Architecture and Environment

The aim of this group is to (re)consider “environment” both as a central object of enquiry within architectural history and as a methodological framework that calls for re- thinking existing historiography whilst opening the discipline to closely related fields such as environmental and landscape history, geography, histories of science and technology, cultural studies and anthropology/material culture.

In recent years, a growing amount of scholarship has emerged, invested in uncovering numerous instances that engage issues of environment within architectural/spatial practices as well as charting historic discourses of environment against a background of disciplinary expansion, in particular during the second half of the twentieth-century.

In addition to works that sought to historicize the architecture-environment intersection, scholars working chiefly outside of architectural history have made significant contributions toward developing and qualifying concepts of environment that challenge and overcome binary oppositions such as those of nature vs. culture (including the natural vs. the built or man-made environment), rural vs. industrial, society vs. technology, or subjects vs. objects/things.

These different theories place emphasis on understanding environments as complex assemblages, dense material networks of metabolic exchanges/flows, relational systems across varying scales, and encompassing both human and non-human agencies. This renders the relationship between environment and architecture not as primarily dialectic, but as continuous and dynamic, understanding both as densely interwoven with each other, whilst maintaining that, despite these continuities, their relationship is never even and thus remains politically charged.

Group coordinators: 

Dalal Alsayer

Kuwait University

Megan Eardley

Princeton, USA