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Special Collection

Resilience in Architectural History

Collection launched: 12 Jun 2019

Originally developed in the ecological circles of the 1970s that pursued critical alternatives to the modernist worldview, the concept of ‘resilience’ has pervaded 21st-century thought, from psychology to political theory, and from planning to architecture. In most of its current guises, it has been used in positivist and future-oriented frames of thinking that limit it to an aspired benchmark for managing crises and withstanding catastrophic events. This Special Collection attempts to recuperate the overlooked potential of ‘resilience’ by asking whether its introduction in architectural history can transform current disciplinary practices. In their articles, the contributing authors revisit buildings that have been reused and transformed to withstand change over the centuries. Adopting the long-term perspective of ‘resilience’, they examine these physical objects as carriers of multiple layers of interventions, re-evaluate their architects’ and users’ intentions and reconsider their place in architectural history. In many cases, ‘resilience’ offers a novel historiographical perspective that unveils long-standing conceptual schemata which still condition the historians’ interpretation of the past. In the final instance, ‘resilience’ illuminates the deep-seated modernist dichotomy between ‘innovation’ and ‘tradition’ in architectural history. It offers a significant alternative to 21st-century architectural historians’ established views on modernity that are still embedded in their thought and practice.