For MacKay-Lyons the conference, called “Ideas in Things,” was a natural evolution from Ghost Lab. “We always talked about having this,” said MacKay-Lyons. “There’s a clubhouse effect of having the site, where every year people congregate.” The idea took firm hold three years ago while the architect was on a trip with four of his Ghost Lab buddies to see the ancient Dogon dwellings in Mali, Africa. That posse of North American architects—Rick Joy and Wendell Burnette (both from Arizona), Tom Kundig (Seattle), and Marlon Blackwell (Arkansas)—will speak at the conference, along with Deborah Berke (New York), Ted Flato (San Antonio), Patricia Patkau (Vancouver) and Francis Kéré (Berlin and Burkina Faso), among others. Critics will also participate, including Kenneth Frampton, Juhani Pallasmaa, and Peter Buchanan. Pritzker-Prize winner Glenn Murcutt, whom MacKay-Lyons calls “the James Brown of this movement,” may turn up, too.
And make no mistake: MacKay-Lyons and his cohorts do see this as a movement—or as Buchanan puts it, “the resistance”—to counter the numbing effects of globalization and a design culture that seems to favor theory over craft and spectacle over place. A part of the group’s mission is to take on architectural education, which, said MacKay-Lyons, has “become flakier and flakier, and less about making things.” In contract, he credits the Rural Studio at Auburn University in Alabama, or the work of Dan Rockhill at the University of Kansas, whose students design and build affordable pre-fab housing. Both Rockhill and Rural Studio director Andrew Freear will speak at the Ghost conference.
Ghost Lab 13: Ideas in Things Conference