The Political Economy of Architectural Research: Dutch Architecture, Architects and the City, 2000-2012

Amir Djalali

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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    The status of architectural research has not yet been clearly defined. Nevertheless, architectural research has surely become a core element in the profession of architecture. In fact, the tendency seem for architects to be less and less involved with building design and construction services, which are more efficiently taken care of by engineering firms. On the contrary, the production and dissemination of knowledge is becoming central to the work of architects, who are more and more differentiating their activity throughout a variety of media such as exhibitions, publications, events, studios and workshops. The Dutch case is particularly instructive, since the Netherlands provided a vast network of public funding institutions for non-academic architectural research initiatives. In in the aftermath of the 2008 crisis, this network acted as a true welfare institution, allowing architects to find work opportunities after the shrinkage of the traditional architecture job market. Yet, this public spending is not to be seen just as a simple welfare policy, but it acted as a new model of urban development, triggering a series of urban renewal projects based on the injection of “creative” activities in vacant buildings and problematic neighborhoods. The public funding model is probably destined to an end. In 2011, the Dutch government approved cuts for 200 million euros to cultural activities, which led to the disappearance of internationally renowned architecture research institutions, such as the Berlage Institute. Nevertheless, the effects of the economic crisis seem to have brought permanent structural and anthropological transformations in the profession of architecture. In this process, new institutions and new subjectivities are emerging. The figure of the Dutch architect is today far from that of the 1990s, which was epitomized by the figure of the Superdutch—a cynical, brutally optimist white male able to surf on top of the waves of the Dutch “Golden Age”. This article attempts to sketch the portrait of the new architect-researcher as a knowledge worker, caught between contrasting forces of precarity of employment, budget cuts, populism, co-optation and gentrification.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-8
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 6 May 2016


    • architectural research
    • koolhaas
    • netherlands
    • unsolicited architecture
    • precarity
    • cognitive labour
    • cynicism
    • affective theory

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