Architecture Culture and the Contemporary (ACC)

ACC conducts theoretical and historical research architecture culture (architecture, architecture practice, criticism, publications, exhibitions, competitions, policy, …), and its relations with broader conditions in society, today and in the recent past.

The past decades saw a productive oscillation between claiming the (relative) autonomy of architecture and heteronomous repositioning. This is evident from the subjects around which the architectural debate centres and from the forms used to discuss architecture. Buildings and drawings seem to be alternately confirmed and downplayed as privileged 'media' of architecture. Architecture publications, centres and exhibitions can confirm traditional interpretations of 'architecture' and 'architect', but they are also platforms where 'expanded architecture practices' find opportunities.

'The Contemporary' is more than a temporal designation – 'of our time' or ‘since 1989’ –  it also refers to a condition for architecture, marked by developments such as liberalisation, post-politics and re-politicization, globalisation, (super)diversity, advanced heritage regimes and cultural industries, environmental consciousness and the climate crisis, or new communication technologies and the digital turn.

Engagement with contemporaneity offers opportunities and poses practical and methodological challenges for researchers. It always requires a reflexive positioning – direct engagement or distance, which collaborations ? – and choosing for critique, theory and/or history.

Current research is about:

  • Public commissioning and competition culture, in particular the critical historiography of the Flemish Government Architect institution and of the Open Call competition procedure
  • Recent history of architecture exhibitions and exhibition platforms
  • Contemporary, post-digital architectural images as bearers of practice-specific architectural discourses
  • Exchanges between structural design and architectural design within contemporary design teams and processes
  • The diversity of architect roles and the redistribution of patronage and authorship in today's complex planning and building processes
  • Contemporary heritage issues, evolving standards, and experimental heritage practices

Research projects