Reading Workshop Series with Nguyen Anh Cuong

On “The Possibility of an Absolute Architecture” (Pier Vittorio Aureli, MIT Press, 2011)
The workshop focuses on certain case studies in the theory of architecture in relation to postmodern urbanization.

Time: 15.02.2019 @2:00pm
Location: Sàn Art
Millennium Masteri
Unit B6.16
132 Bến Vân Đồn, Ward 6, District 4,
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
(enter from Nguyen Huu Hao side)


  • We’ll focus on the Introduction and first chapter of the book “The Possibility of an Absolute Architecture” by Pier Vittorio Aureli (MIT Press, 2011).
  • We will read and analyze the original text alongside a Vietnamese translation.
  • Workshop facilitated by: Architect Nguyen Anh Cuong.
  • Vietnamese translation: Architect Dau Sy Nghia and Architect Vo Duy Kim


Workshop introduction:

“Architecture has been popular in recent years. Ironically, how- ever, its growing popularity is inversely proportional to the increasing sense of political powerlessness and cultural disillu- sionment many architects feel about their effective contribution to the built world. Within this paradoxical situation—and beyond the phenomenon of architecture’s “success”—it is necessary to face and acknowledge the popularity of architecture critically. To do so, we need to seriously address the unequivocal social and cultural power architecture possesses to produce represen- tations of the world through exemplary forms of built reality. At this level, the problem of form—that is, the strategizing of ar- chitecture’s being—becomes crucial. The making of form is thus the real and effective necessary program of architecture.” (Aureli)

The book “The Possibility of an Absolute Architecture” strives to define contemporary architecture in relation to an opposing force – urbanization. There is no significant architectural theory that doesn’t place itself in relation to the urban, as seen in the writings of Vitruvius, Alberti, Le Corbusier or Aldo Rossi as well as the book we’re about to read and consider. Architecture, the city, the urban and nature are activities that revolve around the production of space, a term coined by the Marxist philosopher Henri Lefebvre called. In the first chapter of the book, Aureli analyzes the formation and intrinsic origin of these notions as he delineates and defines the concepts of “form”, and “politics.” These two key concepts enable Aureli to build a correlation between Architectural Form and Urbanization, that is, a political and critical reading of architecture’s spatial knowledge in the production of space in the time of late capitalism.

The workshop aims to introduce the thinking of architectural critic Pier Vittorio Aureli, one of the most interesting architectural critics in the West today, and his multidimensional, academic and rigorous approach. This inquiry into architecture, and especially the city, a complex and overwhelming spatial object, can provide us with necessary perceptions of our everyday living environment.

About the author:

Pier Vittorio Aureli (b. Rome, 1973) is an architect and theorist. He graduated in Architecture at the IUAV in Venice. He teaches at the Architectural Association in London and is a visiting professor at the Yale School of Architecture. Aureli’s main research focus is the relationship between architectural form, political theory and urban history. He is the author of many essays on architecture and the city, including The Possibility of an Absolute Architecture (2011) and The Project of Autonomy: Politics and Architecture within and against capitalism (2008).

About the Workshop Facilitator:

Nguyễn Anh Cường is an architect-engineer. After studying and practicing in France from 2003-2017, in 2018, he established and has been practicing architecture at Nhabe Scholae Studio, Ho Chi Minh City.

Image: Rem Koolhaas, Madelon Vriesendorp
The City of the Captive Globe Project, New York, New York, Axonometric (1972)