European Architectural
History Network
Tallinn 2018

Call for Papers

Submission deadline:
September 30, 2017

Abstracts are invited for the fifth European Architectural History Network International Meeting, in Tallinn, June 2018. Please submit your abstract by 30 September 2017 to one of the sessions and round tables listed below. Abstracts of no more than 300 words should be submitted straight to the session convenor(s). Include your name, affiliation, title of paper or position, a C.V. of no more than five pages, home and work addresses, e-mail addresses and telephone numbers.

Sessions will consist of either five papers or of four papers and a respondent with time for questions and dialogue at the end. Each paper should take no more than 20 minutes to present. Abstracts for session presentations should define the subject and summarize the argument to be made in the presented paper. The content of that paper should be the product of well-documented original research that is primarily analytical and interpretive rather than descriptive.

Round tables will have no more than six participants plus chairs and an extended time for dialogue, debate and discussion among participants and their public. Each discussant will have 10 minutes to present a position. Abstracts for round tables should summarize the position to be taken.

Papers may not have been previously published, nor presented in public. Only one submission per author will be accepted. All abstracts will be held in confidence during the selection process.

Session and roundtable chairs will notify all persons submitting abstracts of the acceptance or rejection of their proposals and comment upon accepted ones no later than 31 October 2017. Authors of accepted paper proposals must submit the complete text of their papers to their chairs by 15 February 2018. Chairs may suggest editorial revisions to a paper or position in order to make it satisfy session or round table guidelines and will return it with comments to the speaker by 15 March 2018. Chairs reserve the right to withhold a paper or discussion position from the program if the speaker has refused to comply with these guidelines. It is the responsibility of the chair(s) to inform speakers of these guidelines, as well as of the general expectations for both a session and participation in this meeting. Each speaker is expected to fund his or her own registration, travel and expenses to Tallinn, Estonia.

Additional Guidelines for Paper Sessions:

No paper may have more than two authors. Final presented papers should be no more than 2500 words, although texts of up to 4000 words, including notes, may be included in the proceedings (submission to the proceedings is optional).

Additional Guidelines for Roundtables:

Initial position statements should be no more than 1250 words. Position statements of up to 2500 words including notes will be accepted for the proceedings (submission to the proceedings is optional).


Submissions of paper proposals and roundtable discussions to session chairs:

30 September 2017

Communication by session chairs of acceptance or rejection and comments on accepted abstracts:

31 October 2017

Submission of Final Edited Abstracts to Session and Conference Chairs:

30 November 2017

Submission of Complete Draft of Paper or Position Statement to Session Chairs:

15 February 2018

Comments on Papers and Position Statements to be Returned by Session Chairs:

15 March 2018

Submission of Final Paper or Position Statement to Chair and, if to be included in Conference Proceeding, to Conference Chair:

1 April 2018



The Architectures of Creativity

Richard J. Williams,
University of Edinburgh,
Edinburgh College of Art,

Edward Hollis,
University of Edinburgh,
Edinburgh College of Art,

Since the early 2000s, the concept of ‘creativity’ has had immense political traction in the most developed parts of the world, and it has led to the production of new forms of architectural space: creative hubs, incubators, live/work spaces, ‘labs’, and office buildings that seem to be entirely devoted to play.

The forms of these spaces are perhaps best developed in the workspaces for the technology sector, whether it is for software and social media oriented corporations such as Google, or those more concerned with hardware, like Apple: all have invested publicly in ‘creative’ architecture. The news media, and increasingly, education are also major clients. But so far the architectures and interiors of creativity exist in a curious condition: widespread, and well-known, they been produced in a largely unreflective way, with remarkably little sense of their own history.

This session tackles precisely the question of history. It asks when, and where, and how did ‘creativity’ become a concern in architecture? What architectural forms and typologies have been said to represent creativity over the years? What have been the lived experiences of these architectures of creativity? How have such architectures been represented in the arts, particularly in film and television? What have architects had to say about creativity? And how have anti-architectural discourses figured in the understanding of architecture and creativity? (for example, around MIT’s Building 20, the legendary precursor to so much ‘creative’ space).

The architectures of creativity take many forms. Examples might include the cabinets, bottege and studioli that appear repeatedly in Renaissance painting; art school design from the nineteenth century to the present day; the Bauhaus and other modernist experiments in designing creative space; the re-use of industrial buildings for creative purposes; the new designs for creativity commissioned by Apple and other technology companies. We need to reference the place of interior design too, for example the manifestoes for the creative office produced by design agencies like Herman Miller. The session might also productively address the discourses of creativity in the international architectural journals.

While the session asks that presenters address as precisely as possible the concept of creativity, it leaves deliberately undefined the historical and geographical limits, in order to allow transhistorical and transcultural comparisons. It actively welcomes submissions that broaden our understanding of creativity and architecture’s place within it. Above all, it aims to establish through the study of architecture and design, a sense of creativity’s long history, largely missing from contemporary discourses on the subject.

The Architecture of the Orient Before Orientalism

Anne-Françoise Morel,
KULeuven Faculty / Department of Architecture,

This session aims at a new understanding of the visualisation and conceptualisation of the architecture of the “Orient” and its introduction in architectural theory and practice in the late 17th and 18th century, before the era that architectural historiography traditionally associates with “Orientalism”. The aim is to improve understanding of how “Eastern” architecture was perceived, historicized and conceptualized before a more generalized (if always problematic) notion of “oriental” architecture emerged.

We are interested in the different channels through which knowledge of “Eastern” architecture was obtained, communicated and conceptualized (travelogues, diaries, engravings). From the early 18th century onwards the Grand Tour became accessible to an ever larger group of travellers. Its circuit expanded beyond the Mediterranean, opening up a new world of architectural forms. This expansion coincided with a renewed critical scrutiny of the Greco-Roman canon, and the introduction of new aesthetic notions such as “taste”.

This session investigates if, how and why the Early Modern imagination of the “Orient” transformed into an architectural imagery resonating with contemporary architectural debates and stimulated the emergence of “Orientalism”. Attention is due to the ways in which 18th-century sources associated “Eastern” architecture with moral connotations, and construed its relation with European architecture: between assimilation into a general architectural history (emerging notions of the oriental origins of the Gothic) and the definition of a distinct “otherness” (i.e. non-Western, non-classical, non-Christian) of “eastern” architecture.

    Questions we wish to raise include:
  • In what terms were the non-classical architectural forms described, what referents were used?
  • How did the acquaintance with “Eastern” architecture affect the interpretation of the Greco-Roman canon?
  • How was “Oriental” architecture defined, characterized or categorized?
  • How did new knowledge of “Eastern” architecture recast deeply engrained Early Modern notions of the “Orient” as the site of architectural opulence, wonder, vanity and idolatry?
  • Where and how did new notions of oriental architecture emerge, and how were they communicated?
  • What was the role of descriptions by travellers?
  • How did travelogues filter moral, religious and political connotations?
  • How were their architectural descriptions mediated in design?
  • Did the description of “Eastern” architecture coincide with a renewed architectural (archaeological) attention for medieval (i.e. Gothic) architecture?
  • What was the role of the emerging bourgeois class in making a supposedly “barbaric” style socially acceptable?
  • Which buildings and architects adopted or pioneered forms taken from “Oriental” architecture before the emergence of “Orientalism”?

The Architecture of the Tasman World, 1788-1850

Alex Bremner,
University of Edinburgh,

Andrew Leach,
University of Sydney,

The nineteenth-century architectural history of what Philippa Mein Smith has called the “Tasman world” has long been shaped by the nationalist historiographies of Australia and New Zealand. Developments in the region’s colonial architecture from the 1780s onwards have thus fed narratives of national foundations, problematic and otherwise. This session calls for papers to work against that grain by addressing the architecture and infrastructure of those colonial industries operating across the early colonies of New South Wales, Van Diemen’s Land and New Zealand and connecting that “world” to the economies of the British Empire, the “Anglosphere”, and architectural geographies defined by trade. We invite papers that consider the architecture of the Tasman world from the 1780s to the 1840s in its historical circumstances, exploring architecture’s different registers (from work definitively cast as Architecture to the “grey” architecture of industries, transhipping and colonial infrastructure) around and across the Tasman Sea as realised in relation to such industrial activities as agriculture, whaling and sealing, banking, timber getting and religion. Papers in this session will contribute to a post-nationalist architectural history of the Tasman region that figures the place of this region in the nineteenth-century British world and beyond.

Architecture's Return to Surrealism

Wouter Van Acker,
Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB),

Stefaan Vervoort,
Ghent University,

In 1978, coinciding with the exhibition “Dada and Surrealism Reviewed” in the Hayward Gallery, Dalibor Veseley edited a double issue of Architectural Design on surrealism and architecture. The issue mined manifold connections between modernist architecture and surrealism, and it marked a penchant for surrealism among postmodern architects. It included, among others, essays by Rem Koolhaas and Bernard Tschumi referencing key ideas of Salvador Dali and the playwright and surrealist Antonin Artaud, respectively. In hindsight, such links seem ubiquitous in postmodern architecture. John Hejduk’s Masques call upon a self-proclaimed “medieval surrealism”; Aldo Rossi’s images are indebted to the metaphysical paintings of Giorgio de Chirico; designs by Oswald Mathias Ungers include René Magritte’s bowler man and doll-in-doll motif; and Peter Eisenman’s work deals with psychoanalysis, automatism and the links between perception and representation.

Surprisingly, this reuptake of surrealism in 1970s and ‘80s architecture has seen scant attention in the historiography. While most essays in Surrealism and Architecture (2005), edited by Thomas Mical, examine how surrealist thought, critiques and techniques affected architectural practices of the modernist avant-garde, Neil Spiller’s Architecture and Surrealism (2016) maps out routes of congruence between surrealist thought and the contemporary, ‘surreal worlds’ drawn up by advanced digital fabrication techniques and computer visualization. Still, surrealist tendencies in postmodern architecture warrant an inspection of their own, which accounts for the secondary nature of these tendencies with regard to modernist interplays of surrealism and architecture. As Michael Hays notes in Architecture’s Desire (2010), many of the architects above do not simply replay modernism, but they home in on its limits through an extreme reflexivity and a deep understanding of its forms, references and ideologies. Yet, what does such secondariness or lateness imply for the referential framework of surrealism in these works?

This session aims to explore how the reanimation of surrealism in architecture can be interpreted historically at this tangled, asynchronous juncture of the modern and the postmodern. It sets forth to investigate how surrealist strategies, both visual (e.g. collage, analogy, scalar play) and discursive (e.g. Jungian, Freudian or Lacanian), allowed formulating a critical project for architecture in reaction to a neoliberal economy that produces its own dreams, needs and desires. We call for contributions that explore this topic through case studies or thematic papers, focusing on the work produced by late avant-garde architects active in the 1970s and ‘80s.

Roundtable: Beyond Instrumentality: Environmental Histories of Architecture

Daniel A. Barber,
University of Pennsylvania,

Sophie Hochhäusl,
Boston University,

Against the backdrop of contemporary environmental challenges, Anthropocene debates have prompted interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary forms of scholarly inquiry, giving rise to the environmental humanities. Insights from this capacious field have informed architectural scholarship methodologically, thematically, and discursively, and have encouraged understanding the past and envisioning environmental futures that exceed the familiar trope of the technological fix.

Architectural history has produced fruitful modes of inquiry that are specific to the historical and theoretical study of the built environment. Scholarship has focused on, for example, material and immaterial resource histories and landscapes of extraction (Di Palma, Ferng, Massey, TenHoor); forms of media generated by scientific disciplinary and institutional formations in biology, geography, climatology, and anthropology (Cheng, Haney, Barber); and their ebeddedness in colonial, imperial, and capitalist apparatuses of power (Jiat-Hwee Chang & Anthony, King, Cupers, Pyla, Scott). Scholars have also engaged how architecture’s own modes of production – from its rootedness in the history of art to the production of drawings, models, and computer renderings – have held ramification for environmental thought particularly in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries (Coen, Narath, Lystra). Finally, architectural historians have gestured at the relationship between the history of environmental ideas in spatial disciplines and the contemporary challenges we face today (Graham et all., Martin, Sickells).

In this roundtable, we aim to discuss the methodological challenges faced by the environmental history of architecture. We seek contributions that focus on methodological developments in architectural history that are sensitive to contemporary environmental pressures, and which foster new directions and potentials for research in the field. In keeping with the interdisciplinary nature of this inquiry, we are interested in proposals that implement and rethink concepts in Science and Technology Studies and Environmental History and/or introduce them to architectural history. Moreover, we are interested in proposals that engage previous revisionist impulses, in particular relative to post-colonial and gender studies. We equally welcome proposals that re-interrogate architectural history’s own disciplinary interest in formal and aesthetic analysis. We are particularly interested in architectural history’s use of drawings, images, and multiple media as forms of conveying environmental knowledge. Finally, we are also interested in methodological approaches that examine the political histories of environment in architecture that have been engaged in both enclosing and opening up spaces of engagement for activists, experts, and citizens.

Building Knowledge. Locating Architecture in Early Modern Erudite Writing

Freek Schmidt,
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam,

Martijn van Beek,
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam,

In the early modern age architecture surfaced in many ways and with different intentions and meanings in the written work of eminent scholars and erudite thinkers from various backgrounds. Although individual cases have been investigated, the attention devoted to architecture in learned writing and its position within the world of knowing is fragmented and incidental. This session aims to bring together contributions on comprehensive writings on architecture that were often produced in early modern centres of learning, including convents of religious orders, universities and princely courts and their libraries and academies. These texts were often part of extensive ‘scientific’ interdisciplinary literary oeuvres, where knowledge was collected and presented in extensive anthologies and repositories. Erudite individuals assembled knowledge related to architecture from multiple branches of scholarly interest, among which for example physics, astronomy and theology, stimulated by an often independent spirit of enquiry, and combined them in extensive anthologies. These repositories of architectural thought demonstrate a thorough understanding of architecture and testify to its prolonged, concentrated study. These collections of texts did not always evolve from manuscript to printed volume and maybe were not intended to be published. The focus on architecture that appeared in many of these texts could be practical, produced to provide models for building, but was often contemplative, or functioned as a model for thinking. Specific centres of early modern thought and erudition, seem to have provided particular impetus to this thinking about architecture.

This session focuses on the treatment and appearance of architecture in these writings. How was architecture addressed in these repositories? We are particularly interested in writings, manuscripts and anthologies that do not fit the Vitruvian mould or follow established types of architectural treatises, but instead, offer alternative systems of thought about architecture, its principles, its meaning, its application and effect. Which sources were used and how, and how was architecture embedded in these anthologies and repositories of knowledge? What purposes did these writings serve? We welcome contributions that cover any geographical region, that are able to improve our understanding of the scope, variety and originality of early modern architectural thought and knowledge.

Building for Prosperity: Private Developers and the Western-European Welfare State

Tim Verlaan,
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam,

Alistair Kefford,
University of Manchester,

Although the post-war renewal and expansion of Western-European cities (1950s–1980s) has been well documented, the involvement of private developers in building this ‘brave new world’ has hardly been addressed. In general, architectural and urban historians focus on either local politics or design, usually by adopting a case-study approach based on official government records and plans. Research into private enterprise in the field of architecture and urban planning has hitherto been left to a small number of real estate experts, who overly reflect on economic developments, leaving little room for considerations on the worldviews of companies and their specific architectures. The little attention private developers have received is remarkable, as these entrepreneurs were able to transform material resources into new structures of social life, hereby providing post-war urban society with the buildings it needed to prosper.

This session contends that private developers and construction companies with development branches should be more firmly embedded in the narrative of post-war architectural history for three interrelated reasons. Firstly, the expertise and financial strength of private developers proved decisive for the execution of renewal and expansion schemes in numerous Western-European cities and towns. A substantial part of the modern built environment has come into existence at the initiative of developers, or was at least constructed with their aid. Therefore, it should only be self-evident to study our environs bearing this in mind. Secondly, government bodies, independent architects and the private sector were heavily reliant on each other, forging powerful and far-reaching public-private partnerships to get building projects off the ground. By examining these, historians can shed a new light on the recent phenomena of the internationalisation, outsourcing and privatisation of urban planning efforts. Thirdly, as many private developers operated globally, they might have played an equally important role in the dissemination of ideas on architecture and urban planning as orthodox channels of knowledge transfers, such as international conferences and academic journals.

The aim of this session is to investigate international examples of private sector involvement in architecture and planning, in particular the typologies developers came up with, the architects they worked with and their international field of operation. Long-term perspectives on the involvement of private developers, covering the pre-war period as well, and reflections on their architectural sources of inspiration are encouraged.

Centralizations and Territories in the Architectural Production of the Socialist World

Richard Anderson,
University of Edinburgh,

Elke Beyer,
Technical University Berlin,

In the twentieth century, the architectural production of most state-socialist countries underwent significant processes of centralization. These were manifest in many ways: through the reorganization of architectural labour into centralized systems of design institutes; through the integration of design organizations with the construction industry and other vertical institutional structures; through the reinforcement of the capital city as a model urban and architectural project; through the centralization of architectural theory and discourse with the regulation of architectural education and the establishment of unions, academies, and journals. These and other aspects of centralization were inextricably tied to a complementary trajectory of territorialisation at a vast scale. This tendency is visible, for example, in the ambition of centralized design institutes to deliver projects to distant territories; in the reproduction of central hierarchies at regional and local scales; through the production of norms with significance across climatic zones; among others.

On the other hand, there was a highly ambivalent insistence on integrating particular national or regional traits in an effort to articulate the universalist agenda of centrally administered socialist modernization. The application of diverse architectural languages and local resonances was coupled with contested identity politics in states with a complex multicultural constitution. Over time, and by spreading over the national and transnational territories, centralized systems of architectural production and urbanism integrated and created ever more experts and institutions on the local level, sometimes generating centripetal tendencies in turn.

This session seeks to address the dynamic between the centralization of production and the expansive territories of intervention in the architecture and urbanism of state socialist countries. Among others, papers might address the following topics:

  • the relationship of the universal to the specific in the centralization of architectural production
  • trans-local and transnational undertakings of centralized institutions and the complex multilateral relationships they established
  • the dialogue and/or tension between centralized and local expertise in design, planning, and implementation
  • the formation of distinctly regional or local approaches within this framework
  • the characteristic instruments of architectural centralization such as universal norms, educational standards, serial projects;
  • the transfer and translation of projects from centre to periphery;
  • the representation of territories in the centre (and vice versa);
  • imperial dynamics in the socialist world
  • international knowledge transfer
  • national form and regionalism.

Coming Back to Haunt You: The History of Rejecting History in Architecture

Mari Hvattum,
The Oslo School of Architecture and Design,

At least since the mid nineteenth century, architects and architectural theorists have routinely rejected history. From Heinrich Hübsch’s insistence on a contemporary style to Le Corbusier’s fantasies about the tabula rasa, the idea of architecture’s absolute contemporaneity has long been something of a commonplace. And yet, history crops up in surprising ways in the midst of attempts to exorcise it. Alois Riegl, for one, while insisting that art and architecture belongs to its time, also conceded that no time could reach “aesthetic fulfilment” by its own means alone. Riegl’s argument is intriguing: The past, by virtue of its otherness, provides something that contemporary culture, with its seamless conformity to the Zeitgeist, is incapable of providing. The present, it seems, needs history to constitute itself qua contemporaneity.

The involuntary presence of history in nineteenth- and twentieth-century architecture is the topic of this session. Studying the history of history’s rejection, we invite scholars to explore the multifarious ways the past comes back to haunt any attempt to reject it. The specter takes many forms. Karl Bötticher, for instance, was one of the many nineteenth-century architects who insisted that architecture had to respond strictly to the conditions of the present. In an interesting twist, however, Bötticher included the past – its beliefs, material culture, and accumulated experience – as a constituent factor of the contemporary era, thus smuggling history back into the equation. The insistence on contemporaneity, then, comes with its own particular historicity, like the way James Joyce made Leopold Bloom’s day into a vehicle of history, or T.S. Eliot insisted on tradition as the very precondition for the modernist break with the past.

While focusing on the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the session is open to contributions from any period or place. We look for papers that study the rejection of history in architecture by means of focused scholarship and well-defined material, be it in the form of specific architectural works or textual and discursive analyses.

Comprador Networks and Regional Modernism

Lawrence Chua,
School of Architecture, Syracuse University,

The comprador classes of the 19th- and early 20th-centuries were critical agents of global capitalism. As “middle men” in the colonial enterprise, they enabled the development of imperial trade networks, negotiated the supply of labor that extracted profit from the local landscape, established new patterns of consumption and taste, and facilitated cultural as well as economic exchanges that were critical to the growth of Asian cities. In diverse treaty ports and colonial entrepôts like Batavia, Tianjin, Calcutta, and Hong Kong, compradors drew on a diverse vocabulary of intra- and trans-regional architectural forms, labor, materials, and construction techniques to build homes, offices, godowns, factories, and infrastructural networks that were legible to both European corporations and local populations. The diplomat and entrepreneur Cheong Fatt-tze, for example, deployed ironworks from the Scottish Macfarlanes factory as well as Teochew ceramic ornamentation from the southern China coast to articulate a mansion in British-colonial Penang that could be identified as the home of both a mandarin official and a modern capitalist. His neighbor, Khaw Sim Bee (Phraya Ratsadanupradit Mahitsaraphakdi to the Siamese crown), meanwhile, built nearby Asdang House in a neo-Palladian idiom that marked him as a member of a cosmopolitan class that circulated freely across national and imperial borders. The travelling, sojourning perspective of the comprador allows historians to critically examine the fractured, multi-scaled geographies at play across global networks as well as what Raymond Williams has described as “the metropolitan interpretation of its own processes as universals.” This panel invites papers that examine the role of comprador patrons and architects as active participants in the production of the global modern built environment in the 19th and 20th centuries. The panel aims to create an understanding of treaty ports, colonial cities, and free trade zones not only as sites of local and foreign interactions but as an incubators of new ideas about architecture in a global capitalist economy.

Papers should identify the ways that compradors actively shaped a conversation between formative iterations of European and Asian architecture as translators of regional, national, and universal idioms and approaches to architectural and urban space. Some questions that papers might explore are: Did comprador architecture preserve local “traditions” or accelerate the development of modern approaches to building? How did comprador tastes shape the circulation of regional idioms? How did comprador agents cultivate or weaken building expertise? How did comprador patronage support the growth of the architectural profession? How did comprador building projects intervene on the growth of new cities? How were compradors able to translate across diverse social circumstances, building communities, and cultural tastes? How did comprador tastes appeal to both regionalist and nationalist tendencies?

European Peripheries in Architectural Historiography

Petra Brouwer,
University of Amsterdam,

Kristina Jõekalda,
Estonian Academy of Arts,

Informed by postcolonial theory and more recent attempts to write alternative global histories of architecture, architectural historians have increasingly criticized the persistence of the architectural canon and its Eurocentric perspective, questioning architectural categories, narratives, and terminology.

Our session aims to critically analyze Eurocentrism from the hitherto neglected perspective of Europe’s own ‘margins’. We take as a starting point that Eurocentrism, as operationalized in the first architectural history surveys from the nineteenth and early twentieth century, comprises only a few countries: Germany, England, France, Italy and classical Greece. With their exclusive focus on monuments like the Greek temple or the French and German cathedrals, exemplifying stylistic perfection, all other European architecture, be it from the Baltic countries, the Netherlands, Spain, Portugal or Scandinavia, was deemed marginal. From the late nineteenth century onwards, many of these ‘margins’ produced their own historical accounts on national or regional architecture. Almost without exception, these accounts explicated their national and regional architecture as a derivation, relying heavily on the historiography at hand. The hypothesis we want to bring up for discussion is that by adopting the method and narrative of the general histories of architecture, these national and regional architectural histories have perpetuated their position in the margins to this very day.

We invite papers about the practice of architectural history writing in Europe’s ‘peripheral’ countries and regions from the 19th century to the present that address the problematic relationship between the local, the national and the general. We are not interested in national histories per se, but rather in the way they can be positioned in a wider geographical and disciplinary framework. To what extent were these books aimed at ‘filling the gaps’ of general architectural history? What alternative approaches were developed? Should we interpret the adaptation of the Eurocentric perspective as a self-colonizing act, and the alternatives as subversive, or are other readings possible? How far have historical realities further strengthened divisions between the East and West, or the South and North of Europe? We particularly welcome papers that explore cultural exchange and transfer (through influence, appropriation, inclusion, opposition, role models), and the local/indigenous (through geography, religion, race, building material, politics, history) in the widest sense.

Europe’s Own Islamic Architecture: Heritage, Contestation, and Necessity

Chair: Mia Fuller,
U.C. Berkeley,

In 2009, a majority of the Swiss electorate voted against the construction of minarets on Swiss mosques – implying an acceptance of new mosques and by extension, of Muslims; but denying the buildings (and by extension, their users) their most distinctive and most visible trait. Germany’s right-wing Alternative for Germany party, meanwhile, has made it an on-going agenda to halt any new mosque construction altogether. In parts of Spain and Catalonia, despite high proportions of Muslim migrants and generally peaceable Christian-Muslim relations, conflicts over proposed mosques have erupted as well. At the same time, Palermo’s Norman-Arab architecture is consistently preserved as a marker of Sicily’s Muslim past; Córdoba’s La Mezquita Mosque is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Historic Center site and as such, garners high numbers of appreciative visitors; and Islamic architecture throughout the Balkans, extensive and varied as it is, remains beloved and in some cases, recently restored.

This panel poses the question of how to situate – architecturally speaking – Islam within Europe. Are mosques (the quintessential and most necessary Islamic structures) signs of danger, of possible radicalization within otherwise placid and overwhelmingly Christian cityscapes? Are they indications of distant and long-ago settled conflicts, reassuringly resolved in the course of the Crusades, their architectural traces neutralized into heritage or converted into sites of other worship?

We will take as our premise that increasing numbers of mosques in Europe are inevitable, and that they present opportunities for meaningful design and simultaneous urban and social integration and differentiation. With that in mind, we invite papers addressing histories of European Islamic architecture, principally (although not exclusively) dating to the late 19th century and imperialism’s return of ‘the colonized’ to ‘the metropole’, as well as prospects for developing and future Islamic architecture in Europe. How will such projects be negotiated, locally and nationally? What architectural forms will they adopt: variations on historic Moorish, Arab, or Ottoman models? Or the currently more common Saudi model, often financed by a Gulf State? Will local syncretisms play a design role? How will funding and oversight shape individual projects? Our ultimate goal is to initiate an overdue, overarching discussion of the place of Islam in the built environment of Europe, today and in the future.

The Foundations of Architectural Research

Barbara Penner,
Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL,

Charles Rice,
University of Technology Sydney,

In the last two decades, architectural historians have increasingly explored how a broad range of ‘actors’ produce buildings and cities, and how architecture operates within a complex web of specific social and material relations. These studies have been important in terms of recognizing how governmental, regulatory and commercial contexts impact upon architectural and urban agendas and outcomes. Yet the formation of the very ground upon which architectural research has been constructed and the ways in which it is framed remains understudied. As Arindam Dutta reminds us in A Second Modernism (2013), knowledge paradigms are not essential or self-contained, but emerge from “a hybridized system involving the infrastructural or regional contexts in which they are set – the availability of funds, of people, epistemic currents, disciplinary audience, and so on.” (p. 19)

This session will aim to deepen understanding of architectural research by focusing on the role of its funding through foundations, think tanks, nongovernmental and governmental organizations. Indeed, in the postwar period, some of the most influential research in architecture and urbanism was funded by such bodies, from the Ford Foundation’s funding of Kevin Lynch’s and Marshall McLuhan’s research to the Rockefeller Foundation’s funding of Jane Jacobs’. Meanwhile, key networking opportunities were provided at the International Design Conference at Aspen (an offshoot of the Aspen Institute for Humanistic Studies think tank) and the Delos meetings. Architectural and urban issues have also been pursued through large governmentally-funded research projects sponsored in other fields, including in defense, information technology, sustainability and climate science.

With some notable exceptions, however, few scholars have studied how funding organisations have influenced and shaped research in urban development, planning and housing policy or specific architectural projects. Yet these organisations each have their own histories and agendas, which direct them to focus architectural research in certain ways, and which merit analysis in their own right. This session thus invites papers that will explore the funding of architectural research through specific case studies that illuminate these relationships. We would particularly welcome paper proposals which engage with the wider geopolitical context and the ideological agendas of funding.

Launching the Architectural Magazine: The Formation of a Genre

Anne Hultzsch,
The Oslo School for Architecture and Design,

It is now a few years that one of the UK’s leading weekly architectural magazines, Building Design, seized its print production and moved all its contents online and yet, at the point of its potential disappearance, we know little about the beginnings of the printed architectural magazine. Surfacing as a genre from a widespread publishing frenzy in the first half of the 19th century, simultaneously in many countries, imitated and reinterpreted elsewhere later on, and re-launched as and when technological changes appeared, the architectural magazine is one of the most important material manifestations of architectural cultures besides the building itself. Its status as an, often but not always heavily illustrated, serial with weekly, monthly or quarterly publication means it is placed as no other medium to capture the Zeitgeist of building, mapping architecture’s stakeholders, whether professional, academic or lay.

While scholars have in the last few decades increasingly turned to investigate 1960s and 1970s architectural journalism, the nineteenth century has received surprisingly little attention, a curious paradox. Aiming to close this gap, this session invites contributions that explore the genre of the architectural magazine by examining its editorial formation at any point during the long 19th century, including the last and first decades of the 18th and 20th centuries, respectively. This moment of formation can be interpreted to have taken place at different times in different places, and shifts in the genre will have led to the reformulation of its characteristics. It is these moments of defining what it meant to conceive, write, illustrate, edit, print, distribute or read a magazine for architecture, which this session will target. Particularly welcome are also contributions that focus on lesser known titles or countries in which the genre emerged later than in others.

Papers should explore themes around the producers, audiences, distribution, economics, technologies, appearance or geographies (both micro and macro) of the architectural magazine. Questions discussed could include: what constitutes architectural news, in text and image? How did the architectural magazine differ from, or overlap with, other forms of serial publication, both special and general-interest? What role did debate and exchange play, and what was the ensuing relationship between professionals and the public, or between professionals and critics? These and other issues will help to explore and define the crucial part that architecture, and its discourse, played in the public realm of the 19th century.

Measure Every Wandering Planet’s Course. Residential Systems in Early Modern Europe (1400–1750)

Krista De Jonge,
KU Leuven,

Birgitte Bøggild Johannsen,
National Museum of Denmark,

Konrad Ottenheym,
Utrecht University,

At the crossroads of architectural history, court studies and urban studies, this session will address the interaction between the different residences of the early modern élite in Europe from the waning of the middle ages until the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, exploring them as parts of an integrated system or network on different geographic scales. The noble way of life was essentially nomadic, mirroring the constant migration of the reigning princely court in early modern Europe, dictated not only by political necessity (including especially war) but also by pleasure (e.g. war’s mirror image, the hunt). Complex itineraries thus linked the often extremely scattered noble possessions with the centers of gravity of court life in a single ‘planetary’ system. While the ‘nomadic‘, and seasonal, character of the noble way of life has been generally recognized, there has been no attempt as yet to do the same for the elites at a lower level than that of the reigning prince, let alone for the urban patriciate and merchant class. The latter nevertheless also migrated between townhouse (with or without commercial infrastructure), suburban property, and rural domain, serving as economic and socio-cultural investment (especially if tied to a noble title). Interaction between different social levels have not been looked at from a spatial perspective, leaving open pressing questions on the architectural plane.

Papers will explore particular conjunctions of residences beyond the classic opposition of town/country (to which in the early modern era is added the “villa”, suburban or pseudo-rural but not fortified and with urban formal characteristics), thus revisiting and revising standard typologies within a broader framework. Case-studies might address questions such as the interplay between the patron’s itinerary and the development of particular residence types, explore architectural exchanges between particular patrons or social groups in this perspective, or review the whole spatial footprint of a patron in its entirety. They will pay particular attention to the role(s) each residence might fulfil within the strategy of self-representation of the patron in relation to his/her rank and position, and to the evolution of that role in response to changing aspirations.

Mediating Architecture and its Audiences: the Architectural Critic

Maristella Casciato,
Getty Research Institute,

Gary Fox,
History and Theory of Architecture, UCLA,

The session interrogates the emergence of architectural criticism as a key site for the production, circulation, and transformation of architectural ideas and practices in the twentieth century.

Responsible for bringing architecture into public discourse, architectural critics like Montgomery Schuyler, Lewis Mumford, Nikolaus Pevsner, John Summerson, Catherine Bauer, Jane Jacobs, Bruno Zevi, Ada-Louise Huxtable, and François Chaslin – to mention a few names of global significance – had transformative effects on the field. Each engaged a remarkable diversity of practices including historical scholarship and preservation advocacy, becoming leaders in cultivating public opinion and in fostering a resemantization of the relationship between the built and the textual. In many ways their practices were divergent, yet together they articulate the often overlooked gaps between the built, the projective, and the public.

The investigation examines these transformative, yet little-studied figures, querying their historical role in the development of new audiences for architecture, their impact on the development of architectural journalism as a field distinct from the academy, and their influence on contemporaneous architectural practice. The session has potentially important ramifications for the history of architecture, cultural history, and histories of media. There is little existing scholarly literature on the topic, though recent research projects have begun to address the issue.

The chairs encourage non-biographical and non-descriptive approaches to the topic, instead inviting scholars, architects, and critics to respond to historically specific questions such as:

  • How did the role of the architectural critic emerge, transform, and come to be highly specialized over the course of the twentieth century?
  • How has criticism adapted to its many media forms or engaged media systems beyond the textual?
  • What types of audiences does criticism engage or produce?
  • What historical relationships have criticism and journalism had with building practices and with scholarly production?
  • How does architectural journalism relate to political structures and institutions? What role has censorship played? How might we account for histories of repression of the architectural press?
  • What role does criticism play in non-Western contexts?
  • How have the dictates of journalism run counter to those of criticism? Where has the friction between criticism as an ethic or as an esthetic become apparent?
  • What becomes of the critic as the object of critique?
  • How has architectural criticism been treated historiographically, and what kinds of historiography might emerge from scholarly attention to architectural criticism?
  • What does it mean to make historical evidence of criticism?

Modernism and Rurality: Mapping the State of Research.

Luisa Moretto,
Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB),

Axel Fisher,
Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB),

Rurality appears as an emerging frame of reference in European discourses around the built environment. While modern architecture has sought, throughout its development, to find inspiration in vernacular and rural architecture, as a presumed source of authentic and rational architectural expression, it is in the cities that this movement identified its preferred field of operations. Similarly goes with the development of modernist urban planning and design, where the importation of countryside’s environmental and social qualities to the urban sphere was meant to reform and cure the ill large industrial cities. Nowadays, the architectural and urban design and planning agenda is riding the wave of urban agriculture, but also questioning the longstanding lack of interest for rural areas, as testified by the AlterRurality series of meetings (2012 - ongoing) and by the experience of the Espace rural et projet spatial network (ERPS: Rural space & spatial design).

This session aims to address, from a historical perspective, the relation between, on one side, architecture and the related disciplines, and on the other side, agriculture and rurality at large. In fact, modernist design and planning in and for the countryside is an overlooked topic in architectural history, and often stand as an underestimated cultural heritage. An emerging stream of scholarship has approached the topic from different perspectives: focusing on stylistic issues, to stress the tension between modernist and vernacular languages (Lejeune & Sabattino, Modern Architecture and the Mediterranean: Vernacular Dialogues and Contested Identities, 2010); analysing the scale of the village, to research how modernist town planning ideas were modified by the encounter with a rural context (Feniger & Levin, The Modern Village, EAHN 2016 conference session), or finally tracking yet another stream of transnational exchange or exportation of expertise, models and ideas. Still, a more holistic understanding of the topic is needed.

To this end, we welcome proposals specifically mapping case studies concerned with large-scale agricultural development and/or colonization schemes conceived and (but not necessarily) implemented in Europe and beyond during modern times (late 18th-20th century), strongly connected to nation- and State-building processes, and to the modernization of the countryside. We are particularly interested in those examples which aimed to “make the difference” in both scale and numbers, entailing radical reshaping of previously uninhabited or sparsely populated areas into new, planned, “total” rural landscapes.

Contributors are explicitly invited to expand their research focus on one or more case studies, and conceptualize the topic’s methodological and epistemic implications to the discipline of architectural history, or the potential instrumentality of the historical knowledge produced from such scholarship.

The Persistence of a Provincial Baroque

Maarten Delbeke,
ETH Zürich,

Edoardo Piccoli,
Politecnico di Torino,

The historiography of the baroque has involved concepts and periodizations drawn from religious and political history combined with, or opposed to, formal and stylistic categories. This session wants to add to – and challenge – existing historiography by postulating the existence of an at one persistent and provincial baroque. We hypothesize that the recatholisation of large parts of Europe over the course of the 17th century not only spurred the dissemination of architectural models and vocabularies first developed in the centers of power, but also made available an architectural repertory for centuries to come, to the extent that in certain regions – in Europe but possibly also elsewhere – a long baroque almost imperceptibly segued into the neo-styles of the 19th century.

This session wants to provide an opportunity to map the phenomenon of an at once persistent and provincial baroque, by beginning to address the following questions:

Is the longue durée of the baroque just a function of repeated campaigns of reinforcing or sustaining the Catholic identity in certain areas, or have other programmes (institutional, political) adopted the baroque repertory as well? Is the concept of a ‘popular’ appreciation and adoption of provincial baroque a provable fact, or a myth based on the opposition between an ‘urban’ classicism and a ‘rural’ baroque (Tapié)? What does provincialism mean in the context of the baroque: a zone of passive reception, of invented traditions, or of unfettered experiment? Is the ‘provincial’ a matter of boundaries and topographies, or rather of political, religious and economical conditions? Is the persistence of the baroque conditioned by zones of liminality and (confessional) conflicts, or does it depend on continuity, cross-fertilization and patterns of dissemination? How to define the formal repertory of a provincial baroque, and understand the conditions of its definition, transmission and practice? Is the repertory a matter of typology, structure, materiality, ornament …?

Our session welcomes papers that contribute to the definition and understanding of this phenomenon through a critical reading of eloquent case-studies drawn from 17th to 19th-century Europe and beyond.

The Political Aesthetics of Postmodernism: Between Late Socialism and Late Capitalism

Léa-Catherine Szacka,
The Oslo School of Architecture and Design,

Maros Krivy,
Estonian Academy of Arts / University of Cambridge,

In 1983 Paolo Portoghesi, in Postmodern, The Architecture of the Post-Industrial Society, connected the rise of postmodernism to the struggle of the Polish Solidarity movement (Solidarność) against bureaucracy and totalitarianism. He wrote: ‘The architecture of our century opposes ideology to life, projects to reality.’ While Portoghesi extracted architectural messages from a political field, the authors in Eastern countries and the Soviet Union interpreted postmodern architecture in political terms. The aesthetic pluralism of Charles Jencks, whose The Language of Postmodern Architecture fascinated the circles of samizdat and nomenklatura alike, was a highly charged political notion for such diverse figures as Václav Havel, the then Czech dissident, or Alexander Ryabushin, the then Secretary of the Union of Soviet Architects.

Prompting a particular bonding between design and ideology, the flourishing of postmodern aesthetics in the East and in the West was arguably connected to the shift from late socialism to late capitalism. Yet very few postmodern authors and architects would acknowledge their complicity with capitalist expansion. Looking at examples of postmodern translations in both Western and Eastern countries in the 1980s and 1990s, this session will tackle the intricate relations between politics and aesthetics and the role these have played out in the development and global expansion of postmodernism in architecture. We are interested in the following questions:

  • What were the geopolitical dynamics of architectural postmodernism as its tenets were translated from socialist to capitalist contexts and back?
  • What was the political import of postmodernism’s apparent return to life and reality? Was it an ‘aesthetic instrument’ of capitalism pure and simple, or was it a way of reinventing socialism?
  • How did such contrasting terms as totalitarianism and pluralism oscillate between political discourses and aesthetic domains?
  • How did late socialist architects understand, translate and domesticate postmodernism, as the quintessential – to quote Jameson – ‘cultural logic of late capitalism’? How did the late socialist experience of Eastern countries and the Soviet Union shape the work of postmodern architects and theorists in the West?
  • And finally, in what ‘ghostly’ forms (to refer to Reinhold Martin) has postmodernism endured since the apparent end of history in the 1990s?

We seek richly documented yet conceptually ambitious papers, in which the attentive interpretation of postmodern encounters connects with the rethinking of postmodernism as an architectural style, a cultural logic and a political instrument.

Rediscovering the Rediscovering of Antiquity in the Renainssance: New Sources and New Interpretations of Old Ones

Bernd Kulawik,
independent scholar, Zurich/Berlin,

If we understand Renaissance as the rebirth of Roman antiquity, than especially our built environment is still the best place outside of museums to study its consequences: from Brunelleschi (in fact: since the so-called Florentine Proto-Renaissance) to Postmodernism, Roman architecture served as a template for studies or background for critical, even ironical remarks in built form. Therefore, we find citations from Antiquity almost everywhere. While the main directions of this development have been described and the best known examples of studies and copies have been in the focus of researchers’ interests since the beginnings of architectural history, a large amount of such studies has not even been examined, let alone edited and made available to the scientific community. This is true for the largest surviving group of architectural surveys and studies (‘Bauaufnahmen’) from the 16th century centred around the so-called Codex Destailleur D at the Berlin Kunstbibliothek and comprising some 700 sheets with more than 3,350 single drawings – most of them more precise than anything made before or later, and many showing buildings or details that disappeared already in the Cinquecento. But these drawings by anonymous (mostly French) draughtsmen were only one part of the far larger project by the (erroneously) so-called Accademia della Virtù or Vitruviana to document and study every Roman artefact related to architecture: buildings and parts of them, inscriptions, coins, reliefs, statues, vases, ornaments, paintings etc. and, of course: Vitruvius’ Ten Books. While it was always thought that this project (described in Claudio Tolomei’s famous letter to Agostino de’Landi from 1542) never achieved any state of realisation, it can now be said that – on the contrary – it was almost completely executed. The high documentary standard, equalling later research at least up to the 19th century, led Theodor Mommsen to use Jean Matal’s collection of inscriptions (now in the Vatican) as the starting point for the Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum. For all the other sources something similar still remains to be done. In addition, many important architectural books of the time (by Philandrier, Vignola, Labacco, Barbaro, Palladio) seem to be closely related to this project. The aim of the session is to bring together researchers working on the rediscovery of this and other, related materials from the 16th century and their (possible) later reception, and who are interested in its contextualisation within the large interdisciplinary, international network of archaeological research established in Rome between c. 1537 and 1555. [For more information please see]

Reform: Architecture as Process, 1870–1920

Leslie Topp,
Birkbeck, University of London,

The period 1870 to 1920 was marked by both rapid change and a deep ambivalence towards that change. Large-scale urbanisation, mass migration, mass movements in politics, shifting gender and class identity, expansion of empire and national consolidation and aspiration – all these phenomena of the years around 1900 were confronted, embraced and reformulated by architectural culture.

Pevsner‘s argument in Pioneers of the Modern Movement (1936), was that the period was important for a handful of figures who foreshadowed interwar modernism. This reading was challenged beginning in the 1990s, resulting in three main shifts: Art Nouveau, Jugendstil and Secessionism were recast as rich conceptual seams worth exploring in their own terms; the modernism of Pevsner‘s pioneers was understood to be much more complicated than had previously been acknowledged; and architecture was shown to have played an innovating role in the nationalist movements of the period. But since these scholarly advances were made, the study of the period has slowed. This session aims to revitalise it by refocusing on two key concepts.

Reform: This term, used across the applied arts in this period, signals a rethinking and reinvigoration that is more open-ended and less anachronistic than ‚modernism‘. It also transcends restrictive stylistic categories such as Art Nouveau or National Romanticism. It was a term used in a wide international context. It meant an opening up to new audiences and new forms of producer, a reconnection with ‚life‘ and ‚reality‘, a desire both for order and for emancipation, and the impulse towards a heightening of meaning. It indicated both a desire for change and a critique of modernisation.

Process: The linking of architecture to reform points to architecture‘s mutability in this period. The sense that each new design – built or unbuilt – was an intervention into a developing and mutating world was unavoidable. Even when an architect sought to provide rootedness and stability, he/she was driven by an acute sensitivity to change. The notion of ‚architecture as process‘ puts the emphasis on debate, disagreement, connection and contention.

Art historical periodisation defines 1890–1914 as a distinct period. Rethinking the period‘s parameters as 1870 to 1920 brings phenomena sharing the qualities above into the frame from outside the period as it has traditionally been conceived, opening up new connections and destabilising fixed assumptions.

Innovative proposals from any geographic region are encouraged.

Rethinking Architectural Colour

Conor Lucey,
University College Dublin,

Lynda Mulvin,
University College Dublin,

Just as early modern ornament and decoration has in recent years reclaimed its place in serious architectural discourse, confirmed by sessions and papers at recent meetings of the Society of Architectural Historians, the European Architectural History Network, and other forums and publications, so the status of colour remains to be fully addressed. Recent and ongoing research initiatives such as ‘Saturated Space’, run jointly by the Architectural Association and the Università Iuav di Venezia, signal a burgeoning interest in the decorative and ornamental properties of architectural colour; but the emphasis here has been squarely on contemporary practice. Other interdisciplinary projects, such as the ‘Progress in Colour Studies’ series of conferences and publications at the University of Glasgow, with its focus on linguistics, psychology and anthropology, have yet to attract histories of architecture, ornament and interior decoration to its otherwise broad roster of academic disciplines.

This session proposes to address the various roles and functions of colour in architectural design and decoration by widening the field of enquiry. As it stands, the established scholarship on architectural colour may be divided into two discrete Eurocentric strands, broadly characterized as ‘intellectual’ and ‘material’. While archaeological excavations during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries revolutionized understanding of architectural colour in the classical world, so it initiated a complex and wide-ranging theoretical literature from practitioners including Jacob Ignatz Hittdorff, Gottfried Semper, Bruno Taut and Le Corbusier. In more recent decades, research based on the empirical evidence from conservation and supplemented by archival sources, perhaps exemplified by the publications of Ian Bristow, has provided the basis for the material reconstructions of colour schemes long lost to the historical record.

Is the European conceptual tradition undermined by increasingly sophisticated scientific methods used in conservation practice? Are there consonances between Western and non-Western approaches to colour? Tallinn is a particularly appropriate place to explore approaches to historic architectural colour, given its UNESCO heritage designation and the comprehensive ‘Cultural Heritage and Conservation’ programme offered by the Estonian Academy of Arts.

We invite papers that consider colour’s intrinsic (ornamental) or extrinsic (decorative) relationship to form, that present new conservation-led research which challenges received orthodoxies about the role of colour in the articulation of exterior ornament or interior space, or that introduce theoretical approaches long overshadowed by the dominance of the Western European literature on architectural design.

Spaces for Children as ‘Citizens of the Future’ in the Service of 20th Century Political Ideologies

Alexandra Alegre,
Universidade de Lisboa,

Yael Allweil,
Technion IIT, Haifa,

The recognition of childhood and the autonomy of children since the 18th century resulted in the provision of distinctive spaces specifically designed for them. Schools, medical facilities, playgrounds, orphanages, cultural spaces, sports facilities, among other typologies, were created during the 20th century, envisaged by Ellen Key as the century of the child. In the last decades, both architectural historians and museums (MoMA, Vitra Museum, RIBA) focused on the theme of material culture of children from an architectural perspective, leading to the attention of this theme to a wider audience.

The condition of children as significant means to transforming human condition was understood by pedagogues and also realized by different political regimes and ideologies along the last centuries. Regarded as the ‘citizens of the future’, children were one of the main focuses of political, social, and health/sanitary campaigns: as active agents in the persecution of political and ideological values of distinctive regimes and communities. Children’s spaces were meant to play an active role in the pursuit of those aims.

This session intends to discuss the relationship between the architecture of children’s spaces and the ideal of childhood of different political ideologies that looked at children as active agents in the shaping of new citizens and society. Different children’s spaces from the 20th century were considered as means of social change, serving at the same time as symbols of propaganda and as images of a strong political and social ideology (dictatorial regime, totalitarian regime, democracy, social democracy, communal societies, etc.). The session aims at gathering case studies from different geographical areas, providing a basis for reflecting on the historical significance of children’s spaces within an international framework.

The design for children’s spaces in the 20th century poses a particular challenge for the history of architecture by invoking visions of the future, and points to a number of research questions:

  • How did political visions for ideal society reflect themselves in children’s spaces in different, often competing, international contexts?
  • How have ideological societies experimented on visions of the ideal future via children’s spaces?
  • How did the architecture of children’s spaces attempt to educate and shape future citizens, using the architectural means of typology, materiality, etc.?
  • In retrospect, what is the meaning of these ‘spaces for the future’ today for the identity, values and visions of society?
  • What was the impact of these spaces on their societies for different generations, and how have ‘future citizens’ historicized them?

United Nations in the Non-Western World: Norms and Forms of ‘Development’ Programmes

Tom Avermaete,
Delft University of Technology,

Samia Henni,
ETH Zurich,

Immediately after its establishment in October 1945, the United Nations (UN) founded the World Bank Group in order to invest in non-Western countries, boost their economic growth, and channel their modernization projects. With the gradual collapse of European colonial empires – which stimulated the creation of the Non- Aligned Movement – new states joined the UN and large-scale ‘development’ programmes were launched. Under the header of technical ‘assistance,’ ‘cooperation,’ or ‘aid,’ these programmes seem to have favoured Western urban planning policies and politics. Yet, in what exactly consisted these programmes and how did they operate? To what extent did these ‘development’ programmes affect the politico- economic sovereignty of non-Western countries? And how were Western values mediated, but also challenged and remoulded by the so-called ‘receivers’ of ‘development’ in the non-Western world?

This session aims to address these questions, and to explore the relationship between UN’s financial investments, political significances, and planning measures in Africa, Eastern Europe, and Southeast Asia during the Cold War. The objective is to investigate the role of UN’s planning and financial bodies in the making of Western post-war international architectural and planning networks and organizations, on the one hand; and to scrutinize the roots of ‘development’ strategies and their impacts on the consolidation of newly independent states, on the other hand. Considering the 2016 decision of the World Bank to eliminate the term ‘developing’ from its official vocabulary, the session also intends to question the purpose of the UN taxonomies.

We seek papers that critically deconstruct the involvement of architects and planners in specific UN endeavours in non-Western countries, including international seminars, conferences, competitions, housing policies, infrastructure designs, and rural and urban planning. Of special interest are papers that disclose how particular projects or built environments had obeyed or disobeyed to UN ‘development’ directives and expose the multifaceted impacts of such programmes at national, transnational and international levels. We welcome papers that demonstrate a method for analysing architecture and planning projects in historically, politically, economically and geographically specific processes of UN ‘development’ programmes.

Unpacking the Archives: Travelling Architectures from East to West and Back During the 1960s and 1970s

Alina Șerban,
The National University of Arts, Bucharest,

Irina Tulbure,
The University of Architecture and Urbanism, Bucharest,

The main objective of this session is to explore the histories of built environment from the 1960s and 1970s by revisiting the role and the significance acquired by photography as an agency for knowledge transfer and alternative encounter between architectural practices, professional discourses and the everyday social life of urban public spaces from Eastern and Western Europe. Although architectural photography had played a rather marginal status in the examination of the historiographies of Eastern European architecture, its exponential rise within the architectural studies in the recent years has brought into our attention a wide range of elements and narratives which concerned the occurrences of architectural vocabulary and the shifts in architectural thinking and production taking place in the East. This session will trace the submerged practices of architectural photography being interested both in the relational histories of production of these photographs and the evidence they perform in relation with the study of broader geopolitical processes, the (ex)changes in the architectural profession and the reading of built environment in the East not just as a standardized, homogenous state-programmatic experience. We propose to address the architectural phenomena during 1960s and 1970s through the politics of architectural photography, its practices of production, distribution and archiving. We are interested in the process of visualising architecture, raising questions about documenting intentionality in photography and the practices of representation and contextualization of architectural object, operating with the implication it has in both shaping individual and collective accounts, in mirroring the core values of socialist / neoliberal society and culture and in opening up new possibilities for entering in dialogue and correlating professional attitudes, practices and intellectual preoccupations.

We are looking for papers that investigate the role of photography and photographic archives (private or institutional) as networking tools between the two Blocs, as travelling notebooks and evidence of new linkages, reflections on the daily use of the representation of architecture, that will open up new perspectives upon the practices and the concerns of architectural professionals, the contestations and challenges experienced by individuals and propaganda mechanisms. The papers can investigate both official and private photography circulating from East to West and backwards: documentation travels and study trips, personal photographic archives, tourism photography and press photography, UIA public presentations, publications which promoted the national architectures worldwide which impacted locally in a varied ways both the architectural environment and thinking.

Roundtable: Who (Still) Needs Eastern Europe?

Carmen Popescu,
Ecole Normale Supérieure d’Architecture de Bretagne, Rennes,

Eastern Europe made a late appearance in the architectural historiography. Ironically, among the rare surveys to mention the region figures the series of Sir Banister Fletcher’s A History of Architecture, whose original edition in 1896 proposed to distinguish between “historical” and “non-historical” architecture. Though not specified as such in the more recent enlarged editions of the text, the briefness and the type of comments implicitly indicated that Eastern Europe would rather belong to a non-history of architecture.

The reframing of the global geopolitics engendered by the dismantling of the Communist bloc (1989/ 1991) triggered a remapping of the territories of art and architectural history. Eastern Europe managed to integrate the changing discourse of architectural historiography through two different narratives. On the one hand, emulating the prolific studies in Nationalism and Identity, scholars interested in this region turned to their advantage its marginality by analysing its architecture in terms of idiosyncrasy. On the other hand, there emerged the powerful field of the study of the Cold War, which came to be seen, in the following years, as the most relevant perspective for looking at the region. Hence, Eastern Europe was assimilated to its recent history – as a significant part of the Communist bloc – and its architecture was studied as a by-product of the latter: starting with the Stalinist mechanics and continuing with topics like politisation, prefabrication, ordinariness. More recently, the Spatial turn added new angles to these topics – of their (geo)political, ideological, technological and aesthetic implications –, giving more and more place to comparative approach, stimulated by questions of transfers and circulation between the two blocs. This culminated with the expansion of the Cold War geography by introducing the Third World in the analysis of the polarised frame.

After this progressive (and disputable) integration of the current historiographical discourse, the operativeness of the concept of Eastern Europe seems to have reached a dilemmatic point: its relative success has been accompanied by a distancing from the very use of the concept. If such a withdrawal is justifiable – the fear of the limitation inherent to all area studies, the belief in a “global” history, etc. –, it shows also a certain methodological turn.

This round-table aims to debate this withdrawal, proposing to analyse its causes and consequences. Is it still useful to refer to a geo-historical concept in writing an architectural history that aspires more and more to be transversal and inclusive? And if so, how is it possible to make such a concept recover both its sedimental dimension and its particularities? By taking Eastern Europe as a (valid) pretext, the round-table invites scholars from all geographical/ thematic fields to explore what is at stake in forging a renewed historiographical discourse.

A Woman’s Situation: Transnational Mobility and Gendered Practice

Anooradha Iyer Siddiqi,
New York University,

Rachel Lee,
Institute for Architecture, Technische Universtät Berlin,

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.


The National Library of Estonia

  • National Libary of Estonia
  • National Libary of Estonia
  • National Libary of Estonia

The EAHN 2018 conference will be held in the premises of the Estonian National Library in Tallinn. Designed by architect Raine Karp, as the winning entry for the national architectural competition in 1984, the building was completed in 1992 and includes large underground storage spaces, reading rooms for up to 1000 visitors, galleries and conference halls.

For more information on the National Library:

Virtual tour of the conference centre:


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Tallinn is the capital and largest city of Estonia, with around 400 000 inhabitants. Situated on the shore of the Gulf of Finland, it is 80 km (50 miles) south of Helsinki and 300 km (200 miles) west of Saint Petersburg. The oldest surviving structures in Tallinn date from the 13th Century. Between the 14th and 16th centuries the city was a major trading hub of the Hanseatic League. Tallinn’s Old Town is one of the best-preserved medieval cities in Northern Europe and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Other notable sites include the 18th century Kadriorg palace and park and the late 19th century neighbourhood of Kalamaja, with its wooden dwellings and recently re-converted industrial sites. Today Tallinn is the major political, financial, cultural and educational centre of Estonia, especially known for its advancements in the information technology sector and as the birthplace of numerous innovative start-ups, including Skype.

More information on Tallinn here:


Official tourist information website with listings for accommodation, heritage and cultural sites and attractions:

Museum of Estonian Architecture:


Conference queries:

Karin Nugis
Research Assistant, Institute of Art History and Visual Culture
Estonian Academy of Arts
Tel: +372 6117 656

Information on sessions and round tables submission and scientific programme:

Andres Kurg
Head of Institute of Art History and Visual Culture
Estonian Academy of Arts