Recent Opportunities


CLARA Architecture/Recherche Journal #5: Architectural Criticism and Public Debate


Guest editors: Hélène Jannière (Université Rennes 2) & Paolo Scrivano (Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University) 
deadline: October 15th 2017 (full articles!)
download the full call in PDF format

This thematic section of CLARA Architecture/Recherche Journal’s forthcoming issue Journal is centered on the relationship between architectural criticism and the notion of “public opinion”, the “public realm”, and on architectural criticism conceived as an autonomous discourse, internal to architectural theories and history.

The issue aims to publish articles that do not consider criticism merely as a body of historical, theoretical or philosophical texts on architecture, but rather as a discipline encompassing diverging protagonists, media, and international exchanges. By posing this hypothesis, the issue seeks to challenge existing concepts related to the reception of architecture in the specialized or public debate seen as a mere passive “reflection” of the building or project.

In the editors’ view, it is crucial to address the theme of architectural criticism and public debate in order to clarify the definitions of criticism and better understand the overlapping boundaries between criticism per seand other types of writings and discourses on architecture and the built environment. Criticism, historically defined as a literary genre and as a form judgment, is bound up with the emergence during the 18th century of a public space for discussion, as the publication in 1959 of Reinhart Koselleck’s Kritik und Krise made evident. Since the 1980s, art historians or specialists in aesthetics have noted the coincidence between the development of art criticism and the emergence of a public space for debate, the latter conceived in Habermasian terms. Similarly, Richard Wittman (Architecture, Print Culture, and the Public Sphere in Eighteenth-Century France, 2007) grounded his analysis of the formation of a “public discourse on architecture” precisely in the concept of public sphere. Several other scholars have discussed the interactions between art discourse and the public sphere. Can a similar debate be transposed to the realm of architecture? And does the intersection with the public sphere tend to disappear once criticism is intended as a disciplinary discourse, mostly relying on architectural history and theories? 

This thematic issue intends to address the following questions:

1. The frontiers of architectural criticism

Does architectural criticism share themes, protagonists and medias with the public debate or does it maintain an almost exclusive relation to the professional or the academic spheres? If the latter is the case, does architectural criticism pertain to an autonomous disciplinary discourse or does it refer to extra-disciplinary concepts? Provided the changeable nature of its autonomy, to what extent does architectural criticism remain separated from social uses, architectural design practices and economic production?

2. Architectural criticism and its public

Can architectural criticism aimed at general audiences be separated from criticism geared towards a specialized public? Is it possible to identify a relation between types of publication (daily newspapers, cultural magazines, political journals, professional periodicals, etc.) and the statuses of the critical discourse? To what extent do these publications and their target readerships influence or create specific forms of criticism?

The relation between architectural criticism and public opinion can be variously discussed, for example through its connection to the judgment and criteria of evaluation of architecture, as well as through its association to the so-called “crisis” of criticism. Proposed articles may investigate the means by which critics intend to reach various layers of public and how they connect their discourse to those layers. They may also examine the part of the discourse on “architectural judgment” in the debates on architectural criticism. Finally, the editors of this issue encourage the submission of articles that put under scrutiny the relation between “crisis” and criticism, by placing criticism in selected historical moments and specific cultural conditions. 


First trained as an architect, Hélène Jannière received a PhD (1999) and obtained a Thesis of Habilitation (2011) both in Art History. She has been teaching History of Architecture and Town Planning in French architectural schools from 1994 to 2012, namely at the École nationale supérieure d’architecture de Paris-La Villette. Since 2012, she is Professor of contemporary architectural history at Rennes 2 University. In 2001, she has been the recipient of a fellowship from the Canadian Centre for Architecture. Her main research domain is architectural criticism and 20th-century architectural periodicals. After having extensively published on the subject of architectural magazines of the 1920s and 1930s, her research now focuses on the history of architectural criticism, especially on architecture and urban criticism of the 1950s-1980s. She is currently the scientific coordinator of the international research program Mapping Architectural Criticism. A cartography of architectural criticism, XXth-XXIst centuries (International Research Network), funded by the Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR, 2014).

Main publications:

  • • Michel Ragon, Critique d’art et d’architecture (Rennes: Presses Universitaire de Rennes, 2013), co-edited with Richard Leeman.
  • • “La critique en temps et lieux,” special issue of Les Cahiers de la recherche architecturale et urbaine24/25 (2009), co-edited with Kenneth Frampton.
  • • Architectural Periodicals in the 1960s and 1970s (Montreal: Canadian Center for Architecture - IRHA, 2008), co-edited with France Vanlaethem and Alexis Sornin.
  • • “Paysage urbain : genèse, représentations, enjeux contemporains,” special issue of Strates – Matériaux pour la recherche en sciences sociales 13 (2007), co-edited with Frédéric Pousin.
  • • Politiques éditoriales et architecture “moderne”. L’émergence de nouvelles revues en France et en Italie (1923-1939) (Paris: Éditions Arguments, 2002)


Paolo Scrivano is Associate Professor of History, Theory and Criticism of Architecture in the Department of Architecture at Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University. He holds a PhD degree in architectural history from the Politecnico di Torino and has taught at the Politecnico di Milano, the University of Toronto, and Boston University. He has authored numerous publications on 20th-century architecture and has been the recipient of several grants and fellowships from institutions such as the Canadian Centre for Architecture, the Center for Advanced Studies in the Visual Arts, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, and the Australian Research Council. 

Main publications:

  • • Building Transatlantic Italy: Architectural Dialogues with Postwar America (Farnham - Burlington, Vt.: Ashgate, 2013).
  • • “Intersection of Photography and Architecture,” monographic issue of Visual Resources: An International Journal of Documentation 27:2 (June 2011), co-edited with Maria Antonella Pelizzari.
  • • “Experimental Modernism,” monographic issue of Architecture and Ideas/Architecture et idées VIII/1 (2009), co-edited with Réjean Legault and David Monteyne.
  • • Olivetti Builds: Modern Architecture in Ivrea (Milan: Skira, 2001), co-authored with Patrizia Bonifazio [Italian edition: Olivetti costruisce. Architettura moderna a Ivrea (Milan: Skira, 2001)].
  • • Storia di un’idea di architettura moderna. Henry-Russell Hitchcock e l’International Style (Milan: FrancoAngeli, 2001).

Les articles seront soumis à travers la plateforme en ligne de la revue:

Les articles auront une longueur comprise entre 25 et 40.000 signes (espaces, notes, bibliographie, liste des illustrations et note biographique compris, y compris également le résumé).

Les auteur-e-s potential-le-s peuvent contacter les rédacteurs invites (helene.janniere[at]; paolo.scrivano[at] et/ou le directeur  de la revue (axel.fisher[at] avant d’entreprendre une soumission, afin de verifier la pertinence de leur proposition, et ce jusqu’au 31 août 2017.

SAH thanks The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Fund at The Chicago Community Foundation for its operating support.
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