Call for Papers: Architectural Archives. Bitácora Arquitectura Journal, issue 45
Histories of architecture base themselves on the materials contained in archives, whose organization, state of preservation and use and dissemination policies vary considerably from one country to another. These enormous differences have an effect on the research done and the histories and projects that use them as a base: the results are very different when there are large numbers of collections that have been preserved, organized and concentrated for centuries. The contents and organization of archives define and limit research and directly influence the practices of historians. Even when collections shape narratives, it is the researcher, whose work begins by uncovering these objects, who proposes their own reading of the materials contained within.
All archives imply selection: deciding which are the elements that are worthy of being preserved and giving them a patrimonial value involves taking a position. It is currently being questioned if it is legitimate to sell or lease architectural archives to private individuals or organizations, or if they should be maintained as public goods.
By definition, archives tend to grow, to include more, but their capacity to offer a panoramic vision or encompass the totality of history is questionable. In our conflictive and convulsive present, it is worth reflecting on what and who has been included in architectural archives, and what and who has been left out, as well as how these lacunae should be interpreted. Archives include photographs, blueprints and models, but other materials are needed to explain architecture: order forms, personal and legal papers, commercial catalogues and even matchboxes have a place in the architectural archive.
New technologies challenge the traditional and the established, such as the objects and documents that are preserved – and venerated – in an archive. In the future, the digital artefacts that are used to produce contemporary architecture, design, urbanism and the landscape will be included in one or several repositories, and it’s possible that their virtual nature will cause a loss of meaning for the spaces we currently use and understand as architectural archives.
This Call for Papers can be downloaded here.