Aggregate Architectural History Collaborative

Napoléon was the first conqueror to “legalize” looting by forcing the vanquished to sign contracts surrendering historic art objects. The recent selling off and dispersal of the collection of Iraq Museum, was presented as the simple work of market forces, but it continues and extends Napoleonic forms of looting.

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On the ledger and the herbarium: the settling of financial and botanical accounts.

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Inspired by the scholars, activists, and everyday citizens who spoke out, marched, and protested against police killings of African-Americans, we present this collection of short essays that put Black lives at the center of our thinking about architecture and its history.

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What is the impact of demolition on those who witness it not through the media but in situ? Does living through the destruction of one’s built environment produce a kind of post traumatic stress disorder? Do buildings deserve the same protections as people? How might we develop strategies to prevent further damage and to treat already-damaged people and buildings?

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The destruction of cultural heritage does not just take place in architectural landscapes, but within the culture of the museum. Middle Eastern museums built by foreign experts under colonial rule are also sites of demolition, aesthetically and ideologically confirming their exhibitors’ Weltanschauung worldview.

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How does change happen? Who authors design? How does architecture participate in modernization? How does architecture govern? Governing by design, this book suggests, is not simply a matter of monu­mental symbolism and space, state power and authority, imposed control and surveillance. This book instead sets architecture in relation to mundane mat­ters: food, bodies, housing, markets, cities, and culture. How do we regulate basic aspects of our lives through design, such as the consumption of food and shelter? How do we manage the risks of modernization to our bodies and environments? How is culture produced by politics, planning, and architecture? How ...

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After being destroyed, many monuments and artifacts take on another life through representations. Disappearance no longer proves synonymous with forgetting or loss, but rather forms the condition of possibility for a specific mode of image production.

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The two essays of Mammoths, Inc. look into the workings of public debt: a ghostly, spectral technology foundational to the liberal state and modern capitalism alike. These two essays are part of a three-volume study, titled Ancestralities, on the relationship between architecture, public debt, and sovereignty in the last four centuries.

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Marshall McLuhan’s appearance within architecture’s vanguard institutions in the mid-1960s might be seen, in retrospect, as a mere inevitability; he did seem to be everywhere after the 1964 publication of Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man. But his participation at venues like Constantinos A. Doxiadis’s Delos cruises or the Graham Foundation, and his publication in Perspecta 11, for instance, mark a very particular juncture in the disciplinary development of architecture in the postwar period. For some historians, his arrival at this moment was a sign of the beginning of the end for a particular modernist conception of architecture and its ...

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Cultural heritage debates are often as much about the present as they are about the past. The long history of attempts to alter, reform, and recreate Cordoba’s Mezquita-Catedral can help us understand Spain’s changing attitudes – neutralization, celebration, modification and rejection – toward its Islamic present and pasts.

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We cannot meaningfully criticize the destruction of cultural heritage in the Middle East if we do not question the apparatuses, institutions, and mindsets that lead to terror and destruction in the first place. Just as state apparatuses can make the deaths of enemies ungrievable, cultural and educational institutions can make demolished buildings into something un-memorable.

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The symposium “Neurologics: Architecture Starting with the Brain” took place in the Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design at the University of Toronto on March 7–8, 2014. According to the brief, the event was organized to “consolidate the gains” of the “decade of the brain” and to raise the question, “what relevance do the discoveries of neuroscience have for architecture, a culture and discipline with its own matters of concern?” Many—although by no means all—papers presented at the conference were optimistic about the “gains” that such a neuroscientific perspective would provide. The text published here is a revised version ...

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How do the many persons who populate the narratives of architectural history as embodiments affect the temporalities ascribed to buildings and projects?

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Renaissance art historian Cammy Brothers offers a response to Mark Rakatansky’s essay “The Transformations of Giulio Romano: Palazzo Stati Maccarani,” which draws from their conversations during Aggregate’s transparent peer review of this piece.

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By changing the ways we imagine the risks of climate change, terrorism, and globalization, the design of 30 St Mary Axe mediated transformations in the City of London’s economy and governance.

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As a complement to Risk Design, an analytic drawing of 30 St. Mary Axe. Click the drawing to see it at full resolution.

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What are the characteristics and history of the “unbuilt”? How does it relate to architectural practice and the built? And, for architectural history, what are the stakes of the unbuilt? Why does it matter? What might it do?

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The history of the Middle East is replete with instances of co-existence between ethnic and religious communities as well as examples of continued endorsement and support for ancient monuments from Antiquity to the Islamic periods.

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This dossier of original essays examines the demolition of monuments in the Middle East from the Napoléonic era to the present. The authors describe the impact of obliterating architecture on our psyches, cultures, philosophies, and historiographies. Tracing the mediatization of demolition, and its traps and tropes, such as sensationalism and anthropmorphization, these essays also explore the agencies and capacities of threatened monuments.

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This paper by Claire Zimmerman is a reflection on the research methods and questions posed by the scale and archives of Albert Kahn and the firm he founded, Albert Kahn Associates. Less formal than a peer-reviewed article, the essay is the first in a series introducing innovative research projects currently underway and providing a means for scholars to solicit feedback and provoke discussion. Zimmerman’s paper addresses the increasingly prominent question of scale in histories of architecture. What new understandings can we gain through both close and distant readings of architectural phenomena that manifest themselves in ways too complex for an individual ...

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Slavoj Žižek would have agreed that the destruction of cultural heritage by ISIS and the murder of African-Americans by the police are both examples of “objective violence” because they are easily framed in language and media as the disturbance of normative bourgeois consumerist life. What is at stake in this claim of equivalency? To what extent is representation itself a form of violence?

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Through close readings and innovative analytic visualizations, Mark Rakatansky explores how Giulio Romano’s architectural and pictorial work engaged a “social parametrics,” developing new transformative modes in response to the changing politics of identity in the Cinquecento.

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What does it mean to personalize method? This essay by Endre Dányi is both a sociologist’s historical study of the Hungarian Parliament building in the context of European democracy in crisis, and a means of activating the author’s own subjectivity. By walking us to archives, through memories, and inside buildings, Dányi’s mobile narratives help us cast history anew.

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