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From Sheboygan to Los Angeles: Conference Updates

I was fortunate to attend two conferences this week that traced the research topics I’ve been investigating during the last 20 years. The first was at the John Michael Kolher Arts Centre and focused on ‘Visionary Environments’ [that is, places and objects built by self-taught and ‘outsider’ artists/builders/architects] and the second was the GAHTC investigating how we might teach a Global Architectural History.
‘The Road Less Travelled’ conference/exhibition at JMKAC celebrated the centre’s 50th Anniversary and brought together many of the contributors, responders, artists and scholars associated with this extraordinary set of 17 exhibitions. It forms a radical set of artwork with equally provocative and experimental curating. I’ve previously reviewed some of their earlier displays in Raw Vision Magazine and on this blog here. Three highlights from the current set of exhibitions include the works of Dr Charles Smith, Eugene von Bruenchenhein and Stella Waitzkin.
It was an engaging line-up and full of challenges ranging from conservation, community use, cultural concerns, research methods, and lots on Pasaquan.  Prof. Jo Farb Hernandez’s documentation work in Spain really resonated and she’s gathering more material for a follow-up book. I also enjoyed the podcast/lecture on the Forevertron by Benjamin Walker and The Theory of Everything.
There was a strong connection between these two conferences – both held a desire to reexamine and question the way we think about architecture and art, both in terms of its production as well as in its dissemination and history. GAHTC is working from within the canon [with a desire to change it], whereas JMKAC perhaps doesn’t view its collection as architectural, or as something architectural historians might be concerned with.  Its collection certainly falls within the ‘architecture without architects’ bracket but not in the way that Bernard Rudofsky presented it. Perhaps the common denominator between these conferences is the visionary environment in LA built by Italian migrant Simon Rodia, and now known as Watts Towers. I paid homage to this staggering creation and highly recommend it.
JMKAC has recently become the new home for SPACES archive [previously held in California] that contains some wonderful survey drawings, model and photographic documentation of the Towers, currently on display at JMKAC.
The SPACES methodology and detailed survey work sets the standard in this area, and their collection is being digitised. In many ways GAHTC is attempting to build up an equivalent archive of teaching material. To date, there are over 200 lectures held in its repository, and the ambition is for another 200+ lectures. They are also issuing a number of grants for scholars to develop new teaching resources and material. The three plenary speakers, Philip J Ethington, Stella Nair and Greg Castillo stoked considerable debate on cultural appropriation, settlements that existed on the site now occupied by Los Angeles, and the power of mapping this data. I also enjoyed the module proposed by Alicia Imperiale with its three lectures considering various aspects of mobile architecture, (including one by TAG friend Anoo Siddiqi).
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As a factor of globalization that accompanied the modern colonial and postcolonial period, transnationalism and an emerging landscape of cosmopolitan sites offered women new proving ground outside established social, cultural, and commercial spheres of architecture and planning. In this session, we investigate the significance of transnational mobility, over an open time period, for women as architects, planners, patrons, builders, curators, historians, or other users of the built environment. Whether their movement was based on privileged access to international networks or resulted from forced migration, we find repeated instances of an engagement in debates on regionalism, the vernacular, the everyday, the folkloric, and the anonymous, as expressions in architecture and planning. Seeing these debates as deeply contingent on the subject’s position, this session seeks precision on a problem that has inhabited the fringes of architectural and planning history: the gendered connections between an extreme mobility (understood as conditioned by specific historical contexts) and a theory of the situated. Thinking with Donna Haraway—in particular, her concern with ‘situated knowledge’ as that which is informed by the subject’s position and does not attempt the abstraction of universalism—this session attempts to map mobility and gender onto one another within a set of practices and visions that focused on structuring, building, historicizing, or thinking the undesigned, the unplanned. We see this in part as stemming from the vision of a stranger, a function of vision from a periphery or a territorially interior margin. As Hilde Heynen has discussed in relation to Sybil Moholy-Nagy, the turn to architecture without architects also shifted claims upon expertise, opening the position of expert to a wider pool. This session takes the epistemological question of what knowledge is produced by transnational mobility, and attempts to move beyond the frequent challenges of the archive and historiography, to suggest certain sites of resistance to a ‘canon’ from which many women have been excluded, as well as to the various borders which define architectural expression, authors, and publics. Bringing the work of women architects and non-architects alike into conversation, we invite papers that consider understudied professional figures such as Sybil Moholy-Nagy, Jaqueline Tyrwhitt, Charlotte Perriand, Erica Mann, Jane Drew, Lina Bo Bardi, Minnette de Silva, Hannah Schreckenbach, Dorothy Hughes, Gillian Hopwood, Ursula Olsner, and Denise Scott Brown, or a variety of named and unnamed groups of women—clients, laborers, refugees—whose transnational travels affected the built environment or its history.

Co-chairs: Anooradha Iyer Siddiqi and Rachel Lee

Submissions: Please submit max. 300-word abstracts to iyersiddiqi@gmail.com or rachel.lee@gmx.net

Deadline: 30 September 2017

http://eahn2018conference.ee/

Urban Heritage Activism
Thursday 16 March – Friday 17 March, 09:00-18:00
TU Berlin, Hardenbergstr. 16-18, 10623 Berlin
Register: contact@urbannarratives.org
www.urbannarratives.org

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The two-day Urban Heritage Activism conference will focus on heritage ‘from below’–urban history as it is lived, represented and transformed by local communities in diverse geographies and cultural contexts. Speakers from grassroots movements, academic and cultural institutions will address political ramifications and power struggles related to heritage and introduce the failures and solutions of various activism projects, especially in postcolonial contexts. Contributors will debate contemporary tensions and future strategies for interventions through a roundtable discussion at the end of each day.

In addition to the stimulating conference programme, the Simulizi Mijini / Urban Narratives exhibition Juxtaposing Narratives: Dar es Salaam and Berlin will open at 8pm on Friday 17 March with a cooking performance, live music and a DJ. Walking tours and film screenings will round off the programme of events.

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Speakers and moderators: Erica Abreu, Jully Acuna, Yaşar Adanali, Awami Art Collective, Comfort Badaru, Diane Barbé, Shraddha Bhatawadekar, Vittoria Capresi, Jerome Chou , Rebecca Corey, Gabi Dolff-Bonekämper, Matthias Einhoff, Anne-Katrin Fenk, Zinovia Foka, Susanne Förster, Benjamin Häger, Maj Horn, Anooradha Iyer Siddiqi, Sehr Jalil, Leila Javanmardi, Claudia Jürgens, Georg Krajewsky, Rachel Lee, Farah Makki, Sarita Mamseri, Srdjan Mandić, Mansion, Avehi Menon, Philipp Misselwitz, Monika Motylinska, Rishika Mukhopadhyay, Laura Murray, Marcelo Murta, Naira Mushtaq, Cord Pagenstecher, Luise Rellensmann, Ana Luisa Ribeiro, Juliane Richter, Gözde Şarlak, Jona Schwerer, Annika Seifert, Gülsah Stapel, Samaila Suleiman and Mike Terry

Artists: Rehema Chachage, Cloud Chatanda, Tellervo Kalleinen and Oliver Kochta-Kalleinen, KUNSTrePUBLIK and Jan van Esch, Umesh Maddanahalli, Michelle Monareng, Patrick Mudekereza, Paul Ndunguru, Nadin Reschke, and Alex Römer

Call for Sessions: 6th International Congress on Construction History

The 6th International Congress on Construction History (6ICCH) will be organised in Brussels, from July 9 to July 13, 2018. For the first time, thematic sessions as well as the usual open sessions will be organised. Therefore, a two-step procedure is adopted: the call for thematic sessions is launched first, followed by the general call for abstracts. The general call for abstracts will invite contributions for the special thematic sessions as well
as contributions dealing with a broad range of construction history topics (typology, the action of building, knowledge transfer, process and actors, materials, services, etc.). With this combination, the organisers aim at both a broad and an in-depth assessment of new research in construction history. The present call invites prospective session chairs to suggest topics for the thematic sessions. Their aim is to highlight explicitly the latest themes, approaches and directions in construction history research, and to foster
transnational and interdisciplinary collaboration and discussion on burning issues. Proposals should include a description of the theme (max. 400 words), a motivation of the relevance of the theme (max. 400 words) and a CV of the applicant chair demonstrating his/her relevant expertise. The organising committee will select up to 12 thematic sessions, limited to one per applicant.
Chairs of the thematic sessions are expected to be present at the 6ICCH and give a short introduction to their session. They are, in collaboration with the scientific committee, responsible for the selection process of the submitted abstracts and for the editing process of the submitted papers. For each session 4 to 5 papers will be selected. No more than one paper of the chair’s research team can be selected. The scientific committee reserves for itself the right to redirect papers towards other thematic or open sessions.

Proposals should be sent to info@6icch.org by April 1 2017. Session chairs will be informed about the selection of their proposal by the organising committee by May 1 2017.

important deadlines
Call for sessions: March 1, 2017
Submit sessions: April 1, 2017
Call for abstracts: May 1, 2017
Submit abstracts: June 15, 2017
Submit papers: December 1, 2017

organising committee
KU Leuven (Krista De Jonge)
Universiteit Antwerpen (Michael de Bouw)
Université Catholique de Louvain (Patricia Radelet-de Grave, Denis Zastavni)
Université Libre de Bruxelles (Rika Devos, Bernard Espion)
Vrije Universiteit Brussel (Inge Bertels, Stephanie Van de Voorde, Ine Wouters)

See the PDF here for more info: 6icch-2018-call-for-sessions

Congratulations to Roy Khatchadourian, University of Liverpool [M.Arch 2016], on winning the 2016 RIBA Dissertation Medal for his thesis, A Juxtaposition of Ideological Expressions: Evaluating the urban transformations of Yerevan (Armenia) during 1915-2015. 

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Roy Khatchadourian being awarded the Medal by Alan Jones and RIBA President Jane Duncan

The dissertation discusses the contribution of Armenian-Russian architect Alexander Tamanyan (1878 – 1936) and his substantial work in Yerevan during the 1920s. The research investigates his attempts to create a ‘National architectural style’ and rejuvenate the country.

Following the Soviet occupation in 1920, a recently formed independent state was forcefully ended. However, its nationalistic ambitions were not completely inactive throughout the foreign rule; Tamanyan’s 1924 masterplan for the city was deeply rooted within the nationalistic rhetoric. Over time, it was widely used as an emblem to the city, presumably due to its rich political allegories and nationalistic ‘drive’. Through it, efforts were made to overcome a difficult past, by erasing specific histories from the city and replacing them by the enhancement of other selected memories.

After being forgotten for some years, Tamanyan’s efforts were revived after Armenia broke free from the Soviet Union. This was made evident in large developments within central Yerevan, acting as the ‘completion’ of Tamanyan’s vision. The Armenian diaspora, particularly from Russia and USA played an important role in these works, importing with them ideologies from abroad. Therefore, this dissertation discusses 3 phases within the recent urban transformations of Yerevan: Pre-soviet (1915-1920), Soviet (1920-1991) and Post-Soviet (1991-2015).

Architects Journal article with further details.

Call for Papers Architecture & Culture: Behind the Scenes: Anonymity and the Hidden Mechanisms of Design and Architecture

Vol. 6, Issue no. 1, March 2018

Jessica Kelly, Editor.

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Rudolph, Paul, Architect. [Paul Rudolph’s architectural office in Manhattan. Man stepping across file cabinet tops among elevated drafting stations]. [Ca, 1965] Image. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/2010649573. (Accessed May 23, 2016.)

We tend to think about architects and designers as ’names’, creative individuals who have become branded personalities, bringing with them a particular look or attitude.  Yet as long ago as 1937, the journalist J.M. Richards declared that the personalities of architects and designers should become ‘culturally irrelevant’. Richards’ perspective emphasized the role of collective processes and anonymity in design and architecture. This Issue of Architecture and Culture seeks to look beyond the named individual or brand and explore the invisible, the overlooked and the ignored in design and architectural practice.

Focusing on the people, places and practices that are outside of or peripheral to conventional discussions, we ask in what ways personality remains relevant in design and architecture. This could include questioning the role of biography and autobiography in design discourses, exploring collaborative practices and globalised perspectives. The aim is not to propose new centres or canons but instead to de-centre discussions; to embrace the complexity and multiplicity of characters and narratives in design practice and history.

Coupled with this issue of personality, is the theme of ‘hidden mechanisms’ in design and architectural practice. Responding to Igea Troiani and Suzanne Ewing’s exploration of the ‘Inter, Multi and Trans-Disciplinary’ character of design practice, this Issue will consider the complex fields of activities involved in design and architecture. Emphasizing process rather than products or outputs, contributions might consider the role of administration, documentation, mediation and commentary in design practice. It will focus on the theme of networks (formal and informal, professional and personal) and will interrogate themes such as authorship, collaboration, creativity and the definitions of ‘ordinary’ in terms of practice, people and style.

Call for papers for this issue

We seek contributions from a wide range of practices and disciplines to interrogate the hidden, the intangible and the anonymous in design and architecture. We welcome contributions that consider alternative forms to the conventional academic essay, including the visual and verbal.

Contributions might address, but are not limited to, the following themes:

–    Design and anonymity in various contexts such as production, patent and copyright
–    Collective Practices and collaborative dynamics: Design teams, creativity and authorship
–    Networks – public and private, personal and professional
–    Non-masculinist/Feminist perspectives on design production
–    Spaces of production
–    Non-expert producers
–    Inter-disciplinary practices
–    Alternative modes of discourse: orality, non-verbal communication
–    Global perspectives on design practices and discourses

Contributions can range from short observations or manifestos, creative pieces, or visual essays, to longer academic articles. Architecture and Culture is published in both on-line and hard-copy formats: there is capacity to host on-line contributions that operate in a different way to paper-based work.

Production schedule

Response: 1 January 2017
Editors selection: February 2017
Peer Reviewing: March-June 2017
Authors Revisions: July-September 2017
Editorial checking: October-November 2017
Copy to publisher: 1 December 2017
Issue publication: March 2018

For author instructions, please go to ‘Instructions for Authors

Upload submissions at: http://www.editorialmanager.com/archcult/
Or via ‘submit online’ at http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/rfac

If you have any queries or require further information, please contact:
Jessica Kelly: ‪jkelly1@ucreative.ac.uk‬‬‬‪‬‬‬

Oxford University Press will publish ‘Architecture and Urbanism in the British Empire’ on 7th October 2016. Below is a brief synopsis from the publishers website.

9780198713326

Throughout today’s postcolonial world, buildings, monuments, parks, streets, avenues, entire cities even, remain as witness to Britain’s once impressive if troubled imperial past. These structures are a conspicuous and near inescapable reminder of that past, and therefore, the built heritage of Britain’s former colonial empire is a fundamental part of how we negotiate our postcolonial identities, often lying at the heart of social tension and debate over how that identity is best represented.

This volume provides an overview of the architectural and urban transformations that took place across the British Empire between the seventeenth and mid-twentieth centuries. Although much research has been carried out on architecture and urban planning in Britain’s empire in recent decades, no single, comprehensive reference source exists. The essays compiled here remedy this deficiency. With its extensive chronological and regional coverage by leading scholars in the field, this volume will quickly become a seminal text for those who study, teach, and research the relationship between empire and the built environment in the British context. It provides an up-to-date account of past and current historiographical approaches toward the study of British imperial and colonial architecture and urbanism, and will prove equally useful to those who study architecture and urbanism in other European imperial and transnational contexts.

The volume is divided in two main sections. The first section deals with overarching thematic issues, including building typologies, major genres and periods of activity, networks of expertise and the transmission of ideas, the intersection between planning and politics, as well as the architectural impact of empire on Britain itself. The second section builds on the first by discussing these themes in relation to specific geographical regions, teasing out the variations and continuities observable in context, both practical and theoretical.

Table of Contents:

Introduction
Architecture, Urbanism, and British Imperial Studies, G. A. Bremner
PART I: Themes in British Imperial and Colonial Architecture and Urbanism
1: Beginnings: Early Colonial Architecture, Daniel Maudlin
2: Urbanism and Master Planning: Configuring the Colonial City, Robert Home and Anthony D. King
3: Stones of Empire: Monuments, Memorials, and Manifest Authority, G. A. Bremner
4: The Metropolis: Imperial Buildings and Landscapes in Britain, G. A. Bremner
5: Propagating Ideas and Institutions: Religious and Educational Architecture, G. A. Bremner and Louis P. Nelson
6: Imperial Modernism, Mark Crinson
Part II Regional Continuity, Divergence, and Variation in the British World
7: British North America and the West Indies, Harold Kalman and Louis P. Nelson
8: South and Southeast Asia, Preeti Chopra
9: The Australian Colonies, Stuart King and Julie Willis
10: New Zealand and the Pacific, Ian Lochhead and Paul Walker
11: Sub-Saharan Africa, Iain Jackson and Ola Uduku
12: Egypt and Mandatory Palestine and Iraq, Samuel D. Albert

Further details here: https://global.oup.com/academic/product/architecture-and-urbanism-in-the-british-empire-9780198713326?cc=ro&lang=en&#