An Architectural Genogram: Writing Architectural History Based on the Transfer of Social Capital

By Igea Troiani.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The qualitative research method presented involves the examination of intersecting biographies of prominent architects and their collaborators. A methodological approach produced by the author, it is inspired in part by select theories of social analysis by Pierre Bourdieu and their translation into the profession of architecture by Garry Stevens, most notable for his book T T he Favoured Circle (1998). Historical mapping occurs through a biographical genogram, a kind of family diagram in which seminal modern buildings and texts on architectural philosophy are seen as the offspring of the social networking of famous architects.
So as to discuss this research method a case study of the private and professional lives of a select group of architects will be referred to. That network includes French modernist master, Charles-Édouard Jeanneret-Gris (Le Corbusier); American Art Historian, Henry-Russell Hitchcock; English architectural educator, Colin Rowe and American architect, Peter Eisenman. The genogram of this architectural network is one in which architectural design capital is carried from Le Corbusier through Hitchcock (who knew each other personally and were friends) to Rowe (Hitchcock’s student) to Eisenman (Rowe’s student). The offspring of the pursuit of this line of white modern architecture beginning with Le Corbusier’s Purist white villas of the 1930s is a genetically modified series of white house designs by Eisenman in the 1960s. Eisenman’s designs of Houses I-X carry visual, structural and ideological resemblances to Le Corbusier’s early white villas. The method discussed posits architectural production within the context of social networking and influence where the architecture is understood as having emerged from intellectual ‘familial’ associations. The genogram presented maps not as is typically depicted in genograms, marriage, divorce etc, but rather personal friendships; educational associations and collaborative practice.

Keywords: Architecture, Historiographic Method, Genogram

International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 5, Issue 7, pp.347-364. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 3.079MB).

Dr. Igea Troiani

Senior Lecturer, Department of Architecture, Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, Oxford, UK

Igea Troiani is an academic and practicing architect. She currently lectures at Oxford Brookes University and is founding director of Original Field of Architecture, Oxford [http://originalfield.com/]. She has been producing works on the relationship between institutional politics and modern architecture since 1999. Igea is co-author of The Politics of Making (Routledge, 2007) and has published her work in Critical Architecture (Routledge, 2007), the journals, arq (2007), Fabrications (2006) and The Journal of Architecture (2005). She is chair and coordinator of the UK based Architectural Humanities Research Association (AHRA) [http://www.ahra-architecture.org/] and is currently writing Architecture Genograms: Mies and Le Corbusier’s Social Networks (Routledge, due 2012).

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