Tatjana Schneider

Interview by DR on 23.02.18
Transcribed by ST

DR: So a little bit of background, we are working on a project that explores collective organisation within architecture and the built environment and since your work has been oriented around collective practice for a number of years, I suspect since your involvement with G.L.A.S or maybe even before then we would like to ask you some questions so that we might draw from similar endeavours in our own work…

TS: Ok

DR: So would it be possible for you to set out the background to your work and what piqued your interest in collective practice?

TS: Ok – so this is G.L.A.S very much no?

DR: Well, that’s our starting point but if you feel there there was a moment before then that prompted you to act then that would be great.

TS: Ok, well it’s a very common story about, um, having a certain architectural education and being quite unhappy with the ways that went…

DR: Yep

TS: So I started at a technical school in Germany, it was dominated by the Neufert from the beginning and this became then this blueprint for not ever going out into the world, you were sitting at home behind this book and you could design anything, everything from just looking at the pages that are there, so at some point I, I saw um, that, that this wasn’t really what I wanted to do and I started looking for options to go beyond this very number based approach to architecture, and I worked in the, in an architectural practice for a bit and that was Steigler Architekten in Munich which began for me to open up at least this feeling of buildings that are um, um, that are, um, living through and created through their users as well, so it showed me a perspective of architecture that was not in my books, and I became more and more interested in the understanding, in the background of these types of spaces, so I met someone who had been to Glasgow and the… university which I then also visited and Glasgow at that time was led by Per Kartrich a Norwegian professor who had worked with Cedric Price but also Archigram in the 70’s so someone who had gone from Norway to England, a bit of a groupie I guess but still having very strong connections to these people, who um,  led the school in a very open sort of experimental fashion, and um, at the same time also quite politicised, so the teacher had, you’ve met or you might have talked to Jonathan, already, Jonathan Charley..

DR: I think we have him lined up

TS: You have him lined up, so Jonathan is this, I don’t know I’ve not spoken to him in a while but when I came he was this unreconstructed Marxist, he was uh, he was the person who introduced me to discussions on power, on security and safety and these wider discourses in the production of space and once you’ve experienced that you cannot really go back and at the same time you obviously, you also understand that space is not produced by individuals that it’s always a collective endeavour and out of that momentum at Strathclyde emerged G.L.A.S. G.L.A.S came about through I think it was 5 or 6 successive years that Jonathan had tutored students, um, who had studied under Jonathan and we decided to make this collective to address many many different issues, on the one hand obviously being organised as a worker’s cooperative made for us a very explicit point, of um, of having not an individual lead a certain practice, we were against this architect as hero author thing, we wanted to work against the abstraction of space, we wanted to work outside of the realms of the university an don topics which concerned everyone in the city, so at the time there was this housing stock transfer going on and there were amenities, public amenities under threat and the cooperative gave us, this collective organisation gave us, in the city of Glasgow also a different kind of credibility, so in a city which was built on labour struggles, through um, through the um, the steel works but also the ship building, people understood the power of collective endeavours, and um, and, when, in the beginning it was a little bit born out of, out of, um, yeah we could say we found the group because there was also a call from the arts council that only gave money to groups that were actually incorporated, so this was the actual initial trigger and it quickly, it very quickly became apparent that organising collectively was a means also to, also to read um, beyond, very quickly beyond the confines that we had initially experienced.

DR: And the um, the other members of G.L.A.S, they were also graduates of Jonathan?

TS: Yeah also graduates of of Jonathan, all of them.

DR: And so were you exclusively architects or?

TS: Well I guess we could say we were exclusive, so we had all studied architecture, let’s put it that way…

DR: And, did, was there a sort of sense that everyone was motivated by the same concerns and with the same goals in mind?

TS: Um, yes, yes and no, I think, so, um the formation of G.L.A.S, um, happened around the writing of the manifesto, the manifesto that was then published in our first G.L.A.S paper and we all signed up to that manifesto, so in a way, yes we were all committed to maybe, certain ideas and certain principles but how those principles then materialised were then very different, whether people had a stronger focus on education or on certain um, connections or on certain ways of working that was then quite, quite individual, yeah, but we had similar concerns, I mean, Jonathan, I don’t know have you ever spoken to him?

DR: Um, I’ve watched some talks yeah, by him so I can imagine…

TS: Ok, yes, so…

DR: He curates…

TS: So, a very strong, strong personality…

DR: He curates a certain, a certain student around him…

TS: Yes, so I guess we were all interested in a particular approach to architecture anyway before, um before also joining his unit and through working together with him over the years we just, we came together very closely…

DR: And, the manifesto, how did you actually sort of draft that? Was it collectively written? Um, or, or, did he draft it and you signed it?

TS: No, no…

DR: And was there any sort of, um was the discussion of particular issues that it responded to open over the course of how it operated?

TS: Yes, ok, I guess a draft emerged out of discussions between um, I guess, it, um, see, um, it’s 20 years ago, so it’s a bit fuzzy, so what I remember very vividly is sitting in pubs and discussing draft versions of this manifesto, so I think it was Alan Atlee and Jonathan and um, to a certain extent Flo and me, who, initially drafted something that then was over a couple of weeks, a number of weeks, refined, things were taken out, put back in again, but it wasn’t a true collective effort in writing I believe but it was at least versions were being discussed on a continuous basis.

DR: yep and did you find, you mentioned the importance of pub based discussions, did you find that there were ways of working that were more successful in realising the sort of collective goals? Did you come together at particular moments? Organise workshops? Or other means to…

TS: Um, I guess, it was, the pub thing was very crucial, this is how we operated throughout our studies, to go to the pub after a day of work, and I think that continued to be really important and much more um, successful than other called meetings so AGMs or other such meetings, um, we, we, um, points when we got together quite intensely was when we produced G.L.A.S paper, so this was done, um, this produced quite a lot of intensity of discussion, so, um, this was, um, we did this in Flo’s and my flat, and people, and this was our office in a way and people came and dropped by and this became the way where we formulated and worked on these things more fluidly but also quite collectively…

DR: And how many issues did you do?

TS: We did; how many issues did we do? Ten I think in total. So over the course of I guess, yeah, 5 years we did 9 issues, we initially planned to do this, um, quarterly, which quickly proved to be unfeasible, and, and then we produced in the end a G.L.A.S manual which was more a box of actions which compile, I think, the things that we did. I can send you copies of this…

DR: That would be absolutely wonderful yes, thank you so much. And were there other sort of outcomes, notable outcomes from this way of working?

TS: Notable outcomes? Notable outcomes in the sense of what exactly? We did a lot of, um, a lot of, I guess we, um, one campaign we very early got involved in was the campaign to Save Govanhill Pool, save our pool, that started in 1999 or 2000 at that point, the council closed it, we, um, we went along to some meetings and we quickly became quite involved in discussions around this, and fights also to, to keep that pool open, so some of the discussions in G.L.A.Spaper are dedicated to that, and over time a smaller group within G.L.A.S emerged that worked more collaboratively with, um, the inner circle of the save our pool campaign and developed different studies on how that pool could be kept in community ownership, and this is as far as I know, this was the basis for what is actually being, for what was realised…

DR: Fantastic…

TS: For what is in action now, so Allan Perch, who um also led the practice or is still leading NORD Architects, he took this on also into the practice, so we did a couple of feasibility studies also, for, um smaller community organisations in the city, um, one of them now, oh gosh, in the north of Glasgow, and um, so we did again feasibility studies on this. We did quite a number of exhibitions and competitions, competition entries, um, which um, are still quite interesting to look at so we did one for the Circle 33 competition, the Peter Barber one, so the white buildings, where we outlined our ideas for a cooperative collective structure and organisation of housing, so I think it’s um, quite interesting…

DR: Oh fantastic, yes, that was the one that was um, Hilary French, I’ll dig out my copy and find your submission…

TS: Yeah, um, so I, we did a lot of workshops, for a while we collaborated quite intensely with AnArchitektur in Berlin, the people who produced this journal AnArchitektur and they organised a series of camps for oppositional architecture and out of that came another manifesto that was written collectively but left also as individual voices then, and again I can send you a copy of that, I think that it is somewhere on the internet that it is there.

DR: So that’s really interesting, so, so how does that actually work in operation then if it is a collective series of individual demands, did you sort of agree to the general premise behind all of it but not necessarily to each pledge?

TS: Well, in that instance it was Anarchitektur starting the manifesto and they invited others to comment on those points, so some, some points are actually completely contradictory, in this manifesto, not massively but its really quite interesting and they left open as voices, I guess in the end they didn’t manage to bring it all together and then decided to just leave it as it is, but it follows a certain principle I guess and there’s then not minor, sometimes quite major alterations or suggestions on how it could be done differently but in principle there’s a core understanding of what an oppositional practice should be.

DR: Yeah, and was there a trace of the revisions of the manifesto?

TS: Yeah you can see that…

DR: That’s really nice…

TS: Yeah…

DR: And can I ask a little bit more about the exhibitions that you put on- were they curated around certain themes and was that specific to issues in Glasgow or were they more…

TS: Yeah, some were specific to themes in Glasgow but because of our interest I think in worker’s movements generally, and more, well historically but also present day things we, we looked quite broadly and we struck alliances I think, very very quickly to other groups and organisations elsewhere, so Anarchitektur was one of those examples and there weren’t that many around at the time to be very honest it took a very, a quite a definitive stance I guess, on what we saw architecture practice should do, so there was a lot of this meanwhile use discussion which we absolutely hated, because it was much too opportunistic and affirmative I guess of hegemonic practice. I don’t need to go into this. So, these alliances were really important for us and we then worked a lot in Berlin, also, so um, one of these papers was produced in Berlin, was produced together with the architecture gallery Aedas at the time, so we did a public newspaper office for four weeks I think in one of their pavilions where we produced one of the issues in situ in the exhibition space, so the exhibitions were always focussed on certain aspects, um, that were often also,  so the G.L.A.S paper was organised thematically so we did an issue on production, and issue on education, an issue on spaces of labour, these kind of things so in the end I think these exhibitions were then also focussed around these notions, so one around the spaces of labour was also part of the Shrinking Cities project led by Phillip Ostler I don’t know whether you know that one, so the exhibition that we did for this was then focussed around our exploration of spaces of labour, in, in the UK but also in Germany so again was wider, so I think it was always thematically more than just issue based.

DR: Brilliant, and was the intention behind the exhibitions always to connect similar endeavours or excavate certain histories that were otherwise not’ as present as they should be in architectural discourse?

TS: Um, um, the latter I guess, but um, Flo did his PhD around architectural exhibitions and also developed this concept around experimental and exploratory exhibitions so we never really saw the exhibition as a means to an end, but as something where we would test certain propositions and invite also people to feed back in so that the exhibitions would very often grow or change but um were always a stepping stone to something else, so they were never really just a show or something like that, but work in progress, that…

DR: That accumulated into the next show…

TS: Or into the next piece of work, or into the next interest that we developed…

DR: Fantastic, so where were they held? Within the university or?

TS: Well quite a lot of these exhibitions were held in The Lighthouse, um, the exhibitions that were linked to the um, to um, the shrinking cities thing, that was in a space in Berlin, um KunstWerke I think, so more exhibition-y kind of spaces, not necessarily universities. We didn’t’ do many, it was maybe 5 or 6, but it was always a crucial moment for us to rethink what we have been doing and…

DR: And did you ever find, so you mentioned that because of Glasgow’s history around collective means of working that they were perhaps more accommodating to this method of practice. Did you ever find that taking a strong political stance alienated you towards certain, achieving, certain goals?

TS: No, no, I think it was actually a means of connecting with a lot of people who we did want to connect to. So we were featured in all of the radical left things, um, newspapers,

DR: Fantastic

TS: So we connected to these labour movements and they also saw that we wanted to do something in that spirit, um, so, um, no, I think it was something, people were really comfortable with. There is very very strong critique of capitalism, of, of, of, politicians in the city, not listening to, um, the people on the ground, that was very much rooted in that discourse so it helped us more than anything else.

DR: And can I just ask before I move on a little bit beyond G.L.A.S, whether there were other historic or contemporaneous examples you mentioned, that group in Berlin, that you looked to for inspiration in the sorts of structure and mode of operation?

TS: Yeah, well, I guess we looked at the history of communes and other self organised practices. We didn’t do an awful lot of it. And, um, in a sense, this then became also for me the starting point of Spatial Agency, that we, um, we, with G.L.A.S, um, we did look at cooperatives, cooperative structures, so on and so forth, but I guess at that time we could have done more but at that time it was so much more difficult, it was really before the internet, so it would have needed, um, probably a very thorough historical research on these kinds of things which we did not do, so obviously through reading, Lefebvre or others we were aware of certain movements, but maybe only the really strong ones, the ones that were very present also in, in, the big books.

DR: Well so that’s a really so, I suppose, helpful moment to move on to other work like spatial agency, how did that sort of then propel you to conduct the research into alternative practices?

TS: Ok, so, obviously, you know, I don’t like to talk about alternative practices, for me they are not…

DR: Sorry of course! Other ways of doing…

TS: Other ways… you don’t have to say other ways of doing, but alternative is, this other thing…

DR: Constrained, of course, no no it’s a really good point…

TS: That I don’t really want to…yeah, um, and, so I, I think for me, um, I think for each and every one of us in G.L.A.S there came a point where we realised we wanted to pursue these interests in different ways, so some people went more into practice again, and Drew Barber went on to co-found Collective Architecture in Glasgow which is also organised around cooperative principles but is doing, is doing, quite, architectural work, buildings and such more than anything else, and there were others who wanted to pursue this on an academic level, and Alan was one of these people and maybe Flo, Florian and I, and for me the point came when I said, ok, this is one thing, there isn’t, um, it’s really difficult to find these other groups, lets begin to do a much more systematic history of practices that are pursuing or were pursuing similar goals to put this into a much wider theoretical and um, historical context. And this is how for me architecture and spatial agency started. Jeremy of course came at this from his interest in participation, um, he had coedited this book architecture and participation, I think, which came out just before I started to work in Sheffield, so we brought these interests together around this need for a different kind of practice, but people were being really fluffy about what that would actually mean and avoiding politics and this I think was the beginning of spatial agency as an idea that was then funded and then allowed us to go, I guess its still a very broad brush, it’s more of a sort of critical historical analysis, and very very wide, but, um it allowed us to capture this, not as individual instances, but as something that has an important history and it’s own trajectory.

DR: Mmm, and when you, so obviously one of the real strengths of spatial agency is how the connections between certain ways of working are made visible through the website and through how you discuss it. Did you get a sense from talking t some of the people involved in those groups that they were aware of these other…

TS: Ok, so, yeah, we didn’t um, see we didn’t do a lot of interviews. So we did start by talking to a set of people that we thought could help us to uncover more projects and practices. So people we spoke to were, um Liza Fior, at that time, Markus Miessen. We spoke to FLUID. And, um, and a series of other people. But, um, in this context, so, um, we used these people to simple get further into, into these networks. We um, at some point then also appointed people to look at language specific discourses that we couldn’t uncover, so there was a Spanish correspondent and someone working in Africa and someone covering other aspects, so we didn’t really engage in discussions about what it meant to work collaboratively, we wanted to, we actually made a very conscious decision not to speak to anyone because we wanted to, we really wanted to give this meta-narrative, and, as one of the key points of that meta-narrative it emerged that people were working collectively more than people were working individually, that they were putting their ego to the back and they were becoming part of wider collaborations as well. Even if they worked individually they saw the field in which they operated in as a collective endeavour.

DR: Mmm great…

TS: Does that make sense yeah?

DR: Absolutely. So did you have a clear sense of the audience for spatial agency then, as you were conducting it, because modes of dissemination seem really important for that work, and so how might those audiences be slightly different to those who attended your exhibitions is G.L.A.S or…

TS: Ah ok, so um, it was, from the very beginning it was very strongly, I came out of this, many of us came out of architecture school not having heard anything about any such practices whatsoever. So from very early I think on it was clear for Jeremy and me also to say ok that we want to do something that also changes the way, how students of architecture produce architecture. So students were the key audience from very early on, um, so that you have this space, you have an alternative history to the Bannister Fletcher to…., to these other key moments, so ok, architecture is not just buildings it’s also these other things and we also need to learn about this in architecture school so it was very strongly targeted towards students.

DR: Mmm and did you, did you um, have any sort of outreach or exhibition type events related to the spatial agency work or was the attention towards the book and the website?

TS: No we did, we did quite a lot of things, so we organised um, at the beginning we organised a symposium that was I think in 2007, and it was called Alternate Currents, that was part of the theory forum module at the school of architecture at Sheffield, so we used, we invited, there was an open call and some invitations and we had about I don’t know 15 people or so who came from across the world to talk to students and interested others about these kind of practices. So it started off I guess with this more, um, more educational event, but something that was then also, um, leading towards other things. Um, we did, um, design studios, that then also led to other pieces of work either being commissioned or where students were then invited to contribute to, so we did something for the London Architecture Festival, with our students, um, aha, in 2006 or 7 or something like that.. which again broadened the audience. We did work together with CABE, ah, students, um, set up their own practices out of this, and we did a series of knowledge exchange projects with councils in the south of England. So that was a particular interest, so students who had been in the studio who then worked with me, then, that was I think after Jeremy left, on, um, on a series of projects that took theses ideas into, um, into other community based work, um, so there were plenty of things that we did on the side, we organised a conference at the RIBA, a research symposium in 2008, which was obviously looking at the more practitioner audience. I don’t know how many public presentations we did within architecture schools but also within museums and so on and so forth so quite a lot of stuff that happened on the side but was also consciously done so…

DR: Yeah, and, just to sort of flip back for a moment to G.L.A.S, were the workshops and exhibitions that you had there, were they oriented towards the public much more or also towards practitioners and students?

TS: Um, a mixture, some were more student based, others were, um, yeah more public based, not necessarily practitioners, students or the public, but really depending also on the context within which it happened. I don’t think we made a conscious decision, whether we wanted to do this or that, we had something that interested us, that came out of the discussions and the people who came out of those discussion were very often part of the workshops and it then attracted also others and they were sometimes students, sometimes public, sometimes, yeah other people.

DR: And you mentioned the RIBA, were you, were you members of the RIBA or any other…

TS: No. Well Jeremy must have been I guess, I guess at the time he was, um, a member of the research committee, maybe? Um, I might be getting this wrong, so don’t quote me on that, but there was a strong, somewhat strong link also there. And, um, I guess we wrote a proposal to do this research symposium and we got to do it…

DR: And were you a member of any other collective organisations?

TS: No…

DR: Unions…

TS: No…

DR: Or political parties…

TS: No…

DR: Or…

TS: Um, me personally, no…

DR: Or others…

TS: Other members, um, probably…

DR: And was that a strategic decision or was that born of…

TS: To not be part of a political party?

DR: Or not to be part of a union or the RIBA? Did you feel that they just didn’t speak for this sort of work?

TS: Um, I guess the RIBA was never really a discussion- it never really occurred to me that I should be a member, I think I was a student member so I could access the library, because at the time the library was not open to everyone, you needed to be a member so I think I had a student membership to be able to access the library but only because I wanted to access the library. And, um, yeah, I don’t know, I guess we were part of this informal network of groups who then yeah, um, were organised around similar principles, but it didn’t feel right I think to be part of a particular movement. I guess we were part of the, cooperative of course, Cooperatives UK, because of G.L.A.S, but other than that it didn’t really occur…

DR: Yeah, how do you feel that these two, two endeavours or anything in particular that was swept up around the same time have fed your work since, or your way of working since?

TS: Ok, um…

DR: Sorry that’s quite a big question…

TS: Yes, it’s quite a big question, so I guess, um, G.L.A.S very much brought out these notions of um, ethics of engagement, whom do you work with, who has the power to do something, who has the agency to, or the capacity to engage, so it’s quite fundamental questions about who can and who can’t do something in the production of space, and this is something that I think has been with my work throughout my, since I was a student I guess. Um, and um, and obviously this came through very strongly in spatial agency but is also present I guess in other work that I do, whether that’s teaching or, um, other writing. So very briefly…

DR: And do you still sort of work in the same manner that G.L.A.S sort of encouraged which involves both, both, with community groups, reflection through certain means of, um, dissemination, um, sort of theorisation and then, you know this sort of dialogue between practice and reflection…

TS: Yeah I guess this is the notion of praxis– the Marxist notion of praxis, um, which I think is crucial so um that, that nothing exists in [silos? unclear] and that you have to, it’s a perspective I guess essentially as well that you need to engage in many, you need to engage different perspectives in order to get a better..? perspective on what is actually happening, so I guess just by being in academia or by just being in practice, well you never ever get the full complete picture of anything anyway, but you get a broader idea of what the issues are that are at stake, and um, yeah it’s important to have that dialogue or multilogue or whatever you want to call it between those who are more involved in making something than others..

DR: And did you get a sense from the different, the sort of groups that you were looking at in spatial agency that they were also working in this manner or was it more intuitive?

TS: I guess intuitive but, um, obviously there is a very broad range and looking back I think I would not have included certain practices and maybe others so, um, yeah, but I think when we included these practices we had a sense that they were addressing the points which we wanted spatial practice to address, out of this broadening sense that architecture is not just building, architecture is not just one person, it’s collective making, and all of these practices didn’t see architecture as a means to and end but as something that, that had consequences and they engaged with those consequences of spatial production, so I think this is still valid for all of them.. it really comes down to these questions, who engages, who has the power to, and I think most of them engage with that in different levels of intensity I guess but it was there when we looked at them…

DR: And just one other question related to that, I suppose that we are also particularly interested in, is how certain collective groups sustain themselves and why, what are the reasons for them drawing to a close… did you get a sense of, of why certain initiatives ran out of steam or fell out or stopped or why G.L.A.S in particular stopped after a certain time…

TS: I think that it’s a bit of a pop-band phenomenon… {laughing}, so you develop, you develop in different directions and you follow certain interests, so that you develop a stronger perspective maybe on certain aspects that is not as important for others, so in G.L.A.S we faced this moment where we um, we did actually want to make the jump to become a proper practice but we couldn’t agree on how to do this… whether it would be ok for us to, um, to employ two out of the group of 13 full time and you know and then continue to grow and increase and then when we have the funds to, to eventually all of us be in there, so we didn’t manage to, um, to translate this loose structure that, to be very honest, never ever made any money really, so we had grants, we had PhD stipends, we had other work that cross funded somehow that work, so it was never self funding anyways and we didn’t manage to, um, to translate this into a practice structure, and of course we diverged at a certain point massively in terms of our interests…

DR: And you’ve sort of touched on the, quite a few actually thinking back throughout this conversation of um, the ways in which certain group members have taken forward their practice since, um, could you just sort of map out a little bit more explicitly how each person has sort of taken certain strands forward through their practice or…

TS: Ok, I think there is some more dominant people, that have taken this on more rigorously I guess than others, but, there is um, certainly there’s Jude Barber and Adrian Stewart who, Adrian was initially part of the collective but doing his own thing or has been doing his own thing now, so there was a strong interest I think amongst members to pursue these ideas through practice, through architectural practice and to put your, to put some of the ideas into concrete spatialisations. For others, and, I guess there was Alan Atlee, Gary Boyd, Florian and myself and of course this is me generalising, they might say something differently, and maybe also Rosalee Adams, she, um, we decided to go into education, and for me and I think this is also true for Florian and Alan, we saw education as a way to um, to, multiply exposure to these ideas, so again that was a conscious move, we say that we could only reach so many people by doing G.L.A.S and we thought lets, academia offers the possibility of educating students differently, exposing them to different methodologies, exposing them to different practices, exposing them to different ideas of what a critical spatial practice might be, so um I think there was a very strong strand of people who were um, interested in pursuing that.

DR: And in your teaching are you always very attentive to your own training and wanting to distance yourself and show an alternative path, not an alternative, other means of…

TS: so I guess yes, um, so this is also me, I don’t think I can separate this kind of way of operating from my person in many ways, um, so, but I keep wondering whether, whether in order to develop this strong counter position you also need a very different position in education, so I do wonder how to, whether, many, if you speak to many people, my age I guess, who went into this kind of practice, whether you speak to, doesn’t matter, all share similar stories, dissatisfaction with a very technocratic education, architectural education, and I do wonder what is actually going to happen to people who are exposed from very early on to these alternatives and how they actually build up that counter moment that was so important to me, this very strong opposition to something that existed. So I’m not quite sure how that will work out in the long run…

DR: Yeah I suppose we’ll see in generations of practice, whether

TS: Yeah so I guess there is a lot of self congratulation around at the moment about, I don’t know I just saw these links, these things on twitter, this mega-crit I think, at CSM, where Phineas Harper wrote about how, what was once alterative pedagogy, seems now to be embedded in um, in practice, in education, a crit has become maybe even has become extreme but I don’t think this is good enough, because it’s become mainstream maybe also for a reason that I don’t think It’s actually pushed boundaries strong enough, we are still in the same system that favours aesthetics, you look at the output that are being produced and I don’t think I’m more hopeful, um, because what was alternative maybe a few years back is now mainstream, I think I’m more worried than I used to be…

DR: Recuperation…

TS: Yeah, it’s completely, an appropriation, of these principles, for, um within a university system which is increasingly financialised, marketised… yeah…? so I really don’t get how people are not seeing the contradiction…

DR: Well I suppose one important facet to constantly reinforce is what critical theory is, and it should never be satisfied with the status quo… I think that’s quite an important point that might have been lost in the mega crit…

TS: Yeah… yeah… yeah…

DR: So just on a final point, knowing that your time is limited and considering you’re perhaps not quite as hopeful as it could be reflection, do you see parallels in the issues that you faced with G.L.A.S 20 years ago and what we are seeing around us, not just financialisation within the university but what’s facing practitioners in architecture, the wider social and political climate, do you think there are lots of parallels that you can draw lessons from, um in terms of your own actions in the past?

TS: Yeah, so I guess, so similar issues are still around, PFI is still there which was something that started off obviously in the late 90’s and early 2000’s and hit Glasgow particularly badly. The issue of public housing was a crucial one and of course we seem to be at a point where at least some of these more radical ideas about public housing seem to be tested at least, and might actually become realised, so, um I think there is still quite a lot of the same issues around, um, and, yeah, so, gosh, um, so many, I’m not sure how to answer that I think properly…

DR: No, no it’s a hard one, so what about, sort of the structure of practices, whether there has been an increase in more collectively oriented groups or cooperatively owned groups…

TS: Um is there? Do you know any?

DR: Um, I think, there seems to be a smattering, I don’t know if it amounts to anything that could be considered a movement…

TS: Yeah I don’t think it can really be considered a movement, so we still have obviously Ted Cullinan’s, we still have, um, yeah, I’m really fond of Architects for Social Housing and I really like this engagement with the architectural labour I guess as well, but I don’t, there are collectives, I guess Assemble is one and AOC at the time was one, where you have a cross disciplinary network of people getting together to articulate things in different ways, there are still practices around that operate according to these principles, and maybe we have more practices that are shared, but I don’t think there’s, there are some social enterprises, so Studio Polpo, Cristina’s work here In Sheffield, also, this is um, of course a very explicit social enterprise structure but doesn’t go as far as a cooperative structure I guess In many ways, so I guess many of these ideas have then been appropriated by the social enterprise discourse, which is great to one extent but don’t necessarily go as far as they could go…

DR: Yeah, and do you feel that a sort of more formalised collectivised body like a union would help to inculcate some of these things or um you know was there a reason why you elected never to join a union in the past…

TS: Yes, see um that wasn’t quite right because I’m obviously part of the UCU and I’ve been a member of the UCU since I started teaching so I’ve been member of a union, so I do believe in, in collective power, and um, and I think, unionisation would be really strong, could be strong, but, yeah…

DR: Yeah I suppose it depends how it’s framed…

TS: Yeah it depends on how it’s framed of course, but um, in principle I do believe in the power of, I guess the thing is, um, I don’t, and this is something that you also find in the literature on the Right to the City movement and so, the more successful I think these things become, sort of transgressing, if they are not just concerned with one particular field or one particular discipline, but if they are transgressing also economic and maybe even political lines, so if it becomes an alliance that is much broader than an individualised concern and this is where I guess Margaret Myers has written about some of these things where they become much more powerful because they become really quite citizen led, cross interest, movement that are much stronger than obviously individual unions. I don’t think we will, we cannot buy, we are not the pilots union, we are not small enough I guess to make that kind of impact by withdrawing our labour, if architects got together in that way and I don’t think there is a widespread interest also in that kind of union, but If you think about a unionisation across certain principles of labour lets say, then um I think that becomes more interesting…

DR: So I suppose it’s that architecture cannot be you know, separated from so many social, environmental, built environmental concerns that actually isolating it wouldn’t speak for everything it should…

TS: Yeah, I’d say so, so I think you’d have to get together with construction workers, with, with people who work in associated jobs and disciplines and potentially also…[unclear] organisations…

DR: Yeah I think that’s a great point, so I suppose the success would be in one metric how connected it is with other fields…

TS: Yeah…

DR Great, I think that’s a fantastically constructive point to end on, um, I’m aware we’ve been speaking for an hour and that you’ve got other things to do so unless you’ve got anything else you ‘d like to say to wrap it up…

TS: No, no…

DR: thank you so much…