Call for articles – Revue CLARA Architecture/Recherche Journal – Architectural Criticism and Public Debate

The yearly journal CLARA Architecture/Recherche, and the guest editors Hélène Jannière (Université Rennes 2) and Paolo Scrivano (Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University), invite submissions of papers around the theme of « Architectural Criticism and Public Debate » for CLARA’s 5th volume, to be published in 2018.

This thematic section of CLARA Architecture/Recherche Journal’s forthcoming issue Journal is centered on the relationship between architectural criticism and the notion of “public opinion”, the “public realm”, and on architectural criticism conceived as an autonomous discourse, internal to architectural theories and history. The volume aims to publish articles that do not consider criticism merely as a body of historical, theoretical or philosophical texts on architecture, but rather as a discipline encompassing diverse protagonists, media, and international exchanges. By posing this hypothesis, the issue seeks to challenge existing concepts related to the reception of architecture in the specialized or public debate seen as a mere passive “reflection” of the building or project.

In the editors’ view, it is crucial to address the theme of architectural criticism and public debate in order to clarify the definitions of criticism and better understand the overlapping boundaries between criticism per se and other types of writings and discourses on architecture and the built environment. Criticism, historically defined as a literary genre and as a form of judgment, is bound up with the emergence during the 18th century of a space for public discussion, as the publication in 1959 of Reinhart Koselleck’s Kritik und Krise made evident. Since the 1980s, art historians or specialists in aesthetics have noted the coincidence between the development of art criticism and the emergence of a space for public debate, the latter conceived in Habermasian terms. Similarly, Richard Wittman (Architecture, Print Culture, and the Public Sphere in Eighteenth-Century France, 2007) grounded his analysis of the formation of a “public discourse on architecture” precisely in the concept of public sphere. Several other scholars have discussed the interactions between art discourse and the public sphere. Can a similar debate be transposed to the realm of architecture? And does the intersection with the public sphere tend to disappear once criticism is intended as a disciplinary discourse, mostly relying on architectural history and theories?

This thematic issue intends to address the following questions:

1. The frontiers of architectural criticism

Does architectural criticism share themes, protagonists and medias with the public debate or does it maintain an almost exclusive relation to the professional or the academic spheres? If the latter is the case, does architectural criticism pertain to an autonomous disciplinary discourse or does it refer to extra-disciplinary concepts? Provided the changeable nature of its autonomy, to what extent does architectural criticism remain separated from social uses, architectural design practices and economic production?

2. Architectural criticism and its public

Can architectural criticism aimed at general audiences be separated from criticism geared towards a specialized public? Is it possible to identify a relation between types of publication (daily newspapers, cultural magazines, political journals, professional periodicals, etc.) and the statuses of the critical discourse? To what extent do these publications and their target readerships influence or create specific forms of criticism?

The relation between architectural criticism and public opinion can be variously discussed, for example through its connection to the judgment and to the criteria of evaluation of architecture, as well as through its association to the so-called “crisis” of criticism. Proposed articles may investigate the means by which critics intend to reach various layers of public and how they connect their discourse to those layers. They may also examine the part of the discourse on “architectural judgment” in the debates on architectural criticism. Finally, the editors of this issue encourage the submission of articles that put under scrutiny the relation between “crisis” and criticism, by placing criticism in selected historical moments and specific cultural conditions.

Submissions of full articles are to be submitted through the journal website’s online submission system.


Deadline : 15th October 2017

online Submissions : http://clararevue.ulb.be/

Perspective authors are however welcome to contact the guest editors (helene.janniere[at]univ-rennes2.fr;paolo.scrivano[at]xjtlu.edu.cn) and/or the journal’s editor-in-chief (axel.fisher[at]ulb.ac.be) prior to submission to discuss the pertinence of their proposals up to August 31st 2017.


Guest Editors:

First trained as an architect, Hélène Jannière received a PhD (1999) and obtained a Thesis of Habilitation (2011) both in Art History. She has been teaching History of Architecture and Town Planning in French architectural schools from 1994 to 2012, namely at the École nationale supérieure d’architecture de Paris-La Villette. Since 2012, she is Professor of contemporary architectural history at Rennes 2 University. In 2001, she has been the recipient of a fellowship from the Canadian Centre for Architecture. Her main research domain is architectural criticism and 20th-century architectural periodicals. After having extensively published on the subject of architectural magazines of the 1920s and 1930s, her research now focuses on the history of architectural criticism, especially on architecture and urban criticism of the 1950s-1980s.

She is currently the scientific coordinator of the international research program Mapping Architectural Criticism. A cartography of architectural criticism, XXth-XXIst centuries (International Research Network), funded by the Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR, 2014).

Main publications:

  • Michel Ragon, Critique d’art et d’architecture (Rennes: Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 2013), co-dirigé avec Richard Leeman.

  •  « Stage-set from hell: The Grands Ensembles between Social and Aesthetic Criticism: The Case of Grigny la Grande Borne , 1969-1974 », Candide. Journal for Architectural Knowledge, 7, Fall 2013, p. 37-60.
  • La critique en temps et lieux,” numéro spécial de Les Cahiers de la recherche architecturale et urbaine 24/25 (2009), co-dirigé avec Kenneth Frampton.

  • Architectural Periodicals in the 1960s and 1970s (Montréal: Centre Canadien d’Architecture – IRHA, 2008), co-dirigé avec France Vanlaethem et Alexis Sornin.

  • Politiques éditoriales et architecture “moderne”. L’émergence de nouvelles revues en France et en Italie (1923-1939) (Paris: Éditions Arguments, 2002).

Paolo Scrivano is Associate Professor of History, Theory and Criticism of Architecture in the Department of Architecture at Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University. He holds a PhD degree in architectural history from the Politecnico di Torino and has taught at the Politecnico di Milano, the University of Toronto, and Boston University. He has authored numerous publications on 20th-century architecture and has been the recipient of several grants and fellowships from institutions such as the Canadian Centre for Architecture, the Center for Advanced Studies in the Visual Arts, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, and the Australian Research Council.

Main publications:

  • Building Transatlantic Italy: Architectural Dialogues with Postwar America (Farnham – Burlington, Vt.: Ashgate, 2013).

  • Intersection of Photography and Architecture,” monographic issue of Visual Resources: An International Journal of Documentation 27:2 (June 2011), co-edited with Maria Antonella Pelizzari.

  • Experimental Modernism,” monographic issue of Architecture and Ideas/Architecture et idées VIII/1 (2009), co-edited with Réjean Legault and David Monteyne.

  • Olivetti Builds: Modern Architecture in Ivrea (Milan: Skira, 2001), co-authored with Patrizia Bonifazio [Italian edition: Olivetti costruisce. Architettura moderna a Ivrea (Milan: Skira, 2001)].

  • Storia di un’idea di architettura moderna. Henry-Russell Hitchcock e l’International Style (Milan: FrancoAngeli, 2001).

Revue CLARA Architecture/Recherche Journal
An initiative of the Centre des Laboratoires Associés pour la Recherche en Architecture (C.L.A.R.A.) at the Faculty of architecture La Cambre Horta – Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB).

Clara’s thematic sections
CLARA Architecture / Recherche is a double-blind peer-reviewed scholarly journal, financially supported by the FRS-(Belgian) Fund for Scientific Research and by the Faculty of Architecture La Cambre-Horta at the Université libre de Bruxelles. Each volume comprises a thematic section of 6 to 8 papers dealing with a predetermined topic in the field of architecture. In addition, a special section is dedicated to the presentation of documents from the Archives d’Architecture held at the ULB, and two miscellaneous papers provide accounts of teaching and cultural activities at the ULB’s Faculty of Architecture.
Each volume comprises a detailed summary and abstracts for the main section’s articles.
CLARA Architecture / Recherche attaches a privileged importance to research methods and tools derived from the field of architectural design, in particular to original drawings, graphics, and pictures both as means of inquiry and as non-textual support to a paper’s argument.

French is CLARA’s privileged working and publishing language, but contributions in English are welcome. In this sense, if only a limited number of English contributions is received, the editorial board may translate it into French at its own expenses.

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