Architecture, Power, Embodiment

author: Hilde Heynen, Department of Architecture, KU Leuven
published: Nov. 27, 2017,   recorded: September 2017,   views: 1043

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This lecture traces how architecture is intertwined with articulations of power and difference by reviewing the relevant literature of recent decades. Starting from the 1970s, when paradigms of neo-Marxism and critical theory informed scholars like Manfredo Tafuri and Alexander Tzonis, the paper investigates how political and social issues increasingly became central in architectural history and theory. The issue of power was analyzed in several contexts and from multiple perspectives, including those of space syntax postcolonial studies and theories of participation. These explorations led to a critical questioning of the very concept of architecture – no longer the undisputed terrain of master architects who contributed to the canon, but a contested territory that many voices claim is relevant to their cause. Part of this literature focuses on how physical spaces inscribe power constellations and differentiations onto human bodies, with consequences that Bernard Tschumi Architects, La Villet, Paris. Source: Wikimediadirectly affect everyday practices and experiences. Here the skills of architectural historians and theorists are relied upon to analyze and interpret everyday environments rather than architectural masterworks.

Discussed case studies are three parks: La Villette in Paris (architect Bernard Tschumi), High Line in New York (architects Diller Scofidio, with James Corner), and Park Spoor Noord in Antwerp (architects Secchi-Vigano).

Hilde Heynen is a professor of architectural theory at the University of Leuven, Belgium. Her research focuses on issues of modernity, modernism, and gender in architecture. She authored Architecture and Modernity: A Critique (MIT Press, 1999) and co-edited Negotiating Domesticity: Spatial productions of gender in modern architecture (Routledge, 2005), Sage Handbook of Architectural Theory (2012), and regularly publishes in journals such as Home Cultures, The Journal of Architecture, Interiors, etc. Hilde Heynen studied architecture and philosophy at the University of Leuven, where she also received her PhD. She was a research fellow at the Radcliffe Institute (Harvard University) and held visiting positions at MIT (Cambridge, Mass.), at the AA-school (London), at RMIT (Melbourne), and at Harvard. She is currently president of the European Architectural History Network (EAHN).

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