Architecture Theory

Recent Publications

  • Chair of Architecture Theory - Footprint 18: Constelation of Awakening: Benjamin and Architecture

    Issue #18 | Spring / Summer 2016 | Constellation of Awakening: Benjamin and Architecture

    Issue's editors: Patrick Healy and Andrej Radman

    In Das Passagen-Werk Benjamin cites a letter from Marx to Ruge, ‘the reform of consciousness consists solely in [...] the awakening of the world from its dream about itself.’ This idea of awakening recurs in Benjamin’s methodological considerations and his many metaphors during the final thirteen years of his life. Benjamin set himself the pedagogical task of awakening ‘the image-making medium within us, raising it to a stereoscopic and dimensional seeing into the depths of historical shadows.’ His ambition was to develop the art of citing without quotation marks, a concept intimately related to that of montage.


    The importance of architectural theory for Benjamin is most evident in his last work. From his writings on Berlin childhood, his essay on Moscow and Naples, Benjamin’s interest in urban topography can be seen to develop into a full analysis of the city, by developing a method which he refers to as physiognomic and in which, inspired by contemporary surrealist practise, the method of montage becomes critical for his showing how the ‘now of recognition’ in the image opens the historical to awareness, and constitutes the reality of history. He cites Giedion and sees his own work as engaged in a similar task: ‘just as Giedion teaches us to read off the basic features of today’s architecture in the buildings erected around 1850,’ Benjamin writes, ‘we in turn would recognise today’s forms, in the life and in the apparently secondary lost forms of that epoch.’


    It was a matter of immediate concern for Benjamin to examine the secondary, the excluded. By a displacement of the angle of vision a positive element would emerge, something different from that previously signified. History is in the nuance, the dialectical contrast as revealed in Benjamin’s Parisian studies of the expressive character of the earliest industrial architecture, machines, department stores and advertisements. Nevertheless, as is clear from his note of the comment from Max Raphael’s Proudhon, Marx, Picasso, Benjamin reproaches Marx for not having advanced along this way in the full measure of the possibilities of historical materialism.


  • Chair of Architecture Theory - Critical and Clinical Cartographies : International Conference Proceedings

    Critical and Clinical Cartographies

    International Conference Proceedings

    Editors: Andrej Radman and Stavros Kousoulas, Jap Sam Books, 2015

    Architecture Theory, Department of Architecture, TU Delft


    What is the relation between the human body as a living organism and the machine technologies applied in medical care? Organized around four thematics – embodiment, technology, care and design-, the Critical and Clinical Carthopgrahies Conference evoked the practice of cartography as a means to map the elusive and shifting thresholds between the organic and the inorganic, the innate and the acquired.

    Critical and Clinical Carthographies arises from a transdisciplinary conference organized by the Theory  Section and Hyperbody of the TU Delft Architecture Department in cooperation with the Bio Mechatronics and Bio Robotics Section of the Department of Bio Mechanical Engineering, TU Delft.    

    'The critical […] and the clinical […] may be destined to enter into a new relationship of mutual learning. […] In place of a dialectic which all too readily perceives the link between opposites, we should aim for a critical and clinical appraisal able to reveal the truly differential mechanisms as well as the artistic originalities.' Deleuze, 1967 

    'The ambition of Critical and Clinical Cartographies is to rethink medical and design pedagogies in the context of both Affective and Digital Turns. […] The practice of carthograpy is employed for exploring relations between the body, and the machine technologies used in medical care and architecture design, in order to map the ever-shifting thresholds between the organic and the inorganic, the innate and the acquired. The present volume affords the reader a chance to encounter diverse research trajectories in development. The Conference Proceedings, with its intricate entanglement of diverse contributions, constitutes cartography in its own right with an ambition to rethink the established theoretical frameworks.'

    With Contributions by:

    Andrej Radman, Stavros Kousoulas, Robert Alexander Gorny, Dulmini Perera, Katharina D. Martin, Halbe Hessel Kuipers, Arthur Waisblat



    Download  Critical and Clinical Cartographies


  • Chair of Architecture Theory - Footprint: The 'Bread & Butter' of Architecture

    Footprint: Delft Architecture Theory Journal.
    Issue 17 (vol. 9/2), The 'Bread & Butter’ of Architecture, Investigating Everyday Practices, Fall 2015.
    Edited by Ricardo Agarez and Nelson Mota.

    The canon of western contemporary architecture has overlooked everyday, ‘salaried’ architecture – overwhelming as it may have turned out to be in our built environment – praising instead the solo designer and his ground-breaking work. Since World War I, the social role of the architect (in terms both of his or her place in social hierarchies and of his or her contribution for social betterment) seems to have been primarily tested, and largely consolidated, in ‘departmental architecture’. Yet the work of county, city and ministerial architects, heads of department in welfare commissions, guilds and cooperatives, is seldom discussed as such: its specificity as the product of institutional initiatives and agents, as the outcome of negotiation between individual and collective agendas, remains little explored, even when authors celebrate the many public-designed projects that are part of the canon. On the other hand, commercially driven architecture and the business side of the profession are still anathema for many, despite being essential factors in the discipline’s position in society.

    Footprint 17 addresses the architectural production of those who played their part in inconspicuous offices and unexciting departments, and that contribute insights to discuss the place of the architecture of ‘bread & butter’ in architectural history studies and in the politics of architectural design and theory. This issue of Footprint explores intellectual frameworks, didactic practices, research methods and analytical instruments that project the disciplinary focus further than the work of the ‘prime mover’, discussing the relevance of ‘salaried’ architects and institutional agency in shaping the spatial and social practices of the everyday.


  • Chair of Architecture Theory - Footprint: Dynamics of Data-Driven Design

    Footprint: Delft Architecture Theory Journal.
    Issue 15 (vol. 8/2), 'Dynamics of Data-Driven Design’, Fall 2014.
    Edited by Henriette Bier and Terry Knight.

    Digital technology has introduced in the last decades data-driven representational and generative methodologies based on principles such as parametric definition and algorithmic processing. In this context, the 15th Footprint issue examines the development of data-driven techniques such as digital drawing, modelling, and simulation with respect to their relationship to design.

    The dynamics between data-driven processes and design, as well as the impact of these processes on artistic and architectural production, is addressed in 5 papers from authors with diverse backgrounds in media studies, art, and architecture. From theoretical explorations discussing cultural swarming techniques and data-driven design representation and materialisation aspects to practical (artistic and architectural) experimentation, this issue indicates the increasing convergence of computational and material systems. Furthermore, it addresses the generation of multiple, emergent results from one and the same computational representation – results that may be realized virtually at the level of design conceptualization, physically at the level of production, and even operationally at the level of artefact or building use where users or the environment contribute to the emergence of multiple physical configurations and outcomes. Data-driven design thereby establishes an unprecedented design to production to operation feedback loop.


  • Chair of Architecture Theory - Footprint: Commoning as Differentiated Publicness

    Footprint: Delft Architecture Theory Journal.
    Issue 16 (vol. 9/1), 'Commoning as Differentiated Publicness: Emerging Concepts of the Urban and Other Material Realities’, Spring 2015.
    Edited by Heidi Sohn, Stavros Kousoulas and Gerhard Bruyns.

    Contemporary commoning practices are emerging from the failure of a vast array of neoliberal systems and models. Arguably, these practices hold the potential to actualise an in-between niche, which the public and private domains alike have been unable to encompass and express. As such, they invite us to rethink the meaning of the public/private dichotomy. Commoning practices simultaneously respond and give rise to differentiated social and materials forms and relationships, which result in a variety of geopolitical ecologies and new understandings of citizenry.

    Issue 16 of Footprint offers an array of diverse insights into contemporary commoning practices. Emanating from different angles of enquiry and theoretical perspectives the articles included here investigate the question of the commons through the re-conceptualisation of different subjectivities. New understandings of the empowering potentials and latent agency of self-organised urban movements, i.e., are approached by means of in-depth analysis and critical assessment. The spectrum of possibilities opened by differentiated political practices and strategies unveil renewed types of legitimacy. Furthermore, critical evaluations of spatial initiatives display emerging socio-spatial bodies, thus questioning the role of autonomy across a spectrum of scales and thresholds of negotiation. Ultimately, the analysis of and speculation on the mechanisms of contemporary commoning re-configure urban reality through the realisation of new materialities.


  • Chair of Architecture Theory - Footprint: Future Publics: Politics and Space in East Asia’s Cities

    Footprint: Delft Architecture Theory Journal.
    Issue 12 (vol. 7/1), ' Future Publics: Politics and Space in Eas Asia's Cities’, Spring 2013.
    Edited by Gregory Bracken and Jonathan D. Solomon.

    This special issue of Footprint began life in Shanghai, with the third Annual Delft School of Design (DSD) and International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS) workshop, which was organized in conjunction with the Architecture Department of Hong Kong University (HKU) and took place in their Shanghai Study Centre in April 2011. The seven papers presented here look at issues of public space in East-Asian cities, beginning with an overview since 1945 and thereafter concentrating on cities in China, such as Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong and Nanjing, as well as a realm that is not often considered public space: urban rivers. The issue also considers the city of Bangkok, where urban design is examined as a counter public sphere.


  • Chair of Architecture Theory - Footprint: The Participatory Turn in Urbanism

    Footprint: Delft Architecture Theory Journal.
    Issue 13 (vol. 7/2), ‘The Participatory Turn in Urbanism’, Fall 2013.
    Edited by Maroš Krivý and Tahl Kaminer.

    This issue of Footprint examines the recent participatory turn in urban planning and urban design. It discusses the co-opting of participatory processes by planning departments, the systematic disregard of inequalities, and the empowering of the market resulting from the ‘anti-statism’ present in many participatory schemes. What is the relationship between the institutionalisation of participation and the practices of autonomy, self-organisation, and inclusion? When and how does genuine empowerment of collectives take place? Does the demand for the empowerment of local organisations and communities strengthen the market forces at the expense of central government? This issue attempts to problematise ‘participation’, to call attentions to some of its shortcomings, deficits, and limitations, not in order to necessarily bypass the demand for the democratisation of the urban, but in order to rectify and strengthen it.


  • Chair of Architecture Theory - Footprint: Asignifying Semiotics: Or How to Paint Pink on Pink

    Footprint: Delft Architecture Theory Journal.
    Issue 14 (vol. 8/1), ‘Asignifying Semiotics: Or How to Paint Pink on Pink’, Spring 2014.
    Edited by Deborah Hauptmann and Andrej Radman.

    This issue of Footprint examines the notion of asignifying semiotics, which plays a dominant role in contemporary capitalism and becomes indispensable in creating the very conditions for its political critique. Asignifying semiotics is not limited to the semiotics of mathematics, stock indices, money, accounting and computer codes, but includes the semiotics of music, art, architecture, film, dance, and so on. What they have in common is their repudiation of the hegemony of meta-languages. Asignifying signs do not represent or refer to an already constituted dominant reality. Rather, they simulate and pre-produce a reality that is not yet there. Existence is not already a given, it is a stake in the experimental assemblages, be they scientific, political or artistic. Deleuze and Guattari’s principle of asignifying rupture calls for relinquishing the tautological, and hence trivial effort of tracing, in favour of creative mapping. The ten articles in Footprint 14 constitute a cartography that is coextensive with the social field, no longer as mimesis but as poiesis.


  • Chair of Architecture Theory - Footprint: Architecture Culture and the Question of Knowledge: Doctoral Research Today

    Footprint: Delft Architecture Theory Journal.
    Issue 10/11 (vol. 6), ‘Architecture Culture and the Question of Knowledge: Doctoral Research Today’, Spring 2012.
    Edited by Deborah Hauptmann and Lara Schrijver.

    Over the past ten to 15 years most advanced education programmes within Schools of Architecture have been questioning the parameters and requirements of doctoral research both in terms of content and form. This double issue of Footprint was motivated by the question of where the field stands today. Footprint 10|11 presents nine contributions from both recently defended and developing PhD candidates from a variety of institutions. The diversity of their work, as well as the similarities found in the submissions, offers a partial view into research topics currently addressed in PhD programmes within Schools of Architecture.

    In addition to the nine papers by PhD researchers, we have included a paper by Andrew Leach that we believe provides an overview of the general state of contemporary architecture research. Leach makes an appeal to refrain from making all research operational. At a time when the application of research and its economic value seem to form the primary criteria for judging value, this appeal should not be taken lightly.


  • Chair of Architecture Theory - African Perspectives - [South] Africa City, Society, Space, Literature and Architecture

    African Perspectives - [South] Africa City, Society, Space, Literature and Architecture
    Editors: Gerhard Bruyns and Arie Graafland, 010 Publishers, 2012
    Delft School of Design Series on Architecture and Urbanism

    This volume of the Delft School of Design Series focuses on particular urban questions related to the South African urban context. The book seeks to construct a contemporary critical dialogue of current spatial practises and contemporary design instruments in relation to social, political and governance structures through an architectural and urban lens. A number of discourses and dialogues are included within the general debate in order to confront the trajectories of a well-known historical legacy with that of a current South African urban reality. Contributors, who include academics, urban historians, architects, policy makers, all widely published authors, share their experience, deliver analytical insights and reflect on the possible paths forward. Topics within this volume are addressed under headings of ‘Other Urbanisms’, ‘Tradition, Culture and Education’, ‘Urban Design, civic action and agency in South Africa’ and ‘Future perspectives’.

    With contributions by M. Christine Boyer, Gerhard Bruyns, Arie Graafland, Patrick Heller, Ena Jansen, Johan Lagae, Hannah Le Roux, Lesley Lokko, Iain Low, Edgar Pieterse, Abdou Maliq Simone and Aletta Steenkamp.


  • Chair of Architecture Theory - Footprint: The European Welfare State Project: Ideals, Politics, Cities and Buildings

    Footprint: Delft Architecture Theory Journal.
    Issue 9 (vol. 5/2), ‘The European Welfare State Project: Ideals, Politics, Cities and Buildings’, Autumn 2011.
    Edited by Tom Avermaete and Dirk van den Heuvel.

    This issue of Footprint is based on the conference session ‘The European Welfare State Project – Ideals, Politics, Cities and Buildings’ as organized by the editors at the first EAHN Conference in Guimarães, Portugal in 2010, and as elaborated in the second EAHN Conference in Brussels, Belgium in 2012 (together with Mark Swenarton). These sessions were proposed as part of the research programme ‘Changing Ideals – Shifting Realities’ at the TU Delft, which aims to further disclose, map and question the architectural culture of the second half of the twentieth century. It focuses on how the welfare state in Western Europe represents a unique time frame in which manifold shifts within the modernist discourse in architecture and planning were paired with societal changes that established new assemblages between producers, designers, governments, clients, builders and users. It is part of the editors’ assumption that the current crisis of capitalism puts the politics of redistribution back on the agenda. In re-investigating the vast legacy of the welfare state, it seems only natural to look for new models for collectivity, not to dwell in nostalgia, but indeed to find alternatives to suit the new situation. At the intersections of building practice, architectural viewpoints, national and local cultural contexts, a nuanced image of welfare state architecture emerges.


  • Chair of Architecture Theory - Footprint: Defying the Avant-Garde Logic: Architecture, Populism, and Mass Culture

    Footprint: Delft Architecture Theory Journal.
    Issue 8 (vol. 5/1), ‘Defying the Avant-Garde Logic: Architecture, Populism, and Mass Culture’, Spring 2011.
    Edited by Dirk van den Heuvel and Tahl Kaminer.

    This issue of Footprint focuses on the post-war years and the negotiation of architecture with an ever more advanced consumer society within the context of welfare state redistributive policies. Industrial, productivist logic is mixed in this era with the biopolitics of the emerging late-capitalist spectacle, and with the shock and awe brought about by the expanding mass-media networks.

    Many of the contributions to Footprint 8 highlight the need for an alternative to the options spelled out in the last decades in architecture – a ‘radical pragmaticism’ of sorts. Michael Müller, in his diagnostic essay in this volume, outlines the aporia of the current condition of artistic and architectural production, and Isabelle Doucet searches for a theory, while Fernando Quesada, Ross K. Elfline, and Nelson Mota contribute specific precedents of architectural trajectories that were never followed, ranging from Superstudio’s work to Siza’s Malagueira. Deborah Fausch returns to the debate between Denise Scott Brown and Kenneth Frampton in 1971; Isabelle Doucet reviews a book by architecture-activists BAVO, calling for a form of radical pragmatism instead of the polarity of ‘opposition’ and ‘appeasement’; and Maroš Krivý contributes a review of the exhibition Dreamlands at the Centre Pompidou. Consequently, the discussion of the 1960s avant-garde and mass culture leads to an understanding of the challenges contemporary architecture faces and to an outlining of concrete alternatives from the recent past.


  • Chair of Architecture Theory - Urban Asymmetries, Studies and Projects on Neoliberal Urbanization

    Urban Asymmetries, Studies and Projects on Neoliberal Urbanization
    Editors: Tahl Kaminer, Miguel Robles-Dúran, Heidi Sohn, 010 Publishers, 2011
    Delft School of Design Series on Architecture and Urbanism

    The current global economic crisis provides the perfect backdrop for reviewing the dire consequences that neoliberal urban policies have had upon the city, and for discussing possible alternatives to market-driven development. In this light Urban Asymmetries exposes the contradictions of uneven urban development as a means of providing both a substantial critique of the current urban condition and a discussion of necessary counter practices, policies and strategies for designing in such environments, and inferring that social betterment within the city is possible by strategic use of the tools available to the urbanist and to the architect. The book aims to disprove some of the prevailing disciplinary discourses in architecture and urbanism which see the city as ‘a given’ rather than as an evolving socio-historic phenomenon, and intends to challenge the ubiquitous understanding of architecture as devoid of any social transformative power.
    With contributions by David Harvey, Margit Meyer, Erik Swyngedouw, Arie Graafland and others.


  • Chair of Architecture Theory - Footprint: Drawing Theory

    Footprint: Delft Architecture Theory Journal.
    Issue 7 (vol. 4/2), ‘Drawing Theory’, Autumn 2010.
    Edited by Stefano Milani and Marc Schoonderbeek.

    The field of drawing, as practice and discourse, seems to have entered an end-condition, where the celebration of the extensive production of drawings is combined with a certain fatigue in both its understanding and reflection. Drawing, nowadays, seems to be suspended in this in-between condition of objectivity and instrumentality, as image and information, as communication and science, whereas the theoretical field generated between these polarities seems to have lost its theoretical poignancy.

    The seventh issue of Footprint attempts to address this contemporary state of affairs within a disciplinary understanding of the drawn theory of architecture. The premise of raising this issue originates from the critical exploration of a field within architectural theory that in the last decades has seen a progressive ‘de-problematization’. Even though the role of drawing is nowadays still regarded as the most common act of architecture, this understanding of drawing is hardly subject to critical inquiries, and, unfortunately, mostly limited to its instrumental role within the representation of the project.


  • Chair of Architecture Theory - Footprint: Digitally-Driven Architecture

    Footprint: Delft Architecture Theory Journal.
    Issue 6 (vol. 4/1), ‘Digitally-Driven Architecture’, Spring 2010.
    Edited by Henriette Bier and Terry Knight.

    Similar to the way that industrial fabrication with its concepts of standardisation and serial production has influenced modernist architecture, digital fabrication influences contemporary architecture: While standardisation focused on processes of rationalisation of form, mass-customisation as a new paradigm that replaces mass production, addresses non-standard, complex designs based on non-Euclidean geometries. Furthermore, knowledge about the designed object can be incorporated at the level of its connectivity with data stemming not only from its geometry but also from its content and behaviour within an environment. Digitally-driven architecture implies, therefore, on the one hand, digitally designed and fabricated architecture, and on the other hand, it implies architecture controlled and actuated by digital means.

    In this context, the sixth Footprint-issue is examining the influence of digital means on architecture as pragmatic and conceptual instruments for exploring and generating complex systems of spatial organisation as well as for constructing and actuating architecture. The focus is not only on computer-based generative systems for the development of architectural designs, but also on architecture incorporating aspects of digital sensing/actuating mechanisms that enable buildings to interact with their users and surroundings.


  • Chair of Architecture Theory - Cognitive Architecture - From Biopolitics to Noopolitics

    Cognitive Architecture - From Biopolitics to Noopolitics.
    Architecture & Mind in the Age of Communication & Information
    Editors: Deborah Hauptmann and Warren Neidich, 010 Publishers, 2010
    Delft School of Design Series on Architecture and Urbanism

    COGNITIVE ARCHITECTURE addresses the question of how evolving modalities from biopolitics to noopolitics might be mapped upon the city under contemporary conditions of urbanization and globalization. This volume is motivated by theories such as ‘cognitive capitalism' and concepts such as ‘neural plasticity' - the former indicating the mutation of labor and capital vis-à-vis the apparatuses of production within the confines of neoliberal economies and the latter the idea of mutability, transformation and the inherent potential for change within the spheres of imagination and ideology. Noo-politics, most broadly understood as a power exerted over the life of the mind, reconfiguring perception, memory and attention, also implicates potential ways and means by which the neurobiological architecture is undergoing processes of evolution and reconfiguration. This volume shows how architecture and urban processes, procedures and products commingle to form complex systems, which, in the end, help produce novel forms of networks that empower the imagination and constitute the cultural landscape.

    Cognitive Architecture rethinks the relations between form and forms of communication, which, in contemporary culture, call for a new logic of representation. Moreover, it examines the manner in which information, with its non-hierarchical and distributed format, recursive looping and self-reflexivity, is contributing both to the sculpting of brain and production of mind. Architecture and urbanism inhabit the same spaces and temporalities that characterize these new modes of relations; their presence also possesses the potential to bend and contort the very systems in which they operate. This volume brings together renowned specialists in the areas of political and aesthetic philosophy, neuroscience, socio-cultural and architecture theory, visual and spatial theorists and practitioners, and architects; the contributions elucidate original ideas for thinking the city as a framework for possible gestations of noopolitics.

    Contributors include, among others: 
Maurizio Lazzarato, John Rajchman, Sven-Olav Wallenstein, Keller Easterling, Elie During, Gabriel Rockhill, Boris Groys, Ina Blom, Lisa Blackman, Bruce Wexler, Yann Boutang, Charles Wolfe, John Protevi, among others; and architects: Philippe Raum, Andreas Angelidakis, Markus Meissen and Elizabeth Sikiaridi & Frans Vogelaar.


  • Chair of Architecture Theory - Footprint: Metropolitan Form

    Footprint: Delft Architecture Theory Journal.
    Issue 5, 'Metropolitan Form', Autumn 2009.
    Edited by François Claessens and Anne Vernez Moudon.

    The fifth issue of Footprint investigates the question of metropolitan form. The necessity to focus on the scale of metropolitan areas is manifest as this is the dominant scale of contemporary global life. The process of urbanisation and the size of urban agglomerations have dramatically increased since the last decades. These dynamics alone demand radically changed thinking about internal spatial organisation and the form of urban regions. Yet, scholarly focus at the regional level has shifted away from spatial thinking of overall form towards issues of governance, socio-economic statistics, and global networks. While these approaches provide insight into contemporary conditions, lost in translation is the question of metropolitan form: what are the characteristics of its spatio-physical structures? What are its distinguishable elements? And what are the factors that determine the transformation of form through time? By addressing the question of metropolitan form we try to extrapolate - scale-up - the research notions and methods of ‘urban morphology' from the ‘urban' to the ‘regional' scale.


  • Chair of Architecture Theory - The Model and its Architecture

    The Model and its Architecture
    Patrick Healy, 010 Publishers, 2008
    Delft School of Design Series on Architecture and Urbanism

    This study of The Model and its Architecture examines discussions in contemporary scientific practice about model making, and the philosophical arguments of Kuhn, Deleuze, Baudrillard, Nietzsche and Plato on the model, paradigm, and simulacra.
    The book examines the role of images and image-making in the foundation of knowledge and its practical implication which are then shown in contemporary architecture, with detailed analysis of some contemporary practices.
    The book also encompasses a study of spatial sensibility in pre-modern Islamic architecture, and the role of creation, process and design in the Renaissance.
    The 'mind-body-machine' triplex is examined in traditional architectural writing from Vitruvius to present day critical theory. There is a salient demonstration of the detail and depth of the Plato/Deleuze confrontation which is of such significance for the model/simulacra debate.
    The book is richly illustrated, and contains also a reference bibliography and suggestions for further study.


  • Chair of Architecture Theory - Footprint: Agency in Architecture: Reframing Criticality in Theory and Practice

    Footprint: Delft Architecture Theory Journal.
    Issue 4, 'Agency in Architecture: Reframing Criticality in Theory and Practice', Spring 2009.
    Edited by Isabelle Doucet and Kenny Cupers, DSD.

    Whether critiquing the architect's societal position and the role of the user, conceptualising the performative dimension of the architectural object, or considering the effects of theory for architecture at large, current debates in architecture intersect in the notion of agency. As fundamental as it is often taken for granted, this notion forms the keystone of this issue, inviting contributors to rethink architecture's specificity, its performance, and its social and political relevance. Agency in architecture inevitably entails questioning the relation between theory and practice, and what it might mean to be critical - both inside and outside architecture - today. The main proposal is to rethink contemporary criticality in architecture, by explicating the notion of agency in three major directions: first, ‘the agency of what?' or the question of multiplicity and relationality; second, ‘how does it work?', a question referring to location, mode and vehicle; and third, ‘to what effect?', bringing up the notion of intentionality.

    Each of the contributions to this issue throws a new light onto one or more of these questions. In the form of an interview, Scott Lash, Antoine Picon and Margaret Crawford probe the theoretical implications of agency as a notion for architecture. Pep Avilés disentangles, in his analysis of Italian neorealist architecture, the multiplicity of historical agents shaping its discourse. Sebastian Haumann examines the intersection of aesthetic concern and political agency in Venturi and Scott Brown's project for South Street in Philadelphia. Emphasising the pertinence of transdisciplinarity to contemporary practice, Rolf Hughes develops the notion of ‘transverse epistemologies' that is implied by it. Inspired by contemporary sociology, Robert Cowherd proposes a ‘reflexive turn' in architecture as a reply to the ‘post-critics'. Gevork Hartoonian reconsiders Brutalist architecture for contemporary practice, arguing that the theme of agency in architecture is tectonic in nature. Against the internalisation of architectural discourse, Tatjana Schneider and Jeremy Till posit the notion of spatial agency, as it is evoked by alternative forms of practice. Three review articles, by Lara Schrijver, 'The Agency' Group, and Tahl Kaminer, demonstrate ideological rifts in the current debate. Issue's editors: Isabelle Doucet and Kenny Cupers


Selected Publications

  • Chair of Architecture Theory

    • 2013

    • Footprint: Delft Architecture Theory Journal.
      Issue 3, ‘Architecture and Phenomenology’, Autumn, 2008.
      Edited by P. Healy & B. O’Byrne, DSD.
      With this the special issue of Footprint the question of the relation of philosophy and architecture, and the significance of phenomenology for architectural practice and discourse is broadly surveyed. Individually, and overall, the articles provide reflections and arguments on topics of space, location, place, architectural practice, meaning in architecture, and on the impact of phenomenology as a philosophical form of enquiry throughout.
      Stephen Read in his paper, written out of a post-phenomenological perspective associated with the work of Don Idhe, provides the basis for a new reading of Heidegger on tools and the relation of the social and the technological. A similar concern can be seen in the paper of David Kirshner, ‘Tools: Stuff: Art'. The discourse about space emerges in architecture only towards the end of the nineteenth century, and Leslie Kavanaugh's groundbreaking study on Brentano on space provides rich context for this turn in architectural discourse towards ‘space'. Susan Herrington and Anne Bordeleau in different ways look at the problems of constituted meanings for architecture, predominantly within the French phenomenological tradition.
      Michael Lazarin and Akkelies van Nes bring forward the deepening and continuing response to the work of Heidegger, through an original and new study of Norberg Schulz, and in Lazarin's rich considerations of the contexts and sources of poetic dwelling in Japanese buildings. Randall Teal furthers the interest in the study of topology, of such concern to Hubert Dreyfus and Jeff Malpas, in the reading of the late work of Heidegger. Working as an artist and sculptor Jasper Coppes has contributed a meditative and detailed response to phenomenological ideas around place, which is of some significance for thinking about the problem of ‘domain' in architecture. Keane and Selinger look at the work of Arakawa and Gins to demonstrate the fruitfulness of phenomenology for artistic practice and new concepts of the production of space. >>
    • Footprint: Delft Architecture Theory Journal.
      Issue 2: ‘Mapping Urban Complexity in an Asian Context’, Spring, 2008.
      Edited by G. Bracken & H. Sohn, Delft School of Design.
      The second issue of Footprint aims at reuniting two themes which are receiving a great deal of attention in recent times: Asia’s extraordinary urban growth, and the problématique of mapping highly complex urban environments. The 21st century, forecasted by many as the ‘Pacific Century’, brings to the fore the region's economic, social, political and cultural changes, wide-ranging in their manifestation and far-reaching in their consequence. All of these factors are inscribed in the urban environment. In a region where a population of one million constitutes a small settlement and mega-cities such as Tokyo and Shanghai have come to dominate the global network, sheer size is itself an important issue and not just in practical terms. Then there is the apparent chaos that is actually a delicately balanced autopoeisis in cities such as Mumbai, as well as the interesting and potentially useful city-state model of Hong Kong. These conditions and rising phenomena bring important questions on the potentials and relevance of mapping to the fore. The nine contributors to this issue take these questions as their point of departure, and set out to explore some of the region’s most important or complex cities. Urban China is covered by Ruan’s interesting overview of this country’s frenzied economic boom, which he claims is ephemeral; Visser’s attempt to map Beijing –‘the ungovernable city’- poses timely critical questions; Qiang’s analysis of the evolution of Beijing’s movement network and the effects it has on urban function; Arkaraprasertkul’s investigation of Shanghai’s Pudong, as well as it’s older lilong; Karandinou & Koutsoumpos’ thought-provoking and beautifully rendered mapping project of Shanghai’s ‘other’ river, the Suzhou; Bhatia’s examination of Shanghai’s transforming housing typologies; Solomon’s investigation of the development of Hong Kong, particularly Victoria Harbour. Moving further east, Tokyo’s complexity is explored in Lucas’s short paper with a series of architectural drawings and movement notations exposing the act of inscription as a method of urban enquiry. And finally, Shannon’s informative and thorough mapping exercise of cities and landscapes in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. >>
    • 2008

    • Footprint: Delft Architecture Theory Annual
      Issue 1: ‘Trans-disciplinary’, Autumn, 2007.
      Edited by T. Kaminer & L. Stanek, Delft School of Design
      This inaugural issue of Footprint aims at understanding today’s architecture culture as a negotiation between two antithetical definitions of architecture’s identity. The belief in the disciplinary singularity of architectural objects, irreducible to the conditions of their production, is confronted - in discourse and design - with the perception of architecture as an interdisciplinary mediation between multiple political, economic, social, technological and cultural factors. With the concept of trans-disciplinarity, the negotiation between these two positions is investigated here as an engine of the ‘tradition of the present’ of contemporary architecture - the discourses and designs which emerged in the 1960s and defined orientation points for today’s architectural thought and practice. The contributions to this issue of Footprint include Wouter Davidts’ analysis of architectural design and discourse as a condition for art; Michael Hays’ examination of narrative as a form of understanding the object of architecture within the forces which it reflects and opposes; Patrick Healy’s reconstruction of Max Raphael’s project of an empirical theory of art and architecture; Mark Jarzombek’s questioning of architecture as a philosophical project; Ákos Moravánszky’s mapping of the multiple interchanges between theory, design, history and education of architecture; Jean-Louis Violeau’s account of the collaborations between architects and sociologists on architectural research in France since the late 1960s >>
    • 2007

    • Spacefighter: The evolutionary city (game) - MVRDV/DSD - in collaboration with BERLAGE INSTITUTE, MIT and cThrough
      W Maas, A. Graafland, C Pinilla, A van Bilsen and B. Batstra, Actar Press, 2007
      Delft School of Design Series on Architecture and Urbanism The Spacefighter is a cooperation of DSD together with Winy Maas. The project stems from the former project of The Thinktank; Problems & Perspectives and from MVRDV's Region Maker; Planning, politics and urban development. We don‘t know exactly when technological innovations will happen. When did we imagine that we could fly? Whoever thought it was possible to directly communicate? For centuries the speed of communication was limited by the travelling speed of the messenger holding this message. And all of a sudden “instant” communication and trade were possible in the second half of the 19th century. When did we think the computer would appear, when the internet, when wireless connections, etcetera? Yet there are models or suggestive scenarios for technological innovation: in moments of scarcity certain innovations can be imagined; in extrapolations of ‘demands’, new technologies can be suggested. Different societal models can lead to different approaches of technological changes: from ignoring, protecting to facilitating. >>
    • 2006

    • Crossover: Architecture, Urbanism & Technology
      Editors: Arie Graafland & Leslie Jaye Kavanaugh, 010 Publishers, 2006
      Delft School of Design Series on Architecture and Urbanism
      Crossover is the very first publication by the Delft School of Design (DSD), a laboratory for research and experimentation in architecture, urbanism and technologies of construction at the TU Delft. Its investigations cover a wide variety of subjects, from theoretical considerations and historical studies to urban and architectural practices and contemporary structural design. What they all have in common is the emerging condition of architectural and urban knowledge in both the academic context and professional practice. Since its inception in 2004, the DSD has developed a strategy or field of inquiry for mapping new means of approaching the complexity of the contemporary urban and architectural conditions. Traditional approaches are seen to be increasingly inadequate in the face of this complexity. This is in part due to the nature of the information age. Yet, on the other hand, new technologies offer us the challenge and the potential to represent our world in unprecedented ways. Contributions include over 30 papers by TU Faculty of Architecture members and international writers and practitioners such as George Baird, M. Christine Boyer, Joan Busquets, Kees Christiaanse, Wouter Davidts, Chris Dercon, Hal Foster, Kari Jormakka, Vittorio Magnago Lampugnani, Lars Lerup, Ákos Moravánsky, Anne Vernez Moudon, Michael Müller, Alberto Pérez-Gómez, Nikos A. Salingaros, Kelly Shannon, Philip Ursprung and Frank R. Werner. >>
    • De-/signing the Urban: Techno-genesis and the Urban Image
      Editors: Gerhard Bruyns and Patrick Healy, 010 Publishers, 2006
      Delft School of Design Series on Architecture and Urbanism
      This book represents the fruits of a year-long forum held at the Delft School of Design (DSD), a laboratory for research and experimentation in architecture, urbanism and technologies of construction at the TU Delft. The papers in this collection are by renowned visiting scholars, faculty members, and doctoral candidates who contributed to workshops, seminars and lectures given within a guiding framework entitled 'forms and relations'. They address issues which have come to increasingly shift our understanding of architecture and urbanism. Their authors offer insight on urban processes and the aesthetic challenge for contemporary design in relation to image, technology and life sciences. In many of these contributions case studies link arms with debates on critique and praxis. Topics include the structure of the network city in terms of temporal manipulations; new frameworks for understanding the ecologies of urban communities as exemplified in a case study on Istanbul; the virtual emergence and resilience of contemporary urban place in the context of Beijing; the practice of the 'production of space' detailed with a study of Nowa Huta, Poland, a post-Communist city; a phenomenological account of habitat and the urban body presented in relation to Bogotá; and new approaches to the mapping and diagramming of cities developed from various perspectives. Several essays put into question principal arguments regarding the forms of material things and examine how the philosophies of forms have shaped aesthetic theory and scientific understanding within the disciplines of architecture and urbanism. Contributions include papers by DSD faculty and researchers, as well as international scholars such as Karsten Harries, M. Christine Boyer and Viktor Kittlausz. >>
    • The Body in Architecture
      Editors: Deborah Hauptmann, 010 Publishers, 2006
      Delft School of Design Series on Architecture and Urbanism
      Issues surrounding the human body, with its intellectual and sensory capacities are recurring themes in architecture theory. Central to the project of humanism was the organizing of the body, its most spectacular achievement being the creation of a mathematics of seeing for the eye through perspective. Consequently, architectural discourse has dealt with a static concept of the body, an ideal 'whole', for which sensory and intellectual capacities do not correspond to present-day research in the sciences and aesthetic theories. Departing from these traditional notions, the theoretical disposition of the collection posits that in a contemporary reading on the very notion of 'body' it is necessary to understand that there are many bodies: individual, collective, mystical, corporate, institutional, animal, even the prosthetic body and the ethological body made up of movements of slowness and speed.
      The Body in Architecture presents a collection of both theoretical essays and architecture, urban & film based projects. The projects presented in the collection advance new ways of envisaging the city ranging from analytic apparatuses of viewing to design experimentations. The section on film presents innovative interpretations of forms and relations which, in one example, mediates multiple and fluctuating perspectives of space and, in another case, works experimentally through the use of film-making procedures along with more traditional means of architectural representations to plot time-space relations through the mechanism of the 'camera eye'. Contributions include over a dozen theoretical texts by DSD faculty and researchers and international scholars, practitioners and artists such as M. Christine Boyer, Karsten Harries, Anthony Vidler, Warren Neidich, Michael Muller, Scott Lash and an interview with Rem Koolhaas; and nine project contributions from among others, Stefano Boeri and the video artist Dryden Goodwin. >>