industrial history – rather than resurrect them, its time we lay their ‘heritage’ to rest.
Stoke on Trent was built on clay and coal – its pot banks and pits booming from the 18th century, until the decline as a result of a losing battle to globalisation, mechanisation and finally, Thatcher’s government. Factories once employed adults and children to work long days for a low income. Ill health was rife, with many workers suffering from ‘potters rot’ as a result of using lead glazes, most then dying from respiratory diseases caused from the workplace.
Sites where steel, kilns and mines once stood have remained derelict, vacant and underdeveloped for too many years. Now, these emptied, monolithic factory spaces and vast brownfield sites inhabit a large percentage of Stoke on Trent but the ‘Potteries’ account for around only 10% of the city’s employment. Yet the council-led campaign for city of culture would have the country believe the potteries are an intrinsic part of our identity. This is an opportunistic myth.
Stoke-on-Trent is at the cusp of gaining a new identity – one that is full of life and possibility, but in order to do this, we need to let go of post industry paralysis. Take the plunge, stop clinging to the past and embark on a new future.
12.00 – 13.00
Stay Flexible! with Chloe Cooper
A warm up to improve your performance as an audience member in the upcoming debate. Moves will include: taking a position, being swayed, sticking to your guns and u-turns.
13.00 – 14.30
Turncoats is a provocative global debating society turning public discourse on its head, shaking and serving over ice. It is off the record, offline and riddled with devil’s advocates hiding in plain sight. Prepare for big arguments from surprising places, where the only allegiances are to the spirit of the fight.
Turncoats is a project founded by Phineas Harper and Maria Smith with the support of Robert Mull and the Architecture Foundation. For all enquiries write to firstname.lastname@example.org.