Inside SCI-Arc


LECTURES: 2013.09.27

John Southern: Paradise Found: Taboos and Tattoos

Faculty Talk
Friday, Sept 27, 1pm
The Steps

Intro by John Enright
Moderated by Todd Gannon

The research of John Southern and his office, Urban Operations, interrogates the sinister contradictions and utopian possibilities present in a world beset by environmental and social decline. Since 9/11, architecture has been distilled into a Supermodernist menu of recombinant formal and material outcomes, while global commerce has simultaneously produced savage anthropomorphic and sociological mutations, resulting in an ephemeral, yet domineering spatial praxis. As systems of capitalist production and consumption in emerging markets expand, and natural environments degrade to the point of collapse, dystopian scenarios once considered taboo crystallize, supplanting natural systems with an artificial ecology of deceptively optimistic spatial programs.

This lecture will briefly explore Urban Operation’s interest in the legacy of the modernist skyscraper and its cultural effects, presenting current research about a sinking island nation’s solution to survive rising sea levels by embracing the philosophies of global capitalism at their most extreme points of implementation and expression.

John Southern is the principal of Urban Operations, an architecture and research firm based in the Los Angeles, California. The office specializes in custom design and conceptual projects that seek to expand critical discourse within the design profession. Through its research division,, Urban Operations explores a wide variety of themes within contemporary culture and produces publications which reveal and critique architecture’s impact on the built environment. The firm’s work has appeared in galleries and publications around the world, including the 2012 Venice Biennale.

Before joining the faculty at SCI-Arc, John held the position of Professor of Practice at Woodbury University’s School of Architecture. His critical essays and research projects have appeared in DOMUS, Loudpaper, MONU, Junkjet, and Form Magazine - publications specializing in the field of urban culture and design.

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