I am an architect, but not in the traditional sense. My practice is expansive, interdisciplinary and non-disciplinary. It is not, however, undisciplined. I am pursuing the highest standards of rigour and precision, while at turns resisting and indulging in inactivity and reflection. I am most at peace when in the sea on my back, observing the horizon. I am actively redefining the social role of the architect. I do not try to impose this figure onto anyone else: I am neither didactic nor dogmatic.
Modernity wanted to harness the scientific method to design for a universal humanity. The twentieth century largely defined this universality as a world optimised for the white, heterosexual, middle class male. As a feminist, I am working towards a vision of global society that could be called intersectional modernity: using space, objects, words and images to explore and promote inclusivity, equality and democracy. I am a great believer in materialist analysis (Baudrillard, LeFebvre, Barthes), although I do not believe that purpose or meaning exist independently of human perception.
I am increasingly driven by the total artwork, which I think of as the integration of concepts, procedures, media, forms, temporal and material realities into singular propositions. This approach draws no distinction between the abstract and actual, the intellect and the body, or the idea and the act.
I am critical of the world. I do not accept it as it is. However, criticism does not mean negativity. I believe powerfully in the proposition, the project, and the positive act. The present and past are tools for constructing the future. This ambition pushes my work beyond the limitations of the ego, into collaboration, co-authorship, scalability, models and typologies.
Every person has the right to self-determination and autonomy. My life-as-a-project is dedicated to understanding what it means to live today, and how best to use the resources I have at my disposal to make tomorrow more just for all. This is a personal struggle for my own freedom, and that of others. It is the pursuit of awareness as a means to agency.
Jack's work is dedicated to promoting democracy, inclusivity and equalities of many kinds. Over the last decade, Jack has built expertise in: domestic design and housing; the history of communitarian life; new environmental standards and the circular economy; and alternative models of finance and ownership (Jack coined the phrase "form follows finance").
In 2016, Jack curated the British Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale with the show Home Economics.
He was Unit Master of Diploma Six at the Architectural Association from 2018–2020, with Guillermo Lopez and Nana Biamah-Ofosu. This master's design studio focused on domestic space and climate crisis, in three year-long programmes.
Jack's other work includes curation, exhibition design, spatial strategy, brand consultancy, communications, publishing, editing, writing and creative direction.
His clients and collaborators include the British Council, IKEA, MINI, Landsec, Prada, Virgil Abloh (LVMH), Alyx, the Royal Bank of Scotland, Price Waterhouse Cooper, Junya Watanabe (Comme des Garcons), amongst others.
As a journalist, Jack has interviewed Chelsea Manning, Kim Jones, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Marianna Mazucato, Carlo Rovelli.
His work has been shown widely, including at the Maxxi in Rome, Tate Britain, ICA and Design Museum. Jack's writing has appeared in The Guardian, eflux, 032c, Financial Times, the BBC and CNN. He has lectured at Rice, Columbia, Yale, UCLA, ETH Zurich, Edinburgh, the Royal Academy, and elsewhere (including e-flux and Sotheby's).
Jack's first book Real Estates: Life Without Debt (2014) is now in its third printing. His other books include Home Economics: New Models of Domestic Life (2016), Mies in London (2018), Symbolic Exchange (2017) and Kommunen in der Neuen Welt: Utopian Communes in America 1740-1972 (2021).
He was previously Reviews Editor for the Architectural Review (2009–2017), Editor-at-Large for 032c (2014–2018) and Deputy Editor at Strelka Press (2011-2013).
Jack holds a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of New South Wales (2007), a Diploma of Architecture from the Architectural Association (2014) and an M.Phil in Philosophy and Macroeconomics from the University of London (2011). His graduate thesis explored the morality of neoliberal economic theory, titled, "Fifty Cent: Taxation and Moral Priority." His architectural graduate thesis concerned the history of the London terrace house.
Jack Self is a registered architect with the UK ARB.
Selected links to recent lectures and publications can be found here.
An archived version of this website, which includes many PDFs of my writing from the 2010s, as well as other projects, is still available at www.jackself.com/archive
©2009–2021 Jack Self