“The cultural turn appeared in the social sciences in the early 1970s through historians, sociologists, and ethnographers such as Pierre Bourdieu, Michel Foucault, and Clifford Geertz, but didn’t influence architectural discourse until the 1990s predominantly via academics in East coast US universities. Since then, it has silently carved out a discursive space somewhere between practice and critical history without consciously becoming a discipline in its own right, as Anthony Moulis pointed out in his paper at the 2014 EAHN conference in Turin.

The cultural turn in architecture draws its modes of inquiry from cultural studies and its unacknowledged consequences are manifold: from the reconceptualisation of architecture as a system of representation rather than as object, to the separation of architectural culture from practice (the emergence of an architectural culture industry to paraphrase Adorno and Horkheimer), to the institutionalisation of research in the architectural humanities within the academy.

The cultural turn coincides with the rise of postmodernism in architecture, arguably its stylistic manifestation, and concerned with the mediation and communication of architecture through exhibitions and magazines.

The group aims to investigate postmodernism and the cultural turn in architecture and ask questions such as:How has architecture, architectural discourse, and mainly research in architecture have been transformed or displaced through and by the cultural turn and what are the consequences? What are the opportunities for an explicit consideration of architecture through the lens of cultural studies and where might this lead our understanding of architecture? What is the relationship between postmodernism and the cultural turn in architecture? How did the increased mediatisation of architecture is intertwined with a rethinking and reshaping of the discipline as a field of inquiry and practice? And is that what postmodern architecture is all about anyway?

Group coordinators: 

Veronique Patteeuw

Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture Lille, France

Léa-Catherine Szacka

University of Manchester, UK


Please email the EAHN Office to be put in touch with group coordinators.