Urban planning during state socialism: global ambitions, national ideologies and local desires
During the period of state socialism, two elements were essential to the state organisation: the abolition of the private property and the establishment of the central planning of the state, contributing greatly to the urban planning processes in socialist countries. The ambitions to create a new form and pattern of the city, with clearly designated boundaries, were embodied in the ideal socialist planning goals and helped in the formation of new cities or the substantial redevelopment patterns of existing ones. Prompting a particular relationship between design, ideology and local desires, architects embraced opportunities to design cities following often strict guidelines by the authorities.
Urban planning during the period of state socialism gave a rise to a city that was centralised, structurally uniform and based on administrative norms in which housing distribution, public services and recreational amenities were equally distributed and accessible to all. The quantity of service utilities was normatively projected upon the number of inhabitants in each neighbourhood contributing to the formation of socialist communities within the city boundaries. The city centre was the most vital part of the socialist city, providing a setting for its political, cultural and administrative functions.
This session will focus on the planning practices and the transformations of the built environment of cities during the period of state socialism, aiming to generate a comparative discussion on the theme on the basis of case-studies from around the world. This session welcomes papers that study the urban planning processes during the period of state socialism after the WWII and may include reflections on:
- The role of the state in the planning processes in socialist countries;
- Case studies of neighbourhoods, districts, microraions as major features of planning built during the period of state socialism and the role of the state in their design and construction;
- Case studies of new socialist cities and towns as a showcase of the socialist theories implemented in spatial settings;
- Critical analysis of the impact of the national ideologies and their narratives on the planning processes at local level;
- The impact of the socialist planning decisions and practice on the urban developments and transformations until today;
- Applicability of the socialist planning practices to contemporary planning approaches.
Jasna Mariotti, School of Natural and Built Environment, Queen’s University Belfast
Kadri Leetmaa, Centre for Migration and Urban Studies, Department of Geography, University of Tartu
Public Health in the Early Modern City: Salutogenesis Through Architecture
In 1979, medical sociologist Aaron Atonovsky coined the term “salutogenesis” to refer to factors that promote physical and mental health and, in so doing, offered a new lens to consider the study of health beyond the mere consideration of death and disease (pathogenesis). Though rarely remarked upon in such terms in architectural history, in fact the practices of architecture, city planning, and landscape design have been employed over time and across diverse geographies toward salutogenic, or health-enhancing, purposes. For example, essential resources like water have been manipulated and distributed through infrastructure across and beyond urban areas to sustain basic health, and gardens, hospitals, and other therapeutic spaces have arisen within cities to aid healing and health-promoting practices.
Following the 16th century, architecture and urbanism went through significant changes during what is known today as the Early Modern era. This era witnessed major reforms in political, economic, and cultural institutions across the world from Europe to East Asia. Contemporaneous with these shifts, city planning and design were leveraged to improve public health in cities through a host of new public resources and construction projects, including urban infrastructure (e.g., bathhouses, irrigation system, roads), medical facilities, therapeutic landscapes, and places for gathering and entertainment. These ideas illustrate Gesler’s (2003) four categories of healthy environments—built, symbolic, natural, and social—and convey how architectural history owes some debt to public health. Further, these urban interventions were justified by theories of health, healing, and benevolent medical practice. Thus, alongside novel built forms and ideas about the architectural qualities and resources essential to healing and health, a new constellation of legitimizing discourses emerged among those in power. Public health, then, offers a critical lens through which to view the function, use, and social significance of institutions and spatial practices within early modern cities—and of architecture itself.
This session seeks to situate the development of early modern cities within these broader trends by exploring the profound and complex ways that architecture and landscape design were conceived of and employed as instruments of health promotion in the development of urban infrastructure, institutions, and spaces in Western and Eastern societies in the 16th – 18th centuries. Submitted papers could explain how notions of public health or medical practice at a given moment in time influenced the design of either regular or explicitly therapeutic buildings and spaces in a urban context; how scientific and cultural contexts of health and cross-cultural exchanges impacted the design of healthy cities; how the integration of landscapes and other salutogenic urban projects were inspired or justified by visions for a healthy and productive society; and the role of non-architects in the design of health-promoting places. Authors may focus on a single structure, a specialized typology, interventions in a particular city or region, or any other topic relevant to the architectural implications of public health. Especially welcome are submissions that deploy new methodological, interdisciplinary, and/or comparative approaches to the analysis of salutogenic spaces.
Mohammad Gharipour, Morgan State University
Caitlin P. DeClercq, Interdisciplinary Center for Healthy Workplaces, UC Berkeley
Ephemerality and Monumentality in Modern Europe (c.1750-1900)
The concept of monumentality conjures permanence, or at least an aspiration to durability: the etymology of the word (Latin: monere, to remind) underscores the idea that monuments should survive those who build them so as to remind those who come after, perhaps long after. Yet throughout history the monumental has always also been challenged, confronted, or invaded by ephemerality, both in a negative sense, as when monuments intended to be permanent are destroyed, but also positively, as in the fabrication of deliberately ephemeral public monuments. This panel seeks to explore this second category, the deliberately ephemeral monument, in the specific context of eighteenth‐ and nineteenth‐century Europe. Monuments are defined broadly here to include official, unofficial, or semi‐official examples of infrastructure, urbanism, installation, or urban decors that stake a claim to speak to collective memory in common public spaces. What is particular about ephemeral public monuments in modern times? Such monuments may communicate a distinctly modern anxiety about immutable declarations, or reflect the rhythms of public time implied in Baudelaire’s famous description of modernity as “the ephemeral, the fugitive, the contingent, the half of art whose other half is the eternal and the immutable.” They may reflect the discontinuities of an age in which the changeable will of the public displaced the authority of eternal gods; in which mere social reproduction no longer seemed the destiny of humanity; in which the future was widely expected to be very different from the present. Richard Taws has recently suggested that ephemeral and provisional objects can influence historical mythos by their very ephemerality, which shifts the focus of meaning from an imagined posterity to the more proximate reality of their creation. Thinkers as radically different as Georges Bataille and Karsten Harries have been cited in debates about whether ephemeral architectures might offer a solution to the historical problem of meaning in contemporary architecture. Urban ephemerality has been the subject of enormously suggestive research by current scholars working mostly on other temporal and geographical contexts. We are interested in papers that bring the history of modern European ephemeral public monuments and monumentality into conversation with this burgeoning historical and theoretical literature.
Richard Wittman, University of California at Santa Barbara
Taylor Van Doorne, University of California at Santa Barbara
Splitted Cultures/New Dialogues: Research in Architectural History and Theory
It is obvious that research in architectural history and theory is currently splitted into different academic cultures, namely art history and architectural theory. Of course, this was not always the case. Up to the second half of the 20th century art historians had a great impact on contemporary architectural debates and substantially contributed to theoretical issues. Simultaneously, authors trained both as architects and art historians guaranteed a constant flow between historical narratives and design practice, or even advocated the autonomy of architecture. In late 20th century these productive intersections between art history, architectural history and architectural theory came to an end. Art history widely withdrew from contemporary debates on architecture and theoretical production, whereas architectural theory claimed the status of an autonomous non-historic discipline. We argue that this led to a paradox situation. In the 60s, in a time of political turmoils, theory substantially contributed to a critical discussion on widely accepted historical narratives hereby uncovering their political ideologies. Historical consciousness was fundamental to instutional critique and to debates on architecture as art, politics and theory. Since the 90s this totally changed. Philosophy remained part of both disciplines. But whereas the iconic turn came to play a vital role in art history, which began to understood itself also as “Bildwissenschaften”, architectural theory became part of post-critical debates and was defined as projective thinking. Furthermore, great parts of theoretical thinking turned into a legitimation strategy for architectural positions, aesthetic preferences and architectural design practice. On the other hand architectural history no longer played an important role within art history. While theory was increasingly regarded as mere speculation, not seeing that some of art history’s most important contributions were exactly this, speculation. By consequence, the many attempts that had been made to differentiate between history and theory caused a great number of contradictions and misunderstandings rather than clarifying disciplinary bounderies.
Departing from this situation our round table is conceived as a twofold dialogue: It welcomes reflections on the historical, institutional and political reasons of the above mentioned split and contributions opening up a new dialogue between architectural history, theory and practice. This includes questions such as: What role do institutions and different genres of “writing” play for the intensity and diversity but also the reinforced interruption of the dialogue? To what extend is critique already part of the “economy of attention” and what does it mean to be critical? How far can history be understood (again) as critical practice?
Brigitte Sölch, Staatliche Akademie der Bildenden Künste Stuttgart
Carsten Ruhl, Kunstgeschichtliches Institut Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main
User Comfort, Functionality, and Sustainability as (Early?) Modern Architectural Concerns
User Comfort, Functionality and Sustainability as (Early?) Modern Architectural Concerns User comfort, functionality and sustainability are predominant concerns of contemporary architecture, related to the complex physical and sensory interaction between the user and the building. They include aspects of thermal and acoustic comfort, a healthy indoor environment, accessibility, and siting. They also depend on the choice of construction techniques and materials as well as the availability of consumable resources. Whilst these issues are studied by historians in the fields of economy, philosophy, environmental studies, and cultural studies, they remain rather unexplored in the study of early modern architecture (16th-18th C.). They even seem to exist in opposition to the cultural concepts of representation prevalent in the study of architecture before Enlightenment (DeJean, 2010).
These concepts were not yet standards, let alone clearly defined, in early modern architectural design and theory, in which domestic amenity gave priority to social status over personal comfort. Yet, they played an increasingly relevant role in a period climatologically described as the Little Ice Age (1550-1720), during which technical innovations, practical experimentation, Newtonian physics and a developing culture of sensibility shaped attitudes to material culture (Mukherjee, 2014).
The aim of the session is to investigate how concerns regarding the built and natural environment operated as catalysts for innovative technological and architectural responses, and to demonstrate the connection between the well-known notions of status and representation and the new concepts of personal comfort and convenience.
Discussing the role of these topics in the early modern architectural discourse and design can bridge the perceived gap between what is often superficially considered a practically-driven, socially conscious modern period, and its architecturally unrestrained, environmentally carefree and user-unfriendly predecessor. On the contrary, this panel will show remarkable similarities in identifying and investigating architectural solutions aimed at user convenience. Furthermore we seek to cross the disciplinary poles of the technological and scientific versus the historical and humanistic, bringing to the fore how the complex relationship between people and the environment informs the construction of equally complex architectural responses.
We invite papers dealing with architectural design, theory and regulation using a broad spectrum of archival evidence and a targeted study of the treatise tradition of this period. We encourage first-hand investigation of existing architectures with regards to building techniques, materiality, spatiality, consumables and other measurable concerns. The panel welcomes applications considering different scales, from component level (furniture, systems) over room to building level set within the urban or rural environment.
Giovanna Guidicini, Glasgow School of Art
Anne-Françoise Morel, KU Leuven Department of Architecture
Shifting Identities of the Ottoman Vernacular
The “Ottoman house” refers to a vernacular building type and urban housing layout that became ubiquitous across a large swathe of regions, from Anatolia to the Adriatic in the eighteenth and nineteenth century. Equally shared by different ethnic groups and religious denominations, it represented a common, pre-national cultural model and pre-modern architectural type distinguished by a number of elements that featured numerous local variants. However, despite being the “syncretic product of a multiethnic society”, it has been symptomatically identified as “Turkish” and “Oriental”. In the era of nationalism, which reached its peak after the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, the Ottoman house and its associated meanings went on an unexpectedly complex and controversial semiotic journey.
Practically all post Ottoman successor states, including the republican Turkey, endeavoured to appropriate and “nationalize” the once common architectural heritage, both by scholarly interpretation and a “modern vernacular” building production. This included the unequivocal rebuttal of its Oriental identity through the question of its origins that became both complex and contradictory. Was the Ottoman house autochthonous or derivative? Was its ancestry Byzantine, Ancient Greek, Slavic, or genuinely Turkish; or even Thracian and Illyrian? Or was its cultural backbone pan-Balkan or Mediterranean? While architectural historians tried to trace back the Ottoman house’s roots, the cities in which it flourished had already been de-Ottomanized and “Europeanized” — from the Black Sea to the Adriatic coast, from the Dodecanese to the Danube — causing the precarious vernacular heritage to be paradoxically seen as an obstacle to the national culture and a source of its identity. At the same time, its architectural features were appreciated through the modernist lenses of rationality, functionalism, simplicity and honesty. Propelled by Le Corbusier’s enduring interest in what he called the “architectural masterpieces” of the Ottoman vernacular, various interpretations by historians, anthropologists and architects included the Ottoman house in the modernist discourse about universal responses to natural conditions and a cultural ethos that transcended history.
A key rationale for this session is a paradox that lies at the heart of this identitydynamics in which the once common heritage, which was initially despised and then so utterly transformed to become the epitome of national parochialism, was also seen as a protomodernist expression of universal and supra-ethnic principles. The proposed session would invite the participants to investigate this remarkable afterlife—both written and constructed—of Ottoman vernacular architecture, torn between cultural exceptionalism and cultural universalism.
Aleksandar Ignjatovic, University of Belgrade
Migration and Domesticity in the Long Nineteenth Century
The theme of domesticity and displacement has become a central topic of architectural scholarship. This is manifest in EAHN’s 2019 themed conference on the subject as well as a growing number of publications that appear in academic and professional journals. Most of these studies address contemporary phenomena and events of recent history, with some scholars extending the discussion into the displacements of the twentieth century and the architectures that accompanied them. Earlier histories of domestic spaces in migration contexts are, however, still largely conspicuous by their absence.
The subject of home on the move, of home-making in the wake of displacement, of taking flight, coping and making do is without doubt sharply relevant in today’s world. Its actuality is precipitated partly by the discussions of the “refugee crisis” or “migration problem” – phenomena that, in the journalistic and political rhetoric, are often presented as novel challenges of the modern world. While this exposition is misleading (migration is as old as humankind), some aspects of population movement in its current form are clearly modern: the nation state with sharply imposed and policed boundaries, national belonging as a cornerstone of individual identity, and the idea of domesticity in the sense of inalienable rootedness. These notions, which now frame our understanding of “home” and “foreign,” were moulded to a great extent during the long nineteenth century.
This panel invites contributions on the subject of domestic space within nineteenth-century migration contexts broadly conceived. Possible subjects might include home-making in the context of forced and voluntary relocation of Europeans to the colonies, domestic spaces of displaced colonial populations, re-settlement of refugees from European wars, and co-opting of domestic space into national projects. We will be looking to examine the ways in which ideas of home and belonging were shaped in the context of the increasingly global world of the nineteenth century with a view to expose some of the assumptions that began to be made about the notion of home and the idea of migration during this period. With hope, historicising the origins of these assumptions might help us begin to investigate how the age-old phenomenon of migration became a problem in our times.
Elena Chestnova, Mendrisio Academy of Architecture, Università della Svizzera italiana
Cosmopolitanism's Others: Transnational Architecture and Planning beyond Europe and North America
Of late, much has been written about transnational networks of architecture and planning in the midtwentieth century. Many accounts of the circulation of knowledge and movement of people across politically-bounded territories challenge and expand existing histories of modern architecture, particularly those that equate internationalization with westernization and those that understand localization through nationalist narratives. But with a few exceptions, almost all the transnational actors that are celebrated are expatriate male, white and based in metropolitan centers in Europe or North America. Whiteness refers to a description of the historical legacy of colonialism and contemporary realities of structural power of the white-dominated West in virtually all spheres. Architects like Constantinos Doxiadis and Ieoh Ming Pei — part of the New Commonwealth migration of the “long boom” in the 1950s and 1960s and part of the SinoAmerican elite respectively—fall into this paradigm.
By privileging the expatriate male and white as primary transnational actors, these accounts have mostly overlooked the contributions made by other actors and who are not based in the metropolitan centers of Europe and America. Even when these “local” actors are included, they tend to be relegated to secondary roles as passive local collaborators and informants. They are consigned to being actors with limited cosmopolitanism and highly circumscribed agency in the transnational networks of architecture and planning. However, many of them were educated in the metropole, internationally well-connected, and some practiced beyond the nations in which they held citizenship. Within Asia, we can already identify figures like Minette de Silva, Charles Correa, Balkrishna V. Doshi, Muzharul Islam, Sumet Jumsai, Lim Chong Keat, William Lim, Koichi Nagashima and Wang Chiu-Hwa. We believe that similar marginalized cosmopolitan figures abound in Africa, the Middle East, Latin America and elsewhere in the Global South.
This panel invites papers that explore topics related to these marginalized figures in the Global South to interrogate accounts of transnational networks of architecture and planning in the mid-twentieth century. By rethinking the marginalized subjects in relation to broader questions of race, class, gender and geopolitical circumstance, this panel seeks to deepen our understanding of the contexts and processes of transnational circulation of discourses and practices. Papers may include critical accounts of these figures’ involvement in transnational networks and the architecture they produced as congealment of broader socio-political forces, reflections on the perpetuation of exclusion in narration and/or representation, or address gaps in historiography and/or methodological approaches towards a subject.
Eunice Seng, The University of Hong Kong
Jiat-Hwee Chang, The National University of Singapore
Design as Process in Pre-Modern Architecture
Historians have long been attentive to the way in which architectural projects evolve over time. In the gradual refinement of a design, scholars can often see the architect grappling with the desires and resources of both patrons and users of a building. Any reconstruction of a project’s genesis will naturally involve a host of issues, from planning and style to patronage, iconography, and reception.
Our normative conception of the design process understandably yokes it to the executed building, but it is worth noting that this view involves some unintended drawbacks. To the extent that the built work remains the privileged object of study, it can hinder a fuller understanding of the very conditions underlying architectural practice. Instead of a restricted focus on buildings as the outcome of the design process, this panel seeks to contextualize the process of design itself. That process has always been historically contingent, subject both to technological constraints and the level of knowledge available at a given time. The recent advent, for example, of computer-generated design and the almost complete disappearance of pen-and-paper drawing from architectural offices and schools bring home the mutability of architectural practice like nothing else. Architects of the period before modernity were no less affected by such changes.
We seek contributions on design as process, with no restriction on geographic range, from the ancient world to mid-eighteenth century. Papers might highlight the use of proportional or compass-based methods of generating form; techniques of measurement and of drawing, both on paper and at full scale; the organization of the office or workshop and its relationship to the building site; or the limitations and advantages imposed by local materials and regional construction techniques. Such an approach would be attentive to the material culture of architectural practice as it is embedded, for example, in drawings, instruments, models, and, of course, buildings themselves. The perspective adopted here would see the designer’s studio, the stone-yard, the drawing floor, and construction site not merely as places where the architectural object takes shape, but where architectural knowledge is deployed, exchanged, and amplified among various participants in the building process. Above all, our papers will seek to elucidate how projects are conceptualized and executed within a horizon of existing education, abilities, tools, and techniques.
Anthony Gerbino, University of Manchester
Rethinking Architecture for Friars: Process and Spatial Solutions in the Medieval and Early Modern Europe, 1200 - 1500
The convents of the mendicant friars played a central role in the construction of the cities of Late Middle age and Early Modern Europe (1200-1500). The international character of the orders and mobility of the friars meant that new trends, styles and social practices spread rapidly throughout Europe: friars were as much “missionaries” of social practices as they were of architectural or decorative ones. This panel poses the question of how to situate Mendicant architecture as a result of the product of spiritual, social and economic policies negotiated between convents and citizenship, between laity and religious.
This session (born from the international project “The medieval city, the city of the friars”, 2018 AISU Networking Call for Proposal and Medieval Heritage Platform, Politecnico di Torino DIST) focuses on the mendicant construction strategies. Architecture extends into the city and permeates the urban constructions. This strongly determines the conception of the construction of convents as result of the interaction of several factors related to the will to self-representation, the progressive affirmation of order and the utopian ideal of poverty, always conditioned by the search for economic support and by the local conjunctures.
Conventual buildings as a result of a long process of becoming, as part of an organic and additive approach to architecture. The architecture of the new orders was by definition work in progress molded to their changing institutional character and the conventualization of their settlements. “Friars used a combination of all these possibilities: their architecture had an amoeba-like mobility that responded to requests by donors for altars and chapels as well as to broader changes in social, economic and spiritual circumstances” (C. Bruzelius, Preaching, Building, 2014).
The papers should explore and identify common mendicant building strategy through different cases documenting these long constructive processes.
The questions we wish to raise include also:
− How was the ideal of poverty as conceived by Saints Francis and Dominic transformed into monumental buildings?
− How the structures emerged from decades or centuries of construction and expansion the reflected changes in the spiritual ideals and social norms that shaped urban and sacred spaces?
− What were the main economic and architectural solutions for friars construction sites?
− Was there something particular and identifiable about the building of the friars? The use of recurrent dimensional modules in the different parts of the building, widely found for some monastic architectures, seems to take on a different declination in the mendicant building sites.
Organisers: Silvia Betramo, Politecnico di Torino
Catarina Villamariz, Nova University of Lisbon
Discussant: Gianmario Guidarelli, University of Padua
English as the Academic Lingua Franca?
Today, it seems almost inevitable that the lingua franca of an international peer reviewed academic journal is English. While earlier generations of English intellectuals taught themselves Italian in order to read Dante in the original (to paraphrase Reyner Banham, who himself learned to drive in order to read Los Angeles), today’s non-native English speakers must not only read, but also write in English in order to be part of the self-asserted “international” academic community. Native English speakers may find it difficult to imagine the greater efforts and time investment required to express oneself in a language that is not one’s mother tongue. Articles from non-native English speakers for example, need significant extra editorial support to meet the publication standard.
At the same time, many of these authors have access to unique sources and materials that are only available for those who can read and contextualize them. By default articles on topics that require knowledge of other languages than English, question dominant theories, methods, discourses, and historiographies by demonstrating an infinitely more complex (geographical) architectural realm. They offer alternative readings of long-existing theories and concepts such as (post)colonialism, feminism, transnationalism, heritage, and environmentalism. Despite the arguable and disciplining norms of international (read Anglo-American) academic publishing, one could state that the use of English as lingua franca, proves to be crucial to overcome geographical and cultural boundaries. It is only by using one common language, that an academic community can be truly critical and self-reflective.
But one could also state that language is not a neutral tool. It comes with vocabulary constraints, culturally-loaded words, preconceived mind-sets and normative ways of expressing arguments and ideas that in turn unilaterally fashion how (selected) things are looked at and what conclusions are derived from their observation. The dominance of academic English is moreover a segregating device leading to over-representation of certain issues and narratives and complete omission of others. These biases are rarely reflected upon. Accepting linguistic diversity and promoting multilinguism should help academia to be more inclusive – in other words, enriched.
This round table invites contributions that reflect on the pros and cons of English as the modern academic lingua franca, and is especially interested in personal experiences, statements and cases that illustrate in a concrete way one’s position in the debate.
Petra Brouwer, University of Amsterdam
Johan Lagae, Ghent University
The Urban Commons: Collective Actors, Architectural Agency and the City
Already in Governing the Commons (1990), Elinor Ostrom identified specific urban spaces and infrastructures as ‘common resources’, fostered by groups of citizens as a way of resisting top-down governance and commodification. Today, the notion of the ‘urban commons’ appears as an index for historians to examine a number of collective actors and operations that have gone beyond the dominant agencies of the state and the market to develop new urban spaces, no longer graspable through the dichotomy of public versus private territories. By side-stepping the intrinsic constraints of largescale state and commercial parties, these initiatives genuinely innovated the design of ‘common goods’ as exemplified in architectural projects for co-housing, co-working spaces and communal urban gardens.
And yet, the closer examination of such collective interventions reveals a number of inner contradictions. Many have been carried out by a progressive bourgeoisie, for whom the exploration of social and political alternatives was ultimately elective. Their entanglement with existing social and cultural capital often propagated social inequality and reinforced hegemonic structures, rather than substantially challenging them. Another critique, of particular relevance to architects, highlights the insubstantial, improvised and transitory nature of many collective operations (squats, common gardens, political protests etc.). For those concerned with the city as a physical, lasting artefact, the urban commons only seldomly acquired a requisite materiality.
This session calls for exemplary case studies of collective operations (neighbourhood associations, co-housing initiatives, Baugruppen, etc.) that had a palpable impact on the material fabric of the city. These may operate outside the duality of state and market or, more realistically, as hybrids that make use of conventional mechanisms as levers to empower their own agency. What innovative urban figures have emerged as a result? How do they differ from equivalent configurations determined by centralised or speculative development? How is collective ownership encoded into the spatial and morphological structures? Additionally, we are interested in the role of architects and other enablers in mediating between the socio-political agendas of collective actors and existing codes, regulations and power structures.
In a historical range from the 19th century to today, we will prioritise examples that document genuinely grassroots collective actors, from the lower tier of social hierarchies, or initiatives that cut across social strata. Similarly, we particularly welcome case studies extraneous to the developed capitalist economies of the Global North.
Irina Davidovici, ETH Zurich
Tom Avermaete, ETH Zurich
Multilateralism since 1945. From the Comecon to the Belt and Road Initiative
The Belt and Road Initiative, launched in 2013 by China, has been described as the biggest development plan in history. However, the Initiative is part of a longer history of state-led, multilateral project since World War II. This session will revisit them and question the ways in which the dynamics of multilateral cooperation resulted in architecture and urbanisation at multiple scales. Possible topics include the Chinese-financed and built Uhuru Railway linking Tanzania and Zambia (1970-75) as well as the coordinated, multilateral technical assistance granted to Cuba, Chile, Mongolia, and Vietnam by socialist countries, and to Afghanistan (1960s) by countries across Cold War divisions. Papers also may address the management of multilateral cooperation and technical assistance by international organisations, such as UNESCO, and the European Development Fund (since 1957). We are particularly interested in collaboration within the Comecon, or the Council of Mutual Economic Assistance, and its multilateral coordination of architecture, planning, construction, and construction material industries in socialist countries. The latter straddled many scales and materialities, from large-scale projects such as the Druzhba pipeline, linking the Soviet Union and its Eastern European satellites, to attempts at the unification of architectural norms, building regulations, and industrial standards in Comecon countries.
While in the recent years scholars have given much attention to architectural cooperation during the Cold War, most of these studies have been focused on bilateral relations, including continuities in architectural mobilities since the colonial period (Western Europe) and the emergence of new actors (USA, Eastern Europe, Israel, China). The study on multilateral cooperation not only advances this scholarship but also allows to reconceptualise its terms. In particular, the focus on more than two actors facilitates a move beyond the dichotomies between dispatcher and receiver, centre and periphery, the foreign and the local. Instead, it foregrounds questions of collaboration, coordination, and the division of labour, including the changing power dynamics such questions entail. Because of the often prolonged character of these engagements, they pose questions about learning processes, feed-back loops, and the incorporation of gained experience into new projects. Because of their large scale, multilateral projects facilitate comparison between the specific ways in which strategic objectives were implemented and modified by various actors and the effects of these initiatives in diverse geographic locations.
Lukasz Stanek, The University of Manchester
Richard Anderson, The University of Edinburgh
The Role of Women in the Building of Cities in Medieval and Early Modern Europe
Until recently, historians of the built environment have assumed that, before the modern era, women had little or no involvement in the making of architecture and development of cities, other than a role as patron. Women did not participate in municipal government, nor were they traditionally allowed membership in guilds related to the building crafts. Yet, women played an important role in other aspects of the commercial activity and prosperity of the city. Was the business of building always an exception? Only in the last decades have glimpses of the true nature of women’s contribution come to the fore. Cases have been published of medieval and early modern women working in a range of occupations: poor women hired for manual labor on the construction site, women working with their husbands and fathers in the building crafts, widows continuing the workshops of their deceased husbands, and women supplying and transporting building materials. Their numbers have been reportedly few at any given site; yet they were there.
This session invites papers that complicate the accepted interpretations of women’s agency in the city and those that look for new ways to analyze the limited archival evidence. There is abundant literature today on aristocratic women as patrons of secular and monastic works; but, were there cases of non-elite women acting as patrons of civic projects through donation, testament, or the purchase of municipal public debt? Aristocratic women had opportunities to influence and guide the design of the projects they patronized; did bourgeois women design or manage architectural projects privately on their own property? What was the nature of middle class womens’ unpaid “support” in their family’s craft or trade? And in studying this, are we highlighting women’s agency or oppression? Looking closer at the evidence itself, in what ways does archival material occlude or omit the presence of women; and what can that tell us? Did documented daily activities of urban women affect the spatial structure and character of an urban center? If we cast a broader, collaborative net across a region, this may provide enough evidence to propose a rationale for women’s labor on, and related to, the construction site. If a wide spatial and temporal understanding presents itself, is it time to re-write the history of (pre-modern) architecture from an alternative, feminist point of view?
Shelley Roff, University of Texas at San Antonio
Architects do not make buildings: A last call for disegno
‘Architects do not make buildings, they make drawings of buildings’ . In his 1989 contribution to the CCA’s major publication Architecture and its Image, Robin Evans eloquently affirmed the important role of architectural drawings within architectural practice. Often mediating between architectural conception and realisation, the drawing proposes a free space for the construction of architectural thought. The affordances and limitations of specific media used, suggest a certain way of thinking about architecture, at times prophesying technological innovations in representation. Likewise, innovation in media and technical instruments has given way to new forms of thinking and representation. One could argue that the material medium and technique of the drawing affords, limits or directs the conception of the architectural drawing and the architectural project; in other words, that the drawing constitutes the formal, material or atmospheric qualities of the project. As such architectural drawings, their making, material histories and collaborators, contribute to an alternative architectural historiography. The period between the 1960s–80s, which could be considered a last call for disegno, is rich with examples spanning from the pencil drawings and paintings of Aldo Rossi to the sketches and paintings by Zaha Hadid, from the axonometric drawings of Ricardo Bofill to the collages and silkscreens of OMA.
This EAHN session is interested in exploring the material history of architectural drawings. It welcomes papers considering the two-dimensional conventions of architectural representation (floor plans, sections, facades, axonometric or perspectival views) in relation to the techniques and media used (sketchbook, painting, collage, etching, pen, pencil, ink-wash). It focusses on drawings stemming from the postmodern period in Europe and is particularly interested in proposals relating the forensics of drawing to the construction of architectural ideas. It explores several questions: How does the drawing push the limits of representation to influence the proposal? How does the technique of representation enable a certain approach towards architecture? How does a concise analysis of the drawing and its materiality propose an alternative historiography? And how might this enable us to rethink ideas of authorship in architecture?
Véronique Patteeuw, ENSAP Lille
Tina Di Carlo, Drawing Matter
Drive-In Architecture, Carriage to Motor Age
The drive-in is the place where the vehicle and the building collide. Just as architecture by its nature is static, the vehicle is by definition dynamic. What happens at this – controlled – collision, when mobility and immobility meet? In what ways is architecture challenged by the moving object, what concessions does a building make to accommodate movement, and how does it signal that movement here, temporarily, comes to a halt? Finally, how does drive-in architecture accommodate the driver or passenger, whose status changes from that of a mechanically moved body to a moving subject?
This session investigates the drive-in not so much as a building type (as Kenneth T. Jackson, John A. Jakle and Keith A. Sculle, Richard Longstreth and others have done) but as a phenomenon. The drive-in is seen as a challenge to architecture and its tradition of tectonics as much as to the car or carriage and the promise fulfilled by its movement. In that sense, it looks for the semantic dimension of the drive-in as it can be located in relation to architectural theories. Opening the chronological scope, we are asking for in-depth case studies comprising drive-in structures from early modern to contemporary times, and thus from carriage to motor age, explicitly including drive-ins long before that term was invented. Furthermore, we are interested in accounts of the experiences of these spaces, and how the collisions between mobility and immobility are ‘solved’ in texts or theoretical concepts.
The session seeks to examine how these buildings formulated statements towards movement and flow way beyond the modernist fascination for motorized promenades architecturales and generic automobile roadside architectures. Contributions may relate to, but are not limited to, individual buildings and parts thereof such as porte-cochères, drive-in rooms in early modern palaces (such as the vestibule of the residence at Würzburg), or the more obvious drive-in diner. Individual buildings may be discussed, but also regulations for incorporating vehicle movement within architecture, relevant texts from architectural theory, and not least accounts of the experience of such spaces. The aim of this session is to discuss the productive conflicts sparked by the friction between car and carriage movement on the one hand and the static building and tectonics as their sublimate language on the other, as well as by the friction between bodily experiences of mechanical and human movement, where mobility and immobility, object and subject meet.
Sigrid de Jong, Leiden University
Erik Wegerhoff, ETH Zürich
Radical Exchanges between Latin America and Europe in the Everlasting Sixties
During the sixties and seventies, the expectations of imminent political and social turmoil stirred the architectural field. Exchanges between Europeans and Latin Americans promoted new concepts, theories and practices in the broad field of the built environment, fostering transnational and interdisciplinary approaches. We know a lot about the transatlantic interactions during the “first machine age”; however, only a few monographic approaches refer to the fertile field of these joint experiences after the crisis of traditional conceptions of architecture. Much remains to be revealed and problematize about how these interchanges proposed new ways of conceiving the profession and a theoretic debate that historiography can reveal in its actuality.
Key examples can be mentioned: the UIA congresses in Havana (1964), Buenos Aires (1969) and Madrid (1974); the VIEXPO in Santiago de Chile (1972); the Triennale di Milano on free time (1964); the stays of students and professors on both sides of the ocean (Yona Friedman, Moshe Safdie and Jap Bakema in Buenos Aires, Aldo van Eyck in Santiago, Enrique Ciriani in Paris, Mario Soto in A Coruña); the experiences opened by the new social agenda for young practitioners (Vittorio Garatti and Roberto Gottardi in Havana, John Turner in Peru).
In these receptive scenarios, ideas about the great number, the big dimension, the right to the city, the economic and social “development”, the swift of the attention from the building to the landscape and the territory, were proposed. They enabled experimental practices, a particular relationship with art and the reconsideration of the architect as an agent for social practice. They opened alternatives to a polar world, particularly between Latin America and Eastern Europe, as well as forms of political and economic solidarity around urban issues that put traditional forms of discipline and profession at stake.
The session expects contributions on the scenarios, opportunities and scope of:
‐the debates that expanded the professional field within international congresses and conferences;
‐the crossed stays of architects, students and professors in both, intellectual centers and urban reality, where new alternatives for the profession under revolutionary strain were recognized;
‐design experimentations to transform social reality in exhibitions or international competitions;
‐social, urban and technological approaches promoted by the agency of international organizations or within the framework of international political solidarity programs.
Horacio Torrent, Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile
Ana Maria Rigotti, Universidad Nacional de Rosario
Hotels in the Global South and the Architectures of Contact Zones
Within urban societies, certain spaces facilitate the exchange of ideas, foster debate and the formation of discourse, and encourage the construction of personal and professional networks across many borders; their architectural forms and materialities often speak to their openness. This session will focus on a somewhat overlooked typology in this regard: the hotel—and, in particular, the hotel in the so-called Global South. While hotels have been studied in terms of soft power and Americanization (Wharton, 2001), and their political significance has recently begun to be assessed (Craggs, 2012, Elshahed 2016), analyses of their social and cultural functions as well as their often ambivalent status as urban and architectural icons seem to be contained in the realm of novels and travel writing.
This session proposes that hotels played a particularly important socio-spatial role in colonial/post-colonial societies of the South in the decades around independence (and beyond). They were meeting places, exhibition spaces, spaces for consumption and venues for music performances. Their terraces played host to diverse encounters between different and sometimes conflicting groups of people, who could talk over a beer or coffee in the shade of a tree or umbrella. Beyond providing bedrooms, hotels were key spaces of sociability for the local people and visitors alike. Recounting his experiences in newly independent Tanzania, Ryszard Kapuscinski described the New Africa Hotel, where beyond others “the fugitives, refugees, and emigrants from various parts of the continent” met (Kapuscinski, 2001: 97). In Bombay (now Mumbai), the Taj Mahal Hotel played a similar role. In contrast with the New Africa Hotel, it was not built by the colonial power, but by a local industrialist. Its lobbies and hallways provided exhibition space, while its elegant tea rooms and restaurants were popular with the local elites.
Building on this theme, this session invites proposals that explore hotels as places of interaction, forums of discussions and ex- or inclusive spaces: contact zones. We are interested in the ways the hotels’ architectures facilitate these entanglements. Moreover, the session addresses questions such as: In what ways did hotels contribute to the formation of urban societies? How did local populations use their spaces? How did shifts in architectural styles and building practices affect this? Was the location of the hotel within the city significant? Contributions that investigate hotels in relation to exile and migration are particularly welcome.
Burcu Dogramaci, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität of Munich
Empires of Heritage: World Monuments before UNESCO
Our present model of “world heritage” owes much of its genealogy to the geopolitics of Empire. This hypothesis aims to expand prevailing narratives, which track the rise of “world heritage” programs starting with the creation of UNESCO after WWII and the elevation of monument preservation to international law (Allais 2018). In the century leading up to these events, however, state and non-state actors traveled throughout colonial territories with the self-ordained mission to study, document, and restore precolonial cultural sites, which often became “historic monuments” as part of an imposed scheme of “cultural heritage as civilizing mission” (Falser 2015).
These iconic monuments did not remain in situ. They traveled to imperial metropoles in the form of fragments, facsimiles, plaster casts, drawings, and photographs, facilitating their further mobility and thus expanding their reception as icons of “civilization.” Iconicity’s affordance for circulation was hardly unique to the Age of Empire, however. Many of these structures were sites of age-old religious worship and transregional pilgrimage beyond political boundaries (e.g., Angkor Wat in Cambodia), but underwent a secular turn and taxonomic shift within networks of colonial exploitation—from the pages of scholarly journals, to the halls of museums, to performative spectacles at World’s Fairs. Such phenomena initiated the modern “world heritage imaginary” as a regime of monument worship with its own systems of secular governance between the “original” sites and their multi-sited substitutes.
In this session, we aim to cultivate genealogies of “world heritage” during the height of Empire, ca. 1870-1940, even if projects before this core period offer crucial points of reference. We seek contributions that explore how disciplinary expertise was developed and deployed—long before the UNESCO heritage-scape—to identify and (re)build historic structures as “historic monuments” beyond the boundaries of the modern European nation state. Key research questions emerge: What were the criteria for classifying heritage sites and to what extent were their pre-existing cultural and religious meanings appropriated into secular forms of iconicity? What role did indigenous knowledge and labor play in the circulation of monuments within and beyond empires? How did juridical frameworks develop alongside practices of cross-regional monument preservation? How do we situate the violence of colonial expansion within aspirations toward “global community” and the idealism of early internationalist programs (Crinson 2017)? Papers should focus on the material and discursive practices of “world heritage” or “heritage of humanity” and their far-reaching implications among disparate communities, polities, and economies.
Michael Falser, Heidelberg University
David Sadighian, Harvard University
European Welfare Landscapes: Histories and Futures
When the large-scale architectural and planning efforts of the European welfare states were set in motion in the post-war period, easy access to high-quality green landscapes was considered as important as other pillars of welfare, such as health, education, and retirement benefits. The welfare states supported massive building initiatives that introduced a radically new model of urbanity, characterized by an abundance of green and open spaces including public parks, recreational topographies, and shared spaces on housing estates.These green open spaces, which are a constitutive part of today’s urbanized areas, were designed to foster social welfare and individual well-being for all citizens: hence, we call them welfare landscapes.
Today, the architecture and planning of the European welfare states is being re-evaluated, and is undergoing renovation projects to address physical decay, changing users and uses, new urban ideals, the need for climate adaptation, and other issues. Moreover, in light of changing welfare politics, the relevance of welfare landscapes as living heritage, their underlying ideologies and intended contributions to citizens’ lives, and the sustainability of their design are all increasingly contested. The complexly interlinked climatic, economic, political and social crises currently facing modern industrial culture’s products and workings (Latour, 2018), thus also concern the welfare landscapes. This presents us with a paradox: how can some of the European welfare states’ most optimistic projections for the sharing of space, resources and values simultaneously embody some of modern society’s most fraught concepts – including resource exploitation, gigantism, gender, the body and biopolitics, social engineering, nationalism, and ideas of human exceptionalism?
While the architecture and planning of European welfare states is an emerging theme in architectural-historical research, it has not yet been sufficiently understood from a landscape perspective. This session invites papers that explore specific histories of welfare landscapes across Europe, and that examine their current and future role, value and contestation. We also encourage papers that discuss what happens if we regard the post-war period not as an era of optimism about welfare and the common, but as a moment when the concept of welfare itself snapped into focus as a place of contestation and debate (as proposed by Kjældgaard, 2018). How was this contestation articulated and negotiated in cities and their designed landscapes? Did it consolidate welfare as a security instrument, a ballast against the volatility of culture following the Second World War’s crisis of humanism?
Henriette Steiner, University of Copenhagen
Southern Exchanges: Relocating Architectural Knowledge Production
The planning of Abuja, the new capital of Nigeria, in the late 1970s, saw the collaboration of architects and planners of multiple nationalities, traversing east-west and north-south divides. Alongside the US and East German project leaders, the international committee included M. N. Sharma, Chief Architect of Chandigarh, India, and Clement G. Kahama, who served a similar role in the planning of Dodoma, the new capital of Tanzania. Coming out of the “interstices of [colonial] power structures” (Stoler and Cooper 1997), Sharma and Kahama, both architects from the so-called “Global South,” were engaged as advisors of international standing. They represent a historical and conceptual shift in the figuring of the “global expert,” and the knowledge that s/he holds in an uneven and racialized globality. From passive “native informants,” southern architects and planners became active agents of knowledge production with global applicability.
This panel calls for contributions that position the production of architectural and urban planning knowledge as part of south-south exchanges throughout the twentieth century. We seek to highlight the role of southern actors in forming colonial and postcolonial architectural networks of expertise, and conversely, the role of northern development and educational institutions in facilitating southern architects’ mobility and exchange. The panel will contribute to historicizing and problematizing the South as a geographical, political, economic and epistemological category, while addressing questions such as: How did the North partake in south-south knowledge exchange? And how did southern knowledge feed-back to hegemonic centers, or contribute to the formation of new centers that challenge northern hegemony? The role of northern “experts” who identified themselves as having “southern” or “othered” experience may also be explored. By underscoring southern formations of disciplinary knowledge, we hope to shed some new light on key concepts associated with architecture of the South such as the vernacular, climate, the informal, and the urban-countryside binary.
While we will focus primarily on the established (and problematic) category of the “Global South”, we welcome presentations that explore knowledge production in other “souths” (such as the American south), or problematize hierarchical differentiations of actors from various “souths” in architectural discourse (e.g. between Latin America, Africa, Central, South and Southeast Asia) or non-western locales, such as the Middle East, China, and Japan, that do not easily fit these binary categories.
Ayala Levin, Northwestern University
Rachel Lee, LMU Munich
Territories of incarceration: The project of modern carceral institutions as an act of rural colonisation
It can be argued that the modern prison is the locus where architecture tested its own entry into modernity. Through two fundamental archetypal diagrams – Carlo Fontana’s House of Correction in Rome (1704) and the Bentham brothers’s Penitentiary Panopticon (circa 1790) – the prison emerged as the paradigm of architecture’s ambition at shaping and directing human behaviour and relationships, which ultimately found synthesis in the modern model prison of Pentonville (London, 1840).
Scholarship on the architecture of incarceration has mostly focused its attention on urban compact prisons, of which Pentonville stands as the prototype. Robin Evans’s seminal study of modern reformism in British prisons (The Fabrication of Virtue, 1982) provided a detailed enquiry into the empowerment that architecture received by addressing the project of detention. Evans’ work sits alongside its contemporary and more celebrated companion, namely Michel Foucault’s Surveiller et punir (1975). Interestingly, the key to understand the argument of the two books seems to lay not as much in the analysis of detention inside urban compact prisons, but in what the two authors took as the ending point of their historical narratives: the opening of the Colonie Agricole at Mettray in France, which happened almost concomitantly to that of Pentonville, showing how the architectural codification of the carceral happened as much in the urban walled-prison as in a less restrictive parallel institution where the rational precision proper of the design of a prison was loosened (hence Foucault’s definition of ‘prisons boiteuse’ – limping prisons). The colony of Mettray served as the archetype for this new para-carceral type (the penal colony) that balanced its apparent uncertainty and benevolence by extending its scope of action towards vast territories and acting as an agent of rural colonisation that participated in the geopolitical project of the modern national states.
This session aims to collect insights into the architectural history of the modern penal colony intended as a specific declination of carceral institution that, besides the immediate role of confining, reforming, and punishing criminals, also took on an objective as an agent of territorial transformation and domestication of vast rural domains. Particular attention will be given to papers addressing the European territory and the role played by penal colonies in the processes of internal colonisation, as opposed to more usual explorations of imperial forms of colonisation. Shifting from the architectural to the territorial scale and covering a time-span from the mid-19th c. up to the WW2, contributions are sought that explore cases in which the project of penal colonies intersected with and facilitated the birth and acceptance of a new modern rural order across the European continent.
This session will be related to a monographic issue on penal colonies and the project of modern rural landscapes that is being discussed with the editors of the Journal of Architecture, for publication in 2020.
Sabrina Puddu, Royal College of Arts
Francesco Zuddas, Anglia Ruskin University
Flexibility and its Discontents: Techniques and Technologies in Twentieth Century Architectural Production
Throughout the twentieth century flexible space as an architectural quality has been widely celebrated by architects and critics of built and unrealised projects alike. Since the first usage of the term ‘flexible’ by architectural critic J. G. Wattjes to describe the possibility of a variety of spatial arrangements in Rietveld’s Schröder House, Utrecht in 1925, flexibility as a desired technical aspect of buildings and their elements continued to be pursued as one of the central tenements of functionalist design (in Forty, 2000). Flexibility in architectural programme and discourse has been equally often called in to dispute the functionalist rigidity and unreserved design authority of the architect, thus coinciding with the post-war cultural shifts and youth revolt against hierarchical social institutions, as potently demonstrated in writings by Henri Lefebvre, or projects by Cedric Price, and Constant Nieuwenhuys. Spatial flexibility credentials came to be associated with the newly-embraced potential of the user’s radical agency in everyday life, with the ultimate aim to challenge the capitalist property relations. Yet, the concept was simultaneously recuperated by the employers’ interest in the open-plan office, which promised to better motivate its workforce. Recent cultural critique identifies flexibility as a behavioural imperative which has been facilitating neoliberal economic change towards decreasing public administration since the 1970s (Boltanski and Chiapello, 1999), a Foucauldian, modern self-disciplining power that structures everything from workplace performance standards to personal attributes.
Taking into account this contradictory and abstract character of the concept of flexibility for architectural practice, and beyond the mere analysis of flexibility as a matter of architectural discourse, this session aims to deepen the understanding of uses of openendedness in the twentieth century design techniques and technologies. Indeed, Nicholas John Habraken proposed in 1961 that the architect’s role may approach that of the industrial designer, as his SAR system (a critique of mass housing uniformity) conceptually and economically separated structural elements from the flexibly-realised, user-chosen in-fill components and finishes. This session particularly welcomes paper proposals which explore through specific case studies what deeper technological, professional, and industrial implications the espousal of flexibility as culturally-conditioned value might have had. What kinds of building materials, or structural systems did the praise for flexibility in design and use require? How did the flexibility imperative affect the hierarchies and social relations among the many practitioners involved in architectural production?
Tijana Stevanovic, University College London and University for the Creative Arts
Genius Loci: The Politics of Pre-Modern Architectural Style
Frequently encountered in the historiography of pre-modern architecture is the theme of genius loci—a paradigm in which factors such as climate, local resources, and local traditions are understood as determinative for the building practices of a given region, country, or nation.
Writing on Gothic architecture is a striking case in point. The style was a pan-European phenomenon. Yet, almost from the beginning, it was interpreted in patently ethnic, regional, or national terms. Late medieval observers in northern Europe saw it as French (opus francigenum). Early modern observers in southern Europe saw it as German (maniera tedesca). And antiquarians, archaeologists, and architectural historians active during the era of the formation of modern nation states, in an effort to advance competing domestic claims to Gothic, coined a series of stylistic labels—’Perpendicular’ for England, ‘Flamboyant’ for France, ‘Sondergotik’ for Germany—that continue to be employed into the present day.
Thus have medieval architectural historians struggled to examine the buildings of smaller regions with more heterogeneous architectural traditions. Scotland—a land whose medieval edifices have been characterised as ‘dour’, ‘embattled’, and even a ‘fag-end’ — is exemplary in this regard. Smaller buildings less sympathetic to foreign fashions have typically been viewed as crude. Larger buildings more sympathetic to foreign fashions have typically been viewed as mannered, wilful, or downright bizarre (cf. Roslin Chapel). Such interpretations not only uphold a simplistic centre-versus-periphery model of historical explanation but also assume that national styles are real ontic categories.
Raising the stakes for a re-evaluation of issues of place, space, and identity is the politically febrile atmosphere in which we now live and work. Indeed, nativism draws on the idea that countries have distinctive (if not inviolable) cultures, and architecture plays a dual role in such discourse in that old buildings can be used as evidence for certain values and new buildings can be used as vehicles for certain ideologies. Consequently, this panel seeks to interrogate the relationship between architecture and regional or national identities in the pre-modern period, with an emphasis on the buildings of medieval Scotland. Possible topics for papers include:
– Definitions of nationalism
– Investigations of ‘schools’, ‘groups’, and/or ‘styles’
– Attributions of buildings to various regional or national idioms
– Explorations of social networks that supported or subverted the exchange of architectural ideas
Zachary Stewart, Texas A&M University
Lizzie Swarbrick, University of Edinburgh
Cultivating the Child Eye’s View
The way that society thinks about children has undergone paradigmatic shifts in the last century. The child has been represented in many ways: as the helpless, the innocent, the savage, the primitive, the unprejudiced, and the source of unfettered creativity, the latter being a romantic construct praising the child as the ‘creative artist’ of all sorts. In this session we ask how concepts of childhood have affected architectural education. The idea of spatial and building play for children opens the wider question of what architectural education is, if it is not merely professional training. What does the education of architects share and not share with the education of children and the kinds of adults and citizens we wish them to become through personal awareness of their built environment.
Philippe Ariès’s pioneering, yet controversial study Centuries of Childhood (1962) and the advent of postmodern and psychoanalytic approaches in academic studies in beginning of the 1970s have turned critical attention to the socio-cultural and material constructions of childhood. Toys, miniatures, games, but also environments such as playgrounds, and the architecture of schools and kindergartens have been considered as the sites where pedagogical, political, economic and aesthetic interests collided. This session not so much explores the material culture of childhood or designs made for children, but rather seeks to unravel how the concept of childhood and a set of related terms such as development, growth, child experience, plasticity, impulse and play, but also negative connotations such as infantility and childishness are woven into the fabric of post-war architecture culture. Thus we ask how did new interest in children and designing for them in the later Twentieth century affect the education of architects, and, reposition the built environment in familial and civic life.
We are particularly interested in the transfers between architectural education, learning theories and child development studies. Papers may trace design strategies often used in the postwar architectural studio (think of creative play, the innocent eye, unlearning,…) back to the educational reform theories of for instance John Dewey, Herbert Read and Jean Piaget. To illustrate this, the émigré architect Paul Ritter relied on Piaget to develop his ‘educreational’ theory in the 1960s and 70s, which circulated in reports on architectural education in Australia. Papers may show how these liaisons altered curricula and teaching techniques in professional education, but also how they rebalanced the issues of disposition and expertise in the understanding of the built environment. Here we are thinking of Kevin Lynch’s Growing up in Cities, a 1977 UNESCO project designed to involve young people in the planning and creation of their urban environment, and Colin Wards book Child in the City (1978), which focused on how children negotiate and re-articulate their everyday environment by means of play, appropriation and imagination.
Elke Couchez, The University of Queensland
John Macarthur, The University of Queensland
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