Joana Rafael (b.1979) is an architect, researcher, lecturer and ghostwriter, currently based in Porto, Portugal. Works between architecture, (issues of) ecology, material culture and technology. Teaches Contextual Studies and Contemporary Culture-related courses, and is a member of ISPUP (Institute of Public Health of the University of Porto) and CEGOT (Center for Studies in Geography and Spatial Planning). Joana is also a certified farmer.
Keeping in Reserve
Visual Cultures, Goldsmith, London
This thesis concerns architecture and engages with redefining architecture in terms of its
relation to acts and structures of reservation, both posited as causes of, and as solutions to
Earth crises – i.e crises related to human-induced threats to, or arising from, the planetary
environment. Here, what is meant by “reservation” is the production of (and the)
arrangements to secure and keep apart – i.e. in reserve/s – things perceived as threatening to
humanity or vital to its survival. In addition, the term here refers to another aspect of
reservation - the expression of doubt regarding the efficacy of such arrangements.
This thesis contends that, despite being intended to act as architectural solutions, agents
or safeguards for the future and safety of (human) life on the planet, by failing to respect the
inescapably interconnected nature of the environment and the reciprocity of its processes -
their extensive, cumulative and temporal qualities – reserve arrangements exacerbate rather
than lessen the problems they set out to address. These assimilate the very structure and
pattern of crises they attempt to resolve, and keep morphologically reproducing the ill effects
of threats - thus, not only exposing architecture and the reserve fragile limits but, ultimately,
cementing them as fictions.
This argument is made in relation to attempts to guard and defend against three
categories of threat from Earth crises: destruction and danger; depletion of natural and
artificial resources; contamination and pollution. These are read through ‘voiced reservations’
from the fields of Arts, critical theory, Earth (and social) sciences, radical ecology,
speculative philosophy, cultural studies, architectural theory and even science fiction, which
offer theoretical means to reflect on general laws of acting upon the planet and in relation to
the future. Problematising the construction of the planet through the logic of the reserve, this
thesis calls for new methodological engagements.