Centre for Architecture Theory Criticism History
School of Architecture

Alternative Histories of the Pavilion

Few would argue with the claim that the pavilion is one of the twentieth century's most significant building types, employed by some of modernism’s most important architects. In the new millennium, the pavilion has again come to prominence. Programs such as the annual Serpentine Galleries' summer pavilion in London have popularized the type, turning these often modestly-scaled temporary structures into a global phenomenon. While many recent pavilions share the formal novelty of their twentieth-century predecessors, the context and purpose of their exhibition is much changed. Few maintain the proleptic attitude and teleological drive of modern pavilions. Rather, today’s pavilions are highly aestheticized spectacles: they leverage architecture as a democratic art and use it as a vehicle for branding. Despite these differences, critical discourses tend to historicize the contemporary pavilion phenomenon through the narrow lens of the heroic avant-garde of modernism. It is also against this legacy that the success of contemporary pavilions tends to be measured, often unfavorably. More than a simple misalignment of modern and contemporary motivations, the hegemony of the Serpentine pavilion as a model obscures other, more complex and nuanced histories of pavilions from around the world, and limits our understanding of the pavilion type.

This session welcomes papers that explore alternative histories of the pavilion, and studies of practices that exist outside the dominant Eurocentric modernist tradition. We invite papers that attend to unexamined case studies and histories of the pavilion, especially those that have been overlooked, obscured by hegemonic narratives, or forgotten in architects’ formative oeuvres. Original analysis concerning trans-historical themes of function, temporality and scale is encouraged. We also welcome contributions that explore the history of pavilions in garden expos, programs for urban renewal and other interdisciplinary contexts, including artist-designed pavilions and their reception in architecture.

Session Chairs: Ashley Paine, University of Queensland, and Susan Holden, University of Queensland

The Call For Papers and abstract submission details can be found here:
The deadline for abstracts is 15 June 2017, and the conference will run from 18-22 April 2018.
The session is part of a larger Australian Research Council (ARC) funded Discovery Project called: “Is Architecture Art?: A history of categories, concepts and recent practices”. The website for the project can be found here: https://isarchitectureart.com. We are hoping the session will generate material to compliment our existing research on the contemporary pavilion, and to contribute to a scholarly book.