Architecture: Space, Power, and Community


Space, Power & Community

Summer Institute for k-12 Teachers

June 25 - 27, 2018

The 2018 Summer Institute for k-12 teachers will explore the interplay between built spaces, individuals, communities, and institutions. Our program will begin with recent research into how the human brain interacts with physical spaces. From there, participants will learn about a global sampling of built environments, considering spaces from perspectives such as visual arts, religious traditions, anthropology, and building technologies. 

Teachers who wish to receive professional development credit will be expected to attend an extended afternoon session, during which they will work to modify an existing classroom unit to incorporate new content. Teams of teachers are encouraged to attend and build curriculum together.

This institute is open to k-12 teachers across disciplines. There is no cost to attend. Space is limited.

photo credit: guah Architecture via flickr (license


Monday, June 25

8:30 – 9:00 AM

Check in & breakfast

9:00 - 9:20 AM


9:20 – 10:40 AM

Introduction: Thinking about the Production of Space
Joann Conrad

In our day-to-day lives, we tend to think of both Time and Space, if we think of them at all, as self-evident, static, the ‘solid-ground’ on which we scaffold the more contingent aspects of our lives. We act in space, but rarely think about how space acts on us

In this opening discussion, we will look at the production of space and the effect of that on us as subjects. Space, in this sense, is constitutive of human behavior: it is cultural, historical, and has ideological underpinnings and motivations. But how can we uncover these processes?

We can begin by reorienting our own behavior in relation to produced space, or at least questioning this – what happens when we go against the flow? When we enter an exit? Stand on the wrong side of a BART escalator? When we fail to drive inside the lines on the freeway? (I’m not suggesting doing this, but when ordered streets are introduced in places for the first time, there is a great deal of resistance to this kind of regimentation). In a way, we do this when we take “short cuts” – we subvert the “logic of the grid” by our personal logic, based on experience external to the grid – a knowledge of traffic patterns, road construction, etc. We also subvert the public production of space when we strike a tent outside a BART station, or, when we create personal, commemorative roadside shrines instead of conforming to the dictates of the managed spaces of death that are large, industrialized cemeteries.

The discussion takes a historical view of the organization of space and how this has changed over time and across cultures, intersected by technological, social, gender, economic factors, and in turn how these changes have affected interpersonal and social relations. We also move from the personal/domestic organization of space to the larger social organization.

10:50 AM – 12:10 PM

Thinking about Space and Using Space to Think: Applications from Spatial Cognition Research
Margaret Tarampi

Through our personal experiences, we know that our lives and interactions are guided by our physical surroundings. Cognitive science research can help explain how the physical environment (both built and natural) affects our perception and experience. As an architect, I bring a unique perspective to scientific research questions. As a cognitive psychologist, I consider how we think about space (i.e., thinking in space, and thinking about space) and how we use space to think (i.e., thinking with space). At the intersection of architecture and cognitive psychology, we will discuss findings from spatial cognition research that draw connections to physical environments.

12:10 – 1:10 PM


1:10 – 2:30 PM

Ball Games and Social Life in Ancestral Central America: Assembling places, people, and histories without government
Rosemary Joyce

Archaeologists today are exploring evidence of social relations in the past in which people organized themselves without permanent formal leaders. Drawing on theories of "heterarchy" or "anarchy"-- alternatives to the assumption that human societies always depend on political hierarchy-- archaeologists are able to understand societies where there seems to be less or less permanent economic inequality, and more sustainability, than the kingdoms and empires that long attracted most of the attention.
This talk draws on 30 years of research in one such area-- the Ulua valley in Caribbean coastal Honduras-- to show how we can understand the way people shaped towns to enable public gatherings, creating spaces where disputes could be resolved and alliances could be reaffirmed and created. In particular, we will look at the way that ballcourts-- specially built arenas for ballgames using indigenous rubber technology-- came to be central to communities that, in the memorable phrase of political scientist James Scott, understood "the art of not being governed" for centuries before Europeans arrived and imposed new forms of governance.

2:30 - 3:30

Credit Group work session & discussion

Tuesday, June 26

8:30 – 9:00 AM

Check in & breakfast

9:00 – 10:20 AM

Aesthetics of an Art Village in China
Annie Malcolm

The Chinese mega-city Shenzhen normally conjures images of wide streets, tall buildings, booming factory production, record-breaking construction speed, money, pollution, and materialism. But on the eastern edge of the city, 15,000 Chinese people—many of them artists—don loose linen and cotton clothes, live on narrow lanes and alleys in traditional-style houses, and go against all stereotypes about modern Chinese living. Nestled into the foothills of a stream-lined mountain where plants overflow into lantern-lit courtyards, it's a creative refuge where local strawberries sit on sun-drenched wooden tables and freshly baked cakes are sold out of wagons on the side of the road. Wutong Art Village is an artistic, atmospheric, miniature world. The village is undergoing a process of art-ification and gentrification, and is the site of spiritual revival for many residents. What does this look like? In what ways are these contexts made sensible on the ground? This presentation draws on ethnographic research to explore a unique site of "creative industry" within the better-known context of China's rapid industrialization.

10:30 – 11:00 AM

Facilitated Discussion

11:00 AM – 12:20PM

Architecture & Monarchical Power in Iran: From the Achaemenids to the Pahlavis
Talinn Grigor 

Artistic appropriation of forms and icons as a mode of identity formation has been a deep-rooted tradition in the politics of Iranian kingship. Rulers from antique, Islamic, and modern periods were keen on borrowing artistic vocabulary from the past in order to convey an expressly Iranian cultural and political distinctiveness. This espousal involved a highly self-aware process of adoption and synthesis that produced a renewed definition of not only forms and images, but also that of kingship and Persian-ness as constantly changing categories of meanings. This talk will give an overview of major royal monuments from the founding of the first Persian empire by the Achaemenids in 550 BCE to the fall of the Pahlavi dynasty in 1979. Architecture helped sustain the institution of the monarchy that in turn colored both Iranian identity formation and space making.  

12:20 - 1:15 PM


1:15 – 2:35 PM

Building Skyscrapers in Soviet Moscow: From Plan to Reality
Katherine Zubovich

Architecture is a powerful tool. The built environment is and has been used in cities around the world to project authority and to shape and constrain human interactions. This talk considers architectural projects in the USSR and the expression of Soviet ideology through built space. After the Bolshevik revolution in Russia in 1917, architecture played a particularly important role in Soviet efforts to solidify power and make revolutionary ideas concrete. But the results were not always what Soviet officials and architects intended. Focusing on a city-wide skyscraper project begun in Moscow in 1947, this talk explores the history of Stalin-era efforts to build up the Soviet capital in ways that conformed to and expressed communist ideology. We will also examine some of the ways that planning ideals fell short when implemented on the ground.

2:45 – 3:45 PM

Credit Group work session & discussion

Wednesday, June 27

8:30 – 9:00 AM

Check in & breakfast

9:00 – 10:20 AM

Public Spaces for Private Needs: Aromatic Flowers and the Democratization of Public Gardens in Victorian London
Anna Novakov 

Vauxhall Gardens, 1750-1859, situated along the Thames in Kennington, was a Utopian pleasure park that offered the illusion of luxury and privilege to a broad spectrum of London society. These eye-catching showpieces were made possible by the innovative gas lighting of walks creating a nocturnal fantasy world that was open to the public. Its phantasmagoria alluded to a more democratic, proto-cinematic experience that transported ordinary citizens to a world of aristocratic privilege. Victorian-era greenhouses, built around the same time, such as Kew Garden’s Palm House, were spaces of sensory diversions and the healing properties of fragrant flowers and exposure to sunshine.  Encased in a glass skin, elaborate buildings, such as those designed by Joseph Paxton (1803-1865), protected tender plants from the elements while also offering themselves up as therapeutic spaces for the visitors who saw in their expansive windows a kind of public sanatoria that relieved ordinary city dwellers from the stresses of urban life. The translucent effects of large sheets of glass made it possible to open up dark, musty interior rooms into more liberated and healthy architectural expanses whose aromatic properties had curative olfactory properties. The use of public spaces for private needs is noted by Walter Benjamin (1892-1940) who wrote that for ordinary citizens,

“for the first time the living space became distinguished from the place of work … From this sprang the phantasmagorias of the interior … The collector dreamed that he was in a world which was not only far off in distance but also in time. From this epoch sprang the arcades and the interiors, the exhibition halls and the dioramas … residues of a dream world.”[i]

[i] Walter Benjamin. Paris, Capital of the Nineteenth Century. (Berne, Switzerland, 1835) quoted in John Hix,. The Glasshouse. (New York: Phaidon, 1996), 74.

10:30  – 11:50 AM

Ph.D candidate, Matt Wade, will discuss urbanization in modern Southeast Asia through the lens of development in Indonesia.

11:50 AM – 12:20 PM

Facilitated Discussion

12:20 - 1:20 PM


1:20 - 2:40 PM

Urban Studies professor, Tanu Sankalia, will discuss colonial built space in Mumbai, India.

2:40 – 4:00 PM

Credit Group work session & discussion

Newsletter Sign-up

When & Where

Where: The Institute will be held at the ORIAS office, at 1995 University Ave, Suite 510, in downtown Berkeley.

When: See the agenda to the left for daily schedule information. Please arrive during the breakfast and check-in period or at breaks.

Registration: The Institute is currently full. If you would like to be added to a waiting list, please email

Transit & Parking: ORIAS is located close to several AC Transit bus lines and only three blocks from the Downtown Berkeley BART station. If at all possible, it is recommended that you take public transit. If you drive, you can learn about parking options here.