Office/MA: Black Urbanism

Rarely do we allow much thought to seemingly generic labels such as "urban." Outside the cloistered world of architecture, "urban" has become a synonym for "Black and Latino" where it is used to describe things from fashion to music. Facing this reality is the explicit purview of The Office for Metropolitan Alternatives (Office/MA), a group founded by Paul Goodwin and John Oduroe to investigate how the aesthetics of Black Diasporic culture could influence and inspire architectural form making.

As the director of the Re-Visioning Black Urbanism at the Centre for Urban and Community Research (CUCR) at Goldsmiths College in London, Paul Goodwin explores how multiple modes of 'blackness' engage with the dynamics of contemporary urbanism in the UK. At one of his seminars, Paul met John Oduroe, a young architect in London on a Fulbright Scholarship.

It may appear that their project shares much in common with Teddy Cruz, who draws from the spatial strategies of border communities and shantytowns in order to build a more adaptive architecture. But then - Cruz doesn't exactly brand his research as "Latin urbanism." So is "Black urbanism" just a provocation, or do the spatial resistance strategies of urban black communities differ from other immigrant and diasporic communities?