Centre for Architecture Theory Criticism History
School of Architecture

Aesthetics of Resistance symposium

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

On 20 and 21 July 2017, Isabelle Doucet, Senior Lecturer at the University of Manchester (UK) and Janina Gosseye, Research Fellow at the UQ School of Architecture, organized a two-day symposium at the UQ School of Architecture, which focused on the aesthetics of resistance through the analysis of architects’ own homes. This symposium, which carried the title ‘Private Virtues or Vices?’, sought to bring together examples of architects’ houses whose designs articulate social, political, cultural and environmental critiques.

On Thursday, the symposium started with a tour of four architect-designed houses in and around Brisbane: The Railton House in Spring Hill, designed by John Railton (1963); the Addison House in Taringa, designed by Rex Addison (1974); the Carpenter Hall Residence in Wilston, designed by Russell Hall for his sister Jennifer (1986); and the Dornoch Terrace House in Highgate Hill, that James Russell designed for himself and his family (2015). The day concluded with a public lecture by Russell Hall at the UQ School of Architecture. In his lecture, Russell revisited the design of his own house in Mons (1982), and offered attendees a frank appraisal of the building’s failures and felicities.

Isabelle Doucet and Janina Gosseye opened the day of presentations on Friday with a public lecture which set the stage for the subsequent six paper presentations by Andrew Wilson (UQ), Kirsty Volz (UQ), Luke Tipene (UTS), Els De Vos and Selin Geerinckx (Antwerp University, Belgium), Thea Brejzek and Lawrence Wallen (UTS) and Farhan Karim (University of Kansas, US). In their opening lecture, Isabelle and Janina outlined their interest in the architect’s own home and its relation to aesthetics of resistance. Showing numerous examples from across the world, they posited that its unique set of conditions allows for a higher degree of experiment and critique – be it social, ecological, political, cultural or – than is possible through commissioned work. Isabelle and Janina also formulated their desire for a closer appraisal of the figure of the (insurgent) architect, an embodied agent productively taking part in the transformation and (re)construction of everyday life worlds.

The symposium concluded on Friday night, with two public lectures at the UQ School of Architecture. Philip Goad, Professor at the University of Melbourne, presented a detailed analysis of the House that Robin Boyd designed for himself and his family in South Yarra in the late 1950s. Isabelle Doucet broadened the scope and presented various instances of ‘aesthetics of resistance’ – critical architecture and urban activism – from post-1968 Brussels (Belgium).

The research collaboration between Isabelle Doucet and Janina Gosseye into the ‘aesthetics of resistance’ in the architect’s own home continues: They are currently planning a second symposium, which will take place at the University of Manchester in January 2018. For more information, visit the website: https://aestheticsofresistance.com/