Guest Editors María Elisa Navarro Morales, Trinity College Dublin, Irlanda Juan Luis Burke, University of Maryland, USA
Guest Author Fernando Marías Professor Emeritus of the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid
When Victor Hugo, through the voice of Claude Frollo, Archdeacon of Notre-Dame of Paris, expressed his fear for the future of architecture as an expression and repository of knowledge, threatened by the printing press, he forgot about the ancient and inseparable relation between architecture and books. He also ignored how, far from replacing architecture, by the time the novel was published, the printed book was already a critical instrument in the construction of architectural knowledge and an inseparable ally of the art of construction. Long before the mechanical reproduction of texts, Vitruvius had already highlighted the importance of discourse in architecture and expressed how the education of the architect should include those areas of knowledge that improve and inform their work, be it medicine, history, or even astrology. Thus, the architect apprehends and learns from the world through books. In other words, architects tend to be bibliophiles. For the most part, architects gather books on their professional practice during their studies, later adding volumes to their personal libraries that represent their interests, only to continue collecting books their entire lives. The books architects read, write, and their libraries have the capacity to reveal how the architect’s mind travels the world through the printed page and the ways books have influenced architecture. As Michel de Certeau once affirmed, “readers are travelers,” and each one of the places they visit through their readings are “iterations of paradise.” Architects as readers, authors, and bibliophiles, travel the world, and their readings essentially leave a mark on their architecture and, therefore, on the world. The complex nature of architecture makes it a Quixote-esque labor to define the books of the architect.
Today, we include within architectural books volumes composed and edited by architects and monographs, and those that codify the profession’s principles. We think of Renaissance treatises with the wonderful illustrations that made them valued items for collectors, books that contributed to the transmission of architectural ideas and travel books that made travel possible by proxy. For the travelers of the Grand Tour, books were the best souvenirs, and once back home, they would recreate their steps through a city’s streets and revisit faraway sites from the comfort of their salons. For rulers, books were kingdoms in miniature in which views of different cities and renderings of landmarks were collected in volumes, thus slyly employing books as tools of political propaganda. Books documented important events and ephemeral architecture, constituting invaluable testimonies of official festivities and rituals. The relationship between architects and books only became tighter after the Ancien Régime, and in the modern and postmodern eras, architects returned to the printed word to orient their practice in a world where traditional values had been banished and the art of building lost its foundation. Today, architects continue to write and publish books, and they hold on to their written heritage amassing the most impressive libraries. This issue of H-ART Journal seeks to reflect on books as cultural instruments inherent to the building of architectural knowledge. Los Libros del Arquitecto (The Architect’s Books) welcomes reflections on the relationship between architecture, the architect, and books in any period and geographic region. The editors welcome contributions that examine the complex relationship between architects and books, whether printed or manuscripts, including, but not limited to, books written or edited by architects, those that have influenced their written and built work, architects’ libraries, architects’ collections in libraries, and any topic related to books and architecture.
Manuscript submission deadline: 15 February 2023.
More information can be found in the full call for papers here