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Hip Hop Architecture: The Post Occupancy Report of Modernism | Mike Ford | TEDxMadison

Hip Hop Architecture: The Post Occupancy Report of Modernism | Mike Ford | TEDxMadison



[Applause] what happens at the intersection of hip-hop culture and architecture I've dedicated my entire academic and professional careers to exploring this intersection before we look at hip-hop being combined with architecture I think it's important that we explore how black culture has transformed other art movements throughout time I call this before-and-after hip-hop here's the Eames chair before hip-hop here's the Eames chair after hip-hop here's one of Lisa before hip-hop and here's one of Lisa after hip-hop where an artist took hip-hop artists and painted them in the same light and medium that's Mona Lisa here's MBA shorts before hip-hop which is nothing but a mistake waiting to happen and here's basketball shorts after hip-hop here's headphones before hip-hop and we made those headphones into beats here's a record player before hip-hop which we turned into an industry here's timberland boots before hip hop a boot that is worn by contractors people want construction sites who needed to protect their toes and here's boots after hip hop I don't even need to change the image timberland boots became so synonymous with hip hop it was a fashion statement for our feet and to have dirty Tim's was blasphemy the moment we got a scuff or any piece of dirt the timberlands were no longer usable and that's just on the surface about how black black culture is transformative let's take a second to think a little deeper Pablo Picasso Swiss architect Le Corbusier were heavily influenced by black culture they called themselves Negro fille acts which was their way of describing their infatuation with black culture I'm sure many of you have heard of jay-z's Black Album but how many of you have heard of Pablo Picasso's black period during this period of Negro failure Pablo Picasso was heavily influenced by African tribe war he would study and create sketches of tribal masks and in his most famous piece the young ladies of Avignon he incorporated those sketches and so two of the young ladies faces this piece would become the most famous piece that Picasso would ever paint and it will become the first piece of cubism African art changed the way that Picasso saw the world and how he saw himself on a left there's a self-portrait Picasso made after the blue period and on the right is his self-portrait after the black period where he painted himself with features that you typically would attribute to Africans they're stronger facial features in the large nose Picasso was heavily changed by African tribal art and he would deny that influence for a long time well what else do you expect from a man who's famous for saying good artists copy and great artists steal will we not know Picasso or cubism if not for his introduction to black culture architect look abou ca was literally in love with black culture he had an intimate relationship with the most famous Harlem Renaissance artist Josephine Baker during that relationship he developed an appreciation for black music specifically jazz where he said Negro music has touched America because it is the melody of the soul joint with the rhythm of the machine the music of the error of construction innovative if+ the body and heart it plus USA and it floods the world jazz it's more advanced than the architecture and if architecture was at the point reached by jazz it would be an incredible spectacle kibou za noticed that jazz artists can come together without a plan and create something that had never been heard before because they have mastered the tools of their craft which allowed them to come together in harmony in such a spontaneous way and create beautiful music he wondered if architects would ever master are tools that allow people to come together and create architecture that had never been seen before he will go on to coined the term Art Deco which is an art and architecture movement that was heavily influenced by the Harlem Renaissance what we not know Art Deco if not for caboose EA's introduction to black culture if caboose Jaeger fantasize about this merger of black music and architecture and Pablo Picasso can transcend all the artists that were around him at that time by incorporating African tribal art why can't we constituents of hip-hop culture black people bring our culture into new arenas to create something that is totally new and unseen before and that's what hip-hop architecture is hip-hop architecture is a critique of modernism it's a critique of the style of architecture that birthed the culture like a bougie a had a plan he had a plan to liberate the working-class citizens of Paris and in his book the city of tomorrow and his planning kibou za described the new modern town planning initiative that will transcend everything that was out at the time he wanted to liberate the working-class by providing them with amongst other things these five items I'm going to highlight he wanted to provide translucent prisms of glass these would be the buildings that will give people immediate access to employment and they would sit within vast lawns which would surround the residents who are under the shade of trees with clean air and no noise his scheme would go on to be deemed towers in a park it's nothing but utopia the perfect world Paris was unsure of the social implications of this architecture and programming what will the social implications be upon the inhabitants of the spaces and because of that his plan was heavily criticised preventing it from ever being anything more than an idea for Paris but there came a man who would use his plan Robert Moses Robert Moses was a builder in New York and s/he was building the Cross Bronx Expressway he will look to the caboose EA's plan to not displace residents who were in the way of his construction but I call his implementation of caboose EAS plan the worst remix or sample in history during a construction across Bronx Expressway he did not use any of the elements or amenities that caboose e8 deemed necessary for such an architecture to be successful those translucent prisms of glass and bass lawns will become concrete jungles the prisms of glass will become when not in this brick towers this typology will become the typology that defined low-income housing across the nation 1520 Sedgwick Avenue is officially recognized by New York as the birthplace of hip-hop 1520 Sedgwick Avenue was built at the suggestion of Robert Moses and it's based on lekha buzias plan that he created for the center of pairs now this is of officially recognized that the birthplace of hip-hop but if you talk to any hip hoppers you can have an interesting conversation about whether that's true or not hip hop architecture brings design accountability let kibou za was a great architect but its architecture disproportionately affected people of color hip-hop brings accountability to caboose the air I often call him the forefather of hip-hop culture now don't get it twisted this is not a compliment it's a criticism it tells us that his architecture it's beyond bricks and mortar and that its architecture is the incubator of culture and it allows us to define the processes the planning the policies that made the hood what it is and stop people from using the cultural behaviors of people of color to describe why the hood exists I call hip-hop postmodern hip-hop its modernism's post-occupancy report hip-hop was born from modernism it lived in modernism and if anybody is going to give a post occupancy report it's going to be hip-hop song after song it's filled with counterpoints and commentary about modern architecture hip-hop is the voice of the voiceless it is the voice of the un– consultant end users of public housing and modernism and if we can listen to the music we can understand just how unsuccessful this architecture was and we can understand the end justices that are faced by people of color who live in communities based on modernism remember those five points are brought up earlier such as the translucent prisms of glass and the vast lawns Snoop Dogg and his song life in the projects it ain't no trees the grass ain't green and when I say it's all bad you know what I mean Grandmaster Flash took it a step further no prisms of glass here he said broken glass everywhere people pissing on the stairs you know they just don't care can't take the smell can't take the noise got no money to move out I guess I got no choice rats in the front room roaches in the back junkies in the alley with a baseball bat I try to get away but I couldn't get far because a man would at Ultra repossess my car and what he's talking about here again is that architecture is beyond bricks and mortar architecture has an effect on the people who inhabited he will go on in that course the course of the most famous hip hop song ever created he will go on to say don't push me cause I'm close to the edge I'm trying yet not to lose my head it's like a jungle sometimes and make me wonder how I keep from going under and what he's talking about here is the psyche the psychological impact that this architecture was having and this chorus is in harmony with a critique of kibou CAS plan that he received in Paris back in the 1920s this criticism said poor creatures what will they become in the midst of all this dreadful speed this organization this terrible uniformity they were talking about the inhabitants of that architecture what will happen said here's enough to discuss one forever with standardization and to make one long for this order I deem this predicted eveness criticism a prediction of hip-hop culture almost 50 years before hip-hop culture was born in the Bronx and if you look at lyrics you can also see how psychology played a part in creating the hood shock G said I'm in a rage oh yeah why is that G because other races they say we act like rats in a cage I tried to argue but check it every night in the news we proved them stuck us right and I got the blues what was he talking about when he said they say we act like rats in the cage he was talking about sociologist JB Calhoun who studied rats and mice in concentrations of high-density with controlled resources he will put these rats and towers and he noticed that the rats changed drastically he said that they were no longer rats because of how much they changed and people started to parallel his subjects to humans and said that if we continue to develop cities in a manner in which we're doing it violence is an inevitable part of the inhabitants of these towers America ignored those warnings and still created this architecture that JB Calhoun warned us about so it's no surprise that you get songs such as this from whoops wu-tang featuring Street was Street Chronicle wise words by the abomino hi honorable rap quotable phenomenal seniority kid I speak for the minority yet oh poverty the housing authority this is what's starting to happen and hip-hop and rap lyrics they're noticing that the environment is having an effect and if we can't listen to hip-hop and change the way that we design our cities hip-hop is starting to encourage a new era of designers a new era of urban planners who can come and remedy the injustice is faced by the people of color at the hands of modernism now I said be boys and girls listen up you could be anything in a world and god we trust' an architect doctor may be an actress but nothing comes easy it takes much practice so nas is encouraging people to become architects to build our own communities and when we do that we can have design justice Tiffany brown is from Detroit she grew up in the housing projects in Detroit she would go on to get a masters degree in architecture in an MBA she would come back and demolish the very architecture the very housing projects from which she was born this is justice this is what happens when we can create opportunities for more minorities to become architects designers and planners when you combine hip-hop culture in architecture you get the cypher this is the new process that brings many people together where ideas can float the design cypher was a process I created when designing a universal hip-hop Museum in the Bronx when we brought together architects urban planners scholars students community members politicians and hip-hop pioneers to create the architecture to create ideas for the universal hip-hop museum that will be in their community here's some of the designers and architects and a hack um these are my friends these are hip-hop architects these are individuals I've grown up with individuals who have grown up on hip-hop culture we also had the legendary artist Kurtis Blow the Sugar Hill Gang if you don't know hip-hop the hippie to the hippie to the hip hip hop that's them we also have Roxanne Shantae one of the first female MCS to join us and now people from the community hip hop artists who were born of modernism born from architects hands we're now controlling the hands of the architects they were the architects they were designing their own experiences which will allow people to come and learn about hip-hop we joined with a sponsor Autodesk Tinkercad who came and provided a training for the hip hop artists and community members allowing them to not only write down words and draw sketches but create their own 3d models and print them out by the end of the third day they were holding their architecture in their hand my goal as I go around delivering this message to colleges and universities it's a combat is to combat the low number which is 3% 3% of all Architects in America are african-american it is my hope that this narrative will provide the catalyst needed to increase that number and I will create an army of hip-hop architects who will look to remedy the injustice is faced by people of color at the hands of modernism thank you [Applause]

Author Since: Mar 11, 2019

  1. Fascinating, although I feel as though there is a detrimental planning, economic and social context into which Modernist architecture and especially Modernist social housing existed.

  2. Love the lecture and it vocalizes many things that I've experienced already in my career as an architect. I've worked in the industry for years, but I'm actively involved in the creation and production of album art, music videos and original music projects. It's great to see more people talking about this because it's my world as well.

  3. Peace, Love and Respect to Mike Ford -The Hip Hop Architect for his DOPE perspective on how Hip Hop is helping to transform architecture! I'm looking forward to working with him and the UHHM, Word!!!

  4. What a wonderful talk! Thank you, Michael. I've been looking for an example of how we affect architecture and how it, in turn, it affects us. This is the best example I've heard yet. Phenomenal!

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