Observing the Architectural Stigma of the Ugliness: The Cases of Albania and Galicia

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Shëmti and feísmo are the two names given respectively in the Albanian and Galician languages to stigmatize this unruly built environment: It is considered a material expression of both constructed and internalized myth of being the underdeveloped peoples in the European periphery.
This paper aims to explore how this stigmatization has been constructed and materialized in the built environment and the political and professional discourse. The paper presents a situational but also comparative analysis of Albanian and Galician realities, drawing similarities and different local perspectives present in academia, media, politics and architectural circles. This multi-layered and hybrid observation seeks to further explore the relational, ethnographic narratives of resistance, that subvert the myth of what is commonly understood as ugliness. Did the media or the political rhetoric of beautification had an impact over the years? Did the depreciation or demolition of heritage play a role in the production of identitarian stigmas? Are self-building practices at the root of this understanding of ugliness? We aim to see these architectural expressions differently, as playing a paradigmatic role in disrupting the hygienist industrialized models of European cities which are extensively promoted as the only way of designing the built environment.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Observers Observed: Architectural Uses of Ethnography
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of the 8th Annual Conference of the Jaap Bakema Study Centre
EditorsDirk van den Heuvel, Fatma Tanis, Sun Ah Hwang
Place of PublicationRotterdam
PublisherTU Delft and Het Nieuwe Instituut
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 2021
EventThe Observers Observed: Architectural Uses of Ethnography: 8th Annual Conference of the Jaap Bakema Study Centre - TU Delft / Het Nieuwe Instituut, Delft / Rotterdam, Netherlands
Duration: 24 Nov 202125 Nov 2021


ConferenceThe Observers Observed: Architectural Uses of Ethnography
CityDelft / Rotterdam
Internet address


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