The Bartlett School of Architecture


Reactivating the Social Condenser: Architecture against Privation

18 May 2015, 9:00 am–5:30 pm


Event Information

Open to



Jane Rendelll


Room 431/433, 4th Floor, UCL School of Slavonic and Eastern European Studies, 16 Taviton Street, London WC1H OBW

'In the habits and attitudes of the mass population, low-voltage activity and a weak consciousness would be focused through the circuits of these ‘social condensers’ into high-voltage catalysts of change.' (Moisei Ginzburg, 1927)

1. We live in a time of privation, crisis and stratification, in housing as well as in public space. Space has become a commodity, and apathy is rife
2. For nearly a century, architects, artists and thinkers have been inspired by and toyed with the grand old Soviet idea of the social condenser. Most, however, have attempted to tame this idea, or have done little other than to pay lip service to it.
3. It is high time, then, to reactivate the social condenser! We want to subject this electrifying idea to serious and systematic re-examination, to re-charge the social condenser as a vector for radical architectural thought and practice.

Confirmed participants

  • Nick Beech (Oxford Brookes/Canadian Center for Architecture)
    Social Condensation in the Metropole: Locating the First New Left
  • Jonathan Charley (University of Strathclyde)
    “Molodoi Chelovek…my origins lie in the past, but I am from the future”
  • Udo Grashoff (UCL, SSEES)
  • Owen Hatherley (London)
    Actually-Existing Social Condensers
  • Michael Marriott (artist, London)
    The Laundry Room
  • Michał Murawski (UCL, SSEES)
    Dear Distributor of Architectural Power: Letters to a Stalinist Social Condenser
  • Andrea Phillips (Goldsmiths, Fine Art)
    Art, Housing, Activism and Social Condensation: Title TBC
  • Jane Rendell (UCL, Bartlett)
    During Breakfast
  • Łukasz Stanek (Manchester School of Architecture)
    Collective Luxury
  • Dubravka Sekulic (ETH Zurich, History and Theory of Architecture)
    Self-Management and the Social Condenser
  • Oleksyi Radinskyi (Visual Culture Research Centre, Kiev)
    Annexed Architecture: Friendship of Nations in the Crimean Resort
  • Andy Willimott (UCL, SSEES)
    Everyday Life and the Soviet Urban Communes
  • Victor Buchli (UCL, Anthropology)
  • Caroline Humphrey (Cambridge, Social Anthropology)

All staff and students welcome.


The conference is supported by the UCL Urban Laboratory, and the UCL Grand Challenge: Human Wellbeing and convened by Dr Michal Murawski (SSEES, UCL) and Professor Jane Rendell (The Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL).

Image Credit: Jan Dziaczkowski, Piccadilly Circus from the Keine Grenze Series, 2008. Copyright Alexandra Dziaczkowska, Monika Klonowska, Julian Klonowski. Courtesy Foundation for Visual Arts, Kraków.