The Avie and Sarah Arenson Built Heritage Research Center (BHRC) at the Faculty of Architecture and Town Planning at the Technion will host its fourth international symposium on heritage, history, and culture. The symposium will take place at the Technion in Haifa. The public program will be broadcast live on Thursday, March 24th, 2022.
The symposium will bring together scholars to present their current research on architectural transformations in the neoliberal era. Through an international perspective and comparative outlook, we aim to question the historiographic scarcity of architectural studies in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. We strive to identify the similarities and differences in the development of spatial practices amid tremendous economic and cultural transformations, specifically since the 1970s, and the rise of neoliberalism.
– The Missing Link – Architectural Culture and the Neoliberal Turn
Beginning in the 1970s, the decline of socialism and modern-day utopianism in light of new political and economic realities fostered the emergence of neoliberal ideologies alongside new architectural aesthetics. These aesthetics were gradually translated into dissimilar and even contradictory branches of postmodern architecture, as well as into planning ideologies closely tied to notions of locality, progress, and anti-modernist sentiment. However, the translation of neoliberal ideologies and practices into these new spatial aesthetics remains under explored in architectural historiography.
Furthermore, the term “neoliberalism” has been controversial and often attracts incoherent definitions and ambiguous understandings. For our purposes, neoliberalism will be used as an expression that follows and expands what David Harvey defined as “a theory of political economic practices that proposes that human well-being can best be advanced by liberating individual entrepreneurial freedoms and skills within an institutional framework characterized by strong private property rights, free markets, and free trade.” Since the 1970s, almost all Western states, later joined by their socialist counterparts, have embraced some version of neoliberal theory and practice, including deregulation, privatization, and withdrawal from various areas of social provision.
The historiography of modern architecture has traditionally been shaped around questions of style and form, while generally ignoring other external and everyday aspects of the arduous and costly venture of building. Since the 1970s, this stance has been reexamined in ongoing attempts to expand architectural histories to include an analysis of financial and real-estate decision-making processes, such as Manfredo Tafuri’s "Architecture and Utopia" (1973) and Rem Koolhaas’s ״Delirious New York ״ (1978). However, these examinations have remained focused on the independence of the architectural expression, leaving the role of the economy in shaping architecture under-discussed. Drawing on Fredric Jameson’s cultural understanding of late capitalism, as well as Harvey’s description of Karl Marx's “fictitious capital” as a collective formal yearning for stability after the economic crisis of the 1970s, more recent architectural historians have sought to develop the relationship between space, architecture, and neoliberal economies. Scholars such as Reinhold Martin, Peggy Deamer, and Douglas Spencer have incorporated the economy into their architectural histories. In a recent anthology of studies on architecture and its economic ties, ״Neoliberalism on the Ground: Architecture and Transformation from the 1960s to the Present,״ Cupers, Gabrielsson, and Mattsson examined how architecture under neoliberalism “hits the ground” and intervenes in the “political narratives, organizational conditions, and cultural dynamics” of places.
While acknowledging the historiographical gap, much contemporary research has been reluctant to offer new ways of examining the role played by the economy or broadening the scope of architectural research. Thus, when it comes to our understanding of historical developments, the missing link of economic features in architecture is still understudied. However, technological advancements mean that architectural historiography is now better able to embrace multidisciplinary approaches and rigorous processes of economic analysis in relation to the built environment. Such approaches can improve our limited understanding of how these two fields have interacted through time.
The symposium will focus on the legacy of postmodernism in architecture and urban planning from the 1970s to the present day and attempt to link it to the economic transformations of the same period. In particular, the symposium will promote historiographical research on the following topics:
– Spatial practices and their core values in the era of the globalized market economy.
– Architectural culture under global and local economic changes in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.
– Economic readings of real-estate regulation and development ventures and their spatial manifestations.
We wish to pursue these topics in two workshops that will be chaired by Prof. Stephan Trüby (University of Stuttgart) and Prof. Florian Urban (Glasgow School of Art) on March 24, 2022. Graduate and post-doctoral researchers are invited to apply.
– Important Dates
December 26, 2021 – Apply by submitting an abstract and a short author’s biography January 7, 2022 – Notifications of acceptance
March 24, 2022 – International Symposium at the Technion
March 25, 2022 – Day tour of Tel Aviv
– To Apply mail to: [email protected]
Registration details, keynote speakers, accepted abstracts, and the final agenda will be posted by email and social media.
– Format of Abstracts
Abstracts should not exceed 300 words.
Abstracts should follow the directives of The Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition). All abstracts accepted for the workshop presentations will be published either online, in print, or both.
By submitting an abstract, presenters authorize BHRC to publish that abstract online and/or in the printed program.
Abstracts may be reviewed and lightly copy-edited for grammar and consistency of style