• Speaking of Buildings: Oral History in Architectural Research
    Janina Gosseye, Naomi Stead, and Deborah van der Plaat
    Princeton Architectural Press, 2019
    Janina Gosseye, Naomi Stead & Deborah van der Plaat

View of the Habitations Jeanne-Mance, July 2013. The mural in the centre is “L’air du temps” (2012) by Phillip Adams. Photo: Thomas-Bernard Kenniff.

Buildings are mute: they will not speak for themselves and they do not speak to us. Historically, the architect has had a privileged role speaking of and for buildings, an interlocutor translating their messages and stories for a broader audience. But what other people who can speak for, and about, and within buildings? What stories might they tell, and about what as-yet unspoken aspects of architecture? More importantly, what might it mean for architecture, as a practice and a discipline, if these diverse voices were more included? Speaking of Buildings is the first comprehensive account and theorization of oral history as a method in architectural research.

Janina Gosseye is a research fellow at the School of Architecture of the University of Queensland (Australia). Her research is situated at the nexus of architectural history, socio-political history, and cultural studies, and focuses on the postwar emergence of “ambiguous” public spaces. She has authored and edited several books, including Shopping Towns Europe (2017, with Tom Avermaete) and Hot Modernism (2015, with John Macarthur, Deborah van der Plaat, and Andrew Wilson) and recently edited a special Fabrications issue on oral history in architecture. Together with Tom Avermaete, Janina is also series editor of Bloomsbury Studies in Modern Architecture.

Naomi Stead is professor of architecture and head of the Department of Architecture at Monash University in Melbourne (Australia). She is also an adjunct professor in architecture at the University of Queensland. Her research interests lie broadly within the critical and cultural studies of architecture, including its writing and representation, and critical and experimental research methods in architecture. Stead has edited two books: Semi-Detached: Writing, Representation and Criticism in Architecture (Uro, Melbourne, 2012) and Women, Practice, Architecture: Resigned Accommodation and Usurpatory Practice (Routledge, 2014). She was coeditor of the journal Architectural Theory Review from 2010–14, and is an architecture critic and columnist for Places Journal.

Deborah van der Plaat is a senior research fellow and manager of the Architecture Theory Criticism History Research Centre (ATCH) at the University of Queensland (Australia). Her research examines the intersection of architecture and theories of artistic agency, climate, place, and race. In 2009, she won the Postdoctoral Research Fellowship (Women) from the University of Queensland and from 2010–13 she was coeditor of the Taylor and Francis journal Fabrications: Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians of Australia and New Zealand. With Macarthur, Gosseye, and Wilson, she recently completed a large Australian Research Council funded oral history project on Queensland Architects which resulted in a major exhibition (Hot Modernism, Building Modern Queensland 1945–1975, 2014), the Digital Archive of Queensland Architecture, and book, Hot Modernism Queensland Architecture 1945–1975 (Artifice, 2015).