Monday, May 23, 2011

Alt History

More announcements of activities elsewhere. The first of these is an extended essay/mini book entitled A Secret History of Architecture, part of a series published by the Academy of Architecture and Urban Studies in Nuremburg. My contribution draws on previous posts on this site about the history of Do It Yourself manuals and interior design hand books. The essay suggests that these books - found in various junk shops and libraries over the years - form a kind of parallel history of architecture, an unofficial version of events that reveals changes in how we live. Disko 25: A Secret History of Architecture will be available in a couple of months time as part of a set of five or six other booklets.  My thanks to Silvan Linden for the invitation to contribute and for his patience while I worked out what to write about.

Along with my fellow FAT colleagues and one Charles Jencks, I have co-edited an upcoming edition of Architectural Design revisiting the thorny issue of Post Modernism. Entitled Radical Post Modernism, it revisits that much derided movement, suggesting that instead of the hoary, fake-pedimented pantomime villain of popular derision, Po Mo actually contains a latent criticality, a set of under-explored tactics and methodologies. Another kind of secret history then or, at least, an unofficial version of a very familiar one.

As well as helping to edit the issue, I've contributed an individual essay called Questions of Taste. This explores similar issues to the Secret History booklet, but from a more explicitly political point of view. The question of the title is approached via the issue of class and draws on the work of Pierre Bourdieu and Michel de Certeau as well as Venturi Scott Brown and Herbert Gans.