The Making of Architecture for Narrative Performance

When public actors commission architecture projects, these commissions are always linked to public actors’ desire to support political projects. Especially at critical junctures in the development of a collectivity, public actors mobilize architecture to support political projects by constructing cultural references that foreground certain narratives. This research project investigates how publically funded architecture projects are made to perform narratively. The aim is to understand the role of communication and the design process in the production, dissemination and control of narratives.

This research investigates in particular the view from architecture practice, that is, architects’ assumptions about the narrative competence of architecture. What effects do architects attribute ex-ante to the narrative performance of their projects? What informs the design of the narrative, how does the design of the narrative unfold and how do architects link it to the spatial design of a given project? How are these narratives controlled and maintained and what roles do visualization, public relation and communication play in this regard, particularly in the age of the social media? By addressing these questions this research will probe into the architecture discipline’s sustained confidence of its own autonomy, it will also inform architecture academia as to the deficits of architecture education.

The research is divided into three research periods. In the first period, the conceptual framework is developed by identifying concepts drawn from theories of identity, narratives and change. Three case study architecture projects are selected. With the help of the conceptual framework and textual analysis of communication material in newspapers, press release statements and other, the narratives associated with these projects are described and analyzed in terms of their contribution to political projects. In the second research period, three architecture offices are selected. The design and communication personnel at these firms are interviewed with the objective of investigating the role of the architects and the design process in the production and maintenance of narratives. In the third research period, workshops are held with architecture academic staff and students of the universities of the BauHow5 network. The aim is to test the research findings against current practices in pedagogies, research and practice at these universities and identify shortcomings in academia.

Feodor Lynen Fellowship for Experienced Researchers

Host institute:
TU Delft

Project Duration:
Sep.2020 – Nov. 2021

Head contact:
Nadia Alaily-Mattar (nina)