Julien Lafontaine Carboni (they/them) is an architect, educator, researcher and activist advocating and working for epistemic and social justice in the architectural discipline and profession, and in the built environment. Their research investigates politics and infrastructures of architectural history (subaltern epistemology, chronopolitics, repertoires and archives), historiographies of the flesh, oral and embodied epistemologies, reenactments and queer performativity. They currently work, research and teach at ALICE, EPFLausanne, and in the Chair of Architectural Heritage and Sustainability at ETHZurich.
They are currently editing the forthcoming book Unearthing Traces, Dismantling the imperialist entanglements of archives, landscapes and the built environment (PPUR, 2023) together with Denise Bertschi and Nitin Bathla. The book gathers contributions from Françoise Vergès, Léopold Lambert, Nolan O. Dennis, Hollyamber Kennedy, Rohit Jain and Abdessamad El Montassir. The publication continues the discussion initiated by the eponymous doctoral course and international conference (May 2021), and explores the politics of memory at the intersection of archives and the built environment bringing in a wide array of perspectives, methods and practices to unearth and dismantle traces of colonialism and coloniality within European urban environments.
Julien Lafontaine Carboni received their PhD thesis with distinction in April 2022, at EPFL. Entitled (from) the repertoire: an architectural theory of operations, the research delves into embodied and oral architectural knowledge, theory and heritage, building on the vast array of architectural histories that are crafted, preserved and transmitted while remaining undrawn and unwritten. It discusses the politics and economies of architectural historiography which excluded these knowledge from the infrastructures of official knowledge production (the archives, the university, etc.) while introducing the repertoire as an organic infrastructure of transmission and conservation. The flesh of this thesis revolves around discussions with older generations of the Sahrawi people, in the refugee camps near Tindouf, South Algeria, within an oral memory preservation program of the Sahrawi Ministry of Culture. Upon these discussions and debates, the research elaborates on the ethics and paradoxes of preserving and archiving the repertoire in proposing strategic relationships escaping the toxicity of historical discourses thanks to re-enactment practices and their ambiguous grammars.
They write in several architectural and philosophical journals and magazines, such as Architecture and Culture, Charrette, Plan Libre, L’atelier Magazine, GTA Papers and Tabula Rasa, and contributed to several books such as State, Society and Islam in the Western Regions of the Sahara (ed. F. Freire 2022) and Training spatial abilities: a workbook for students of architecture (ed. A. Gerber 2020). They regularly
share their work in lectures, conferences, exhibitions and are invited to design studios jurys of ALICE, LDM, Studio Elii, Maria Conen, etc.
Julien taught and teaches at undergraduate, graduate and doctoral level at EPFL and ETHZ in the format of studios, seminars and workshops, and has been tutoring Master thesis since 2020. In their pedagogies, they try to follow the radical perspective opened up by Paulo Freire, Audre Lorde, Mary Louise Pratt and Gayatri Spivak, understanding teaching as the creation of communities of knowledge and toward postdomination pedagogies.
They have been engaged in institutional activism in the DRAGlab since its birth in 2020 at EPFL, advocating for more inclusive and diverse curricula by introducing and supporting antiracist, feminist and queer theories and practices within architecture schools.