Historiographies of Technology and Architecture

View this conference’s proceedings here.


The 35th SAHANZ Conference, 4-7 July 2018 in Wellington, New Zealand.

Contemporary descriptions of the future of architecture and architectural practice continue to proclaim the benefits of technology: a built environment that is automated and intelligent; building construction via robotic fabrication processes; form and space-making utilizing virtual reality. In what ways do our current obsessions echo, extend or overturn the profession’s historic preoccupation with technology?

The privileging of technology within architecture had its most obvious manifestation in the modernist period, when architects borrowed knowledge, practices and imagery from other technical fields. But the projection of architecture as technology has been ever present and has its own deep history.

The Greek root “tekhn?” – meaning “art” or “craft” – reminds us that conceiving and making are inextricably linked. This dependency suggests that “tekhn?” lies at the core of architectural practice: the task of creating architecture has always been subject to modes of representation and analysis that can be thought of as “technical”. Equally, the discipline of architecture is responsive to changes in manufacturing, engineering and the other applied sciences. Frequently, this reflexiveness is mediated by the social changes that are wrought by these new technologies.

Image reference: Demonstration house, Karori, Wellington (detail). New Zealand Free Lance:  Photographic prints and negatives. Ref: PAColl-0785-1-175-01. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.