We are a group of emerging and established scholars in the architectural humanities that explores a wide range of topics and problems in contemporary architectural theory and architectural history.
The academic activities of this large group are focused around four broad areas:
We use methods drawn from both the humanities and design. Through regular seminars, workshops and discussions we provide opportunities for scholarly exchange, development and doctoral training in these fields.
In July 2019 Professor Andrew Leach and Associate Professor Lee Stickells will convene a joint meeting of the European Architectural History Network (EAHN) and the Society of Architectural Historians, Australia and New Zealand (SAHANZ) at the University of Sydney. This will be the first time these two organisations have cooperated in staging an academic meeting, and it promises to be a lively and illuminating event. Find out more.
In July 2019, Dr Jennifer Ferng hosted three episodes as part of the EAHN/SAHANZ Conference.
Architecture and Global Curriculum
Dr Jennifer Ferng speaks with Professor Mark Jarzombek and Professor Jaky Troy about the challenges in creating university curriculum that encompasses the contributions of many countries and peoples. They discuss the importance of first societies and first nations, the role of vernacular examples of architecture, and try to define what the global means for the 21st century. Jarzombek and Troy share some of their experiences from places around the world and explain how they try to bring these sites - archaeological, architectural, and living – to the attention of the public. Listen to the podcast.
Architecture and Energy
Dr Jennifer Ferng speaks with Associate Professor Daniel Barber from the University of Pennsylvania about the modernist principles behind the Bauhaus, its legacy, and how energy efficiency has changed how architects deal with renovations and regulations around cultural heritage. Innovations in heating systems often lagged behind the aesthetic principles that determined buildings like the Bauhaus Dessau. The performance of modernist structures remains incompatible with what we view now as contemporary standards of energy conservation. Architects must sometimes choose between preservation strategies and contemporary methods that reduce energy consumption. Listen to the podcast.
Dr Jennifer Ferng speaks with Professor Vikram Prakash and Professor Julie Willis about the Encyclopedia of Australian architecture, national identity, and the obstacles to capturing selected moments of history. Prakash and Willis speak about the tensions between the national and the global. They share personal experiences about how they each came to study Australian architecture and India’s architecture as well as how their roles in universities have come to shape their trajectories as academics and intellectual leaders. Listen to the podcast.
Funding source: 2018, Harvard/Villa I Tatti
Researcher: Professor Andrew Leach
This project concerns the literature and sources for the mid-20th century construction of architectural mannerism and mannerism’s part in the mid-century emergence of architectural history as a distinct field of inquiry. The research will investigate writing on architectural mannerism up to 1950, including Colin Rowe’s influential essay, Mannerism and Modern Architecture, on which later works, such as Bruno Zevi’s treatment of Michelangiolo architetto (1964) and Robert Venturi’s Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture (1966), rely. The project aims to consider how mannerism has been understood within the history of modern architectural culture and will reflect on the disciplinary implications of the study of mannerism for architectural history.
Funding source: 2017–18, Social Science Research Council
Researcher: Dr Jennifer Ferng
This project poses the question: how can we understand offshore detention centres against the context of humanitarian ethics and the architect’s mandate of building humane shelter, which has been compromised by border politics? The global detention industrial complex, with its prefabricated buildings, conflicts with the architect’s duties of creating accessible shelter, and demonstrates how offshore processing sites are problematic for humanitarian ethics. The research aims to answer this question, using the history of architecture and the built environment to shed light on contemporary political situations in Oceania and Southeast Asia; specifically the Pacific Solution and Operation Sovereign Borders. It also aims to offer commentary about the interventions of Western countries, such as Australia, in the economic and political regimes of poorer countries like Papua New Guinea, Nauru, and Cambodia.
Funding source: 2016–19, Australian Research Council
Researchers: Dr Andrew Saniga, Professor Philip Goad, Associate Professor Hannah Lewi (University of Melbourne), Professor Robert Freestone (UNSW), Dr Cameron Logan, Dr Susan Holden (UQ) and Associate Professor Christine Garnaut (UniSA)
This interdisciplinary project aims to examine the post-World War Two evolution of the modern university campus and its application for innovative solutions in urban planning, architecture and landscape.
Researchers have identified campuses as important catalysts for urban thinking in the 20th century. We are working on developing strategies for the conservation and adaptation of campuses to meet future needs in the tertiary sector. This includes digital visualisation and detailed case studies to reveal both the physical impacts and the political, institutional, social and cultural resonance of educational expansion.
Funding source: 2017, State Library of New South Wales
Researcher: Associate Professor Lee Stickells
This project aims to explore interactions between architecture and the counterculture of the 1960s and 70s, which proposed revolutionary and alternative ways to live, work and love. It will highlight the ways in which alternative communities in Northern New South Wales forged sustainable living during the 70s, where, beyond shelter, building was a means to materialise ideals of communal living, ecological harmony, independence from the state, individual creative expression and alternative economies. The project will extend and enrich historical understanding of the Australian counterculture and will reflect on experiments in sustainable design and living for self-sufficiency and low environmental impact; ideas that still resonate today.
Funding source: 2013–16, Australian Research Council
This project aims to explore the role of architecture in configuring, influencing and expressing the ideas and ideals of contemporary experimental science. The project has established a novel methodology that combines critical and theoretical tools with analysis of three-dimensional graphics to enable exploration of the architecture of biomedical sciences.
The project has thus far produced the journal article Exaptive Translations between Biology and Architecture in ARQ: Architectural Research Quarterly, 18(2), as well as two book chapters, 'Amorphous Continua' in Andrej Radman and Heidi Sohn’s edited volume Critical and Clinical Cartographies: Architecture, Robotics, Medicine, Philosophy published by Edinburgh University Press and 'Laboratory architecture and the deep membrane of science' in Katie Lloyd Thomas, Tilo Amhoff and Nick Beech’s edited volume Industries of Architecture, published by Routledge.
Funding source: 2012–16, Australian Research Council
Researcher: Professor Andrew Leach
This recently completed project reviewed the rapid growth of the Gold Coast since the 1960s, the forces that shaped it, the diminishing status of architectural ideas in the city, and the absence of architectural theory within that rapid growth. Two major books will result from this research: an architectural history of a city that appears to set architecture aside, and an intellectual history of architectural theory since the 1960s. It has resulted in a number of new publications on the subject, including the report GC30+, the edited volume Off the Plan (CSIRO, 2016) and the forthcoming volume Gold Coast: City and Architecture (Lund Humphries, 2018).