About the project

Mapping Architectural Criticism
20th and 21st Centuries: a Cartography
La Critique Architecturale
20e et 21e Siècles: une Cartographie

ANR Project ANR-14-CE31-0019-01

The research project Mapping Architectural criticism, 20th and 21st Centuries: a Cartography, funded by the Agence Nationale de la Recherche, aims at developing a field of research on architectural criticism and its history, from the very last decades of the 19th century to the present day. It is based on an international network of scholars, whose research involves history of architectural criticism on various levels and with different approaches (including architectural theory, history of preservation, historiography of architecture, history of architectural periodicals and of criticism). Nathalie Boulouch (Université Rennes 2 and Archives de la critique d’art), Anne Hultzsch (University College London, The Bartlett School of Architecture and OCCAS-Oslo Center for Critical Architectural Studies), Giovanni Leoni (Università di Bologna) Paolo Scrivano (Politecnico di Milano), Laurent Stalder (ETH Zurich), Suzanne Stephens (Barnard College, Columbia University), Alice Thomine-Berrada (Musée d’Orsay) are the main members of this network, which is hosted at Rennes 2 University and directed by Hélène Jannière (Université Rennes 2).


Architectural criticism blurs boundaries with other forms or types of architectural discourse: namely, architectural theory and history. Furthermore, the term “architectural criticism”, which has no unique definition, must be clarified. Thus, instead of establishing an aprioristic and normative definition, this research project aims at comparing several concepts of architectural criticism, related to their original cultural and historical contexts.

The project aims at considering the international dimension of criticism, as revealed by varied approaches of critics and types of magazines, by exchanges and movements, but also by cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary transfers. Concerning its main research axis, the project proposes to examine the relationship between criticism and the making of architectural heritage from the end of the 19th century to the present, as well as the investigating such problems as the “crisis” of criticism, the crisis of architectural debate, and the reception of contemporary architecture in the public sphere.

One of the main statements of this project is to consider criticism not merely as a body of historical, theoretical or philosophical texts on architecture. We consider that criticism also encompasses diverging protagonists, media, and international exchanges. Furthermore, by borrowing some of its notions from other disciplines, criticism is made of transfers between architecture and other fields of knowledge, as well as between the architectural profession and the public sphere.

By basing the research on this hypothesis, our project attempts to question traditional approaches of reception of architecture, and especially may tackle the concept of “reception” as a passive “reflection” of the building or the project in the architectural or public debate.

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