Taking more than what's there to give

Taking more than what's there to give
Still from a video on energy transmission in the production of architecture and the calculation of embodied energy through BIM models. Made by the author.
What forms of overexertion and energy extraction are involved in the production of architecture?

Alina Paias
Rotterdam, the Netherlands
Field of work
Architecture, Curating, Research
Project category
Project submitted

I am a spatial designer, an architectural worker and an independent researcher seeking to connect to the emerging field of architecture production studies by engaging with feminist philosophy, new materialism, the environmental humanities, and the philosophy of technology.

I earned a Bachelor's degree in Architecture and Urbanism (2018) from the University of São Paulo and a Master's degree cum laude (2022) in Architecture from the Delft University of Technology. My graduation project in Delft about the effects of iron ore mining on the Rio Doce valley in Brazil was selected to represent the school in awards such as the national Archiprix, the the DAIDA Foundation Global Urban Thesis Award and the EUmies Young Talent Architecture Award.

I was an architectural worker for years in São Paulo, Brazil, and also worked as an assistant curator, researcher and writer at RADDAR between 2018 and 2020. I am currently a spatial designer at CLOUD, in Rotterdam, working on projects for cultural institutions and developing art installations. I was recently selected to be part of the collective of curators for the 2024 International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam (IABR), which will investigate how architecture can provide the conditions for hope and hopeful action.

You can find me occasionally teaching at TU Delft, writing essays for books alone and with friends, and presenting my narrative experiments at events and conferences.

Associations between architecture and energy have come to the fore in recent years. Beyond the known concept of embodied energy, theorists like Renata Tyszczuk, Barnabas Calder and Kevin Bernard Moultrie Daye have respectively explored the spatialized forms of energy systems, the history of energy consumption for the construction of architecture and the invisible bodies in talks of embodied energy.
This project builds upon these conversations and incorporates more synaptic accounts of energy transmission and dissipation, such as Denise Ferreira da Silva’s raw materialism and Bernard Stiegler’s negentropy, into the architecture and energy debate.
How can we speak of different forms of overexertion and extraction of energy involved in the production of architecture? At the point of raw material extraction, they manifest in the collapse of a dam or the total consumption of a mountain or forest; as that material is transported, it is the burning of fuel and generation of emissions beyond planetary systems’ abilities to repair themselves; at the construction site, it is injury due to the excessive stress of the body as a way to extract maximum surplus value; at the architecture office, it is mental health problems and carpal tunnel syndromes.
An account of energy transmission, dissipation and extraction that considers all of the pathways involved in the production of architecture is one that manages to successfully tie in the spaces and stages that make up this production.
This project's conceptual structure involves energy, work as energy deployment, the body and its physical limits, the worker groups in the architecture industry, and the technologies involved in architecture production. The goal is to contribute to the understanding of indelible relationships of response-ability at play in the architect’s practice, as she is always designing not only a space but (more or less violent) forms in which energy itself will transduce.