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The Figure of Knowledge

Conditioning Architectural Theory, 1960s - 1990s

Sebastiaan Loosen (Editor), Rajesh Heynickx (Editor), Hilde Heynen (Editor),

Category: Architecture and Urban Planning

Language: English

ISBN: 9789462702240

Publication date: September 30, 2020

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Number of pages: 321

Size: 234 x 156 x 17 mm

Guaranteed Peer Reviewed Content

Funded by: KU Leuven Fund for Fair Open Access

Stock item: 137673

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Category: Architecture and Urban Planning

Language: English

ISBN: 9789461663238

Publication date: September 30, 2020

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Number of pages: 321

Guaranteed Peer Reviewed Content

Funded by: KU Leuven Fund for Fair Open Access

Category: Architecture and Urban Planning

Language: English

DOI: 10.11116/9789461663221

ISBN: 9789461663221

Publication date: September 30, 2020

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Number of pages: 321

Guaranteed Peer Reviewed Content

Funded by: KU Leuven Fund for Fair Open Access


Critical historiography of architectural theory

It is a major challenge to write the history of post-WWII architectural theory without boiling it down to a few defining paradigms. An impressive anthologising effort during the 1990s charted architectural theory mostly via the various theoretical frameworks employed, such as critical theory, critical regionalism, deconstructivism, and pragmatism.

Yet the intellectual contours of what constitutes architectural theory have been constantly in flux. It is therefore paramount to ask what kind of knowledge has become important in the recent history of architectural theory and how the resulting figure of knowledge sets the conditions for the actual arguments made.

The contributions in this volume focus on institutional, geographical, rhetorical, and other conditioning factors. They thus screen the unspoken rules of engagement that postwar architectural theory ascribed to.

Contributors: Matthew Allen (University of Toronto), Karen Burns (University of Melbourne), Ole W. Fischer (University of Utah), Philip Goad (University of Melbourne), Hilde Heynen (KU Leuven), Rajesh Heynickx (KU Leuven), Paul Holmquist (Louisiana State University), Sandra Kaji-O’Grady (University of Queensland), Peter Lang (Royal Institute of Art, Stockholm), André Loeckx (KU Leuven), Sebastiaan Loosen (KU Leuven), Louis Martin (Université du Québec à Montréal), Joan Ockman (University of Pennsylvania), Carmen Popescu (ENSAB, Rennes), Ricardo Ruivo (Architectural Association, London), Andrew Toland (University of Technology Sydney).

Ebook available in Open Access.
This publication is GPRC-labeled (Guaranteed Peer-Reviewed Content).

Listen to an interview with Sebastiaan Loosen, Rajesh Heynickx, and Hilde Heynen at New Books Network:

The Shifting Contours of Postwar Architectural Theory
Sebastiaan Loosen, Rajesh Heynickx, and Hilde Heynen

SECTION 1: Modernism and its Discontents

Meaning and Effect: Revisiting Semiotics in Architecture
André Loeckx and Hilde Heynen

A Voice from the Margins: Robin Boyd and 1960s Architecture Culture
Philip Goad

Contaminations: Art, Architecture, and the Critical Vision of Lara-Vinca Masini
Peter Lang

Architecture Becomes Programming: Invisible Technicians, Printouts, and Situated Theories in the 1960s
Matthew Allen

Troubled Dialogues: Intellectuality at a Crossroads at the Carrefour de l’Europe in Brussels
Sebastiaan Loosen

SECTION 2: Projects of Theory

Institutionalized Critique? On the Re(birth) of Architectural Theory after Modernism: ETH and MIT Compared
Ole W. Fischer

Thinking Architecture, its Theory and History: A Case Study about Melvin Charney
Louis Martin

Dirtying the Real: Liane Lefaivre and the Architectural Stalemate with Emerging Realities
Andrew Toland

Between Making and Acting: The Inherent Ambivalence of Arendtian Architectural Theory
Paul Holmquist

Critical Regionalism: A not so Critical Theory
Carmen Popescu

SECTION 3: The Misuses of History

The Historiographical Invention of the Soviet Avant-Garde: Cultural Politics and the Return of the Lost Project
Ricardo Ruivo

Effete, Effeminate, Feminist: Feminizing Architecture Theory
Sandra Kaji-O’Grady

Anthologizing Post-Structuralism: Architecture Ecriture, Gender, and Subjectivity
Karen Burns

Consequences of Pragmatism: A Retrospect on “The Pragmatist Imagination”
Joan Ockman

A Discipline in the Making
Hilde Heynen

Sebastiaan Loosen

Sebastiaan Loosen is a postdoctoral researcher at the KTH Stockholm.

Rajesh Heynickx

Rajesh Heynickx is intellectual historian at KU Leuven, Faculty of Architecture.

Hilde Heynen

Hilde Heynen is professor of architectural theory and history at KU Leuven.

“le livre offre une vision précise et ample, à la fois érudite et accessible, de l’histoire intellectuelle de l’architecture de ces décennies de bascule, dont les années 1960 constituent le point d’orgue, qui virent les architectes partir à la reconquête de leur statut d’intellectuel. […] ‘The Figure of Knowledge: Conditioning Architectural Theory, 1960s-1990s’ montre, si besoin était, qu’il est possible, pour peu d’agir avec méthode, d’écrire l’histoire d’une matière aussi intangible que la pensée architecturale.“

Eléonore Marantz, Critique d’art, URL: ; DOI:

Combined, 'The Figure of Knowledge' and 'Choosing Architecture' make visible the state of architecture theory today. Even though architecture theory is no longer advanced by polemical manifestos, it remains present in other forms. Either in conversations or design reviews, readings or anthologies, architecture theory continues to reveal and reflect on architecture’s entanglement with historical, societal, cultural and economic concerns. Thinking about architecture remains crucial. - Sergio M. Figueiredo, Archined, 17.05.21,

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