Sheila Crane, ‘Algerian Socialism and the Architecture of Autogestion’
Jury's comments: This is a brilliant analysis of a particular aspect of architecture in post-revolutionary Algeria, one in which the government policy of autogestion (self-management) was transferred and re-imagined in architectural terms. Crane offers a nuanced and carefully argued discussion of this fascinating if brief moment when architectural projects, debates and writing worked in synchrony with the politics of independence in order to un-shackle Algeria from the practices of the colonial era and its economic dependence on France. The article focuses on the theory of Abderrahman Bouchama, relating it to the work of a number of other Algerian architects who were doing (necessarily) experimental and ephemeral work galvanising users in active participation with architectural design. Of particular interest here is the way that Crane brings her arguments to bear in relation to the theoretical framework of provincializing Marxist architectural theory. Crane attends to the shifting alliances as well as the contradiction between architectural production and political ideology. Carefully contextualised and lucidly expounded, this is by any measure a substantial contribution to architectural histories of the post-colonial world.
Andreas W. Putz for ‘Housing Paul and Paula: Building repair and Urban Renewal in the German Democratic Republic’
Jury's comments: Andreas Putz’s article considerably advances our understanding of architecture and reconstruction in post-war East Germany. Focussing on the repair of buildings, and the re- direction of the construction industry and its technologies to this end, Putz shows how by these techniques architects not only advanced urban renewal but also how they brought historic forms back into circulation in new economic circumstances. The article adroitly juggles fascinating detail and many relevant contexts, helping us understand better how repair and re-appropriation were also a part of making the socialist world.
Best article by a young scholar 2020
Rixt Woudstra for ‘Exhibiting Reform: MoMA and the Display of Public Housing (1932 1939)’
Jury's comments: Still a PhD student at the time of the publication of this article, Rixt Woudstra has produced a substantial new account of MoMA’s commitment to housing reform in the New Deal era of the 1930s. We can now understand much better how this social project of architecture, supposedly marginalised by MoMA’s International Style interests, was interwoven with formal interests, even as it was subsequently treated as separate. Not only was it closely aligned with the policies of government and housing organisations it also, Woudstra argues, continued to offer a different set of architectural values, if shorn of their implications for architecture more generally.
Jury’s comments: This article offers an innovative interpretation of the history of the post-war new towns in France (which is still not that well known in Anglosaxon contexts), by focusing on the role of the so-called ‘Géography Volontaire’ – volitional geography, as Cupers translates the term. This is a school within French postwar geography which aimed at formulating directives for spatial planning a and urbanism, and which has thus far been neglected as a formative influence on the construction of theVilles Nouvelles.
The author competently analyses the impact of this school, not shying away from a politically informed and critical discussion that also addresses the relationship between capitalist political economy and planning on a territorial scale. The writing is very convincing and the argument very well constructed. In dealing with this period of enlightened territorial planning, the article is moreover pertinent for topics that architects and urbanists are dealing with today, such as sustainable cities, medium density tissues, and the like. For all these reasons, the committee is happy to bestow this award upon Kenny Cupers and congratulates him with this achievement.
Honorary mention 2018
Jury’s comments: This paper is an excellent example of the focus on traveling and its impact on architecture, bridging the spheres of perception and reception. It discusses the various interpretations of British gentlemen-architects and -travelers who encountered the Baroque churches of Rome during their Grand Tour in the 17thand 18thcentury. Morel offers us a new angle of interpretation, by framing these interpretations in relation to a theme of lasting consequence: the connection between ethics and aesthetics. The article is well-constructed, uses a wealth of material and is the result of well-conducted research.
Jury’s comments: This is an inspiring article addressing interesting and diverse source material focusing on critical regionalism. It offers an alternate reading to the impact of the 1980 Venice Biennale and the celebration of postmodernism, by focusing on the viewpoint of Kenneth Frampton and his interactions with the work and the ideas of Suzana and Dimitris Antonakakis, whose visit of the Venice Biennale is documented and discussed. The article thus ponders the mediation between historical constructs and experiences of practice, providing a multifaceted and very elegant approach of authorship.
Jury’s comments: This beautifully written article deals with a very interesting topic: the various official descriptions of the John Soane Museum, beginning with the one authored by Soane himself and comparing this with the subsequent editions of the curators of the museum, in order to prepare visitors for what they would encounter. The paper opens up a wealth of source material and engages with the articulation between textual sources and the construction of experience. This paper thus is exemplary of the turn toward the built and the experiential; it focuses on the mediation of experience by written text and images; and highlights how this mediation changes due to technological and cultural transformations.
Jury’s comments: This is a great article, very well written, an elegant narrative interweaving primary (archival) and secondary (contemporary) sources on a surprising topic, which is not yet treated in a thorough way. The article relies on skillful and astute analysis, opens up new sources and new research questions, and is very well informed theoretically. It is of interest to a wide range of scholars, including curators and museum historiographers.
Jury’s comments: This article is very rich in visual interpretation and theoretical references, combining the analysis of specific drawings with broadly cast theoretical understandings about the nature of a crowd and its representaton. Through the intensive scrutiny of graphics as primary materials and evidence, the author recognizes the importance of drawing techniques, while also contextualising this material in terms of political theory. It is a bit strange that the analysis does not rely more heavily on Russian language sources.
Jury’s comments: The importance of the article lies in its innovative approach of a major issue in design and construction – the entasis of a classical column (whose radius diminishes from the base to the top). Thanks to an intelligent use of digital data, the exact measurements of the Pantheon columns are compared with the column construction drawing recently found at Didyma, and the team was able to convincingly argue for a specific construction method. The article is based upon an earlier publication in German, which contained a less thorough analysis of the same data.