• Dialectic VIII: Subverting – Unmaking Architecture
    Michael Abrahamson and Ole W. Fischer
    Ashley Bigham, Claire Bosmans, Chris Cornelius, Lisa Henry, Seung-Youp Lee, James Miller, Eric Nay, Colin Ripley, Chelsea Wait, and Annelies de Smet
    ORO Editions, 2021
    University of Utah-School of Architecture

Claire Bosmans, Héliport plinth, 2019. A few steps leading to a closed vitrine formerly connected to the building’s inner distribution: (a) collage & (b) plan. Courtesy Claire Bosmans

The eighth thematic issue of Dialectic asks the reader to imagine possible ways to subvert architecture. Or to employ architecture as means of subversion. Seven articles from international authors at different levels of their academic careers and two guiding editorials invite the reader to reflect upon the various ways how architecture, normally conceived of as expression of power and elites, undermines and undoes exactly this taken-for-granted affirmatively. Divided in three sections, the first explores lessons from scholarship and design from the “field school” in Milwaukee, social housing in Brussels, and informal open-air bazars in Ukraine. Section two critiques instrumentalized architectural knowledge, such as sustainability and the medium of drawing, particularly from an indigenous perspective. The final section wrestles with fundamental concepts of the architectural discipline: with the normalized, male body and architecture’s relationship with the ground.

Michael Abrahamson is an architectural historian and critic whose research explores the materiality of buildings and the methods of architectural practice across the twentieth century. His dissertation at the University of Michigan centered on the important late modernist architectural firm Gunnar Birkerts and Associates, and Abrahamson has also written about the Detroit firm Albert Kahn Associates as well as Brutalism in North America. In these and other research projects, he explores the systems of creativity, subordination, and legitimation that underwrite the creation of architecture. Abrahamson is currently visiting assistant professor of architecture at the University of Utah.

Ole W. Fischer is an architectural theoretician, historian, critic, curator, and associate professor as well as associate director of the University of Utah’s School of Architecture. Before his appointment in 2010, he conducted research and teaching at the ETH Zurich, Harvard Graduate School of Design, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Rhode Island School of Design, and since then held visiting appointments at the TU Vienna and the TU Graz. He lectured and published internationally on history, theory, and criticism of architecture, art and culture, amongst others in: Archithese, Werk, the Journal  of the Society of Architectural Historians, MIT Thresholds, Arch+, AnArchitektur, GAM, Umeni, Beyond, West 86th, Framework, and Log. He contributed chapters to numerous books, such as The SAGE Handbook of Architectural Theory (eds. Greig Crysler, Stephen Cairns, Hilde Heynen; SAGE Publications, 2012) and This Thing called Theory (eds. Teresa Stoppani, Giorgio Ponzo, George Themistokleous; Taylor and Francis, 2016). He is the author of Nietzsches Schatten (Gebruder Mann Verlag, 2012) and coeditor of the peer-reviewed architecture journal Dialectic (since 2011–12).

The School of Architecture of the University of Utah (SoA) is the leading regional center for promoting the value of architecture through education. Our vision is to effect a transformation in attitude toward architecture. Founded in 1949, SoA is dedicated to addressing the social and environmental responsibilities of architecture through community engagement and speculation into alternative forms of practice.