Berlin, Boston, Detroit, Istanbul, London, Mumbai, St. Louis,
Natasha Leeman, Jacqueline Meyer
The Mellon Multidisciplinary Research Program at the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal advances and shapes debates in architecture, urbanism, and the humanities by developing a new model for collective research. With the Multidisciplinary Research Program, the CCA establishes new lines of enquiry developed in consultation with external advisors, and invites emerging and established scholars, thinkers, writers, architects, artists, and curators from around the world to collaborate on research projects, based on an open call. In addition to pursuing original research, researchers selected through a peer review process meet and exchange at collaborative workshops and seminars over the course of eighteen months.
The CCA, a research-based institution, joined the Architecture, Urbanism, and Humanities Initiative with three multidisciplinary research projects in 2013, and renewed funding for the Mellon Multidisciplinary Research Program in 2016, for three future projects, which will follow subsequently.
“Architecture and/for the Environment” workshop at CCA, 2017. © CCA
“Talking Pictures, A Circuit” at CCA, 2017. © CCA
Architecture and/for Society, 2015-2016
In the postwar era, the work of architects in the United Kingdom was animated by optimism and a commitment to social responsibility. “Architecture and/for Society” studied this relationship between social transformation and architecture in Britain at a time when architecture positioned itself as a protagonist of reform. Starting from the work of Cedric Price, the research projects recontextualized holdings in the CCA Collection and discussed developments with regard to architectural practice, cultural studies, cybernetic theory, planning, exhibitions, and appropriate technology.
Architecture and/for Photography, 2016-2017
In the digital era we have witnessed a sharp rise in the power of photography as both medium and mediator in visual culture. The main objective of “Architecture and/for Photography” was to create a broader and historical understanding of the critical role photography plays in shaping architecture and its discourse today. Individual research projects reimagined the CCA Collection, which documents the long history of architecture’s engagement with photography, and addressed how best to foster contemporary reflection on photographic practice, representation, memory, and media.
Architecture and/for the Environment, 2017-2019
As the effects of man-made climate change are becoming apparent, it is now clear that architecture needs an environmental history. “Architecture and/for the Environment” proposes to move beyond the narratives of inevitability and apocalypse encouraged by a positivistic architectural discourse on the environment. The research projects collaboratively activate and update the CCA Collection by challenging dominant historical tropes, and they rethink the discipline by offering a different understanding of how architecture and the environment have been co-produced.
Centring Africa: Postcolonial Perspectives on Architecture, 2019-2020
The history of architecture would look different if Africa is positioned at the centre. “Centring Africa” focuses on architecture’s complex developments in sub-Saharan African countries after independence. Catalyzed by the recent arrival of three collections at the CCA, the project asks, first, how to understand the historical role of architecture in decolonization, neocolonialism, globalization, and their manifestations across the continent, at local and regional scales; and, second, how this understanding can challenge established methods and disciplinary conventions of architectural and urban studies.
1973 : Sorry, Out of Gas
Featuring over 350 objects including architectural drawings, photographs, books and pamphlets, archival television footage, and historical artifacts, the exhibition 1973: Sorry, Out of Gas mapped the architectural response to the energy crisis and its relevance today.
An Afternoon with Cedric Price no. 1: A CCA c/o Lisboa event
Guests joined researchers from the “Architecture and/for Society” project to discuss the work of Cedric Price on the occasion of the exhibition Obra / Building Site, presented as part of the fourth Lisbon Triennale, and in celebration of the publication Price Works 1952–2003: A Forward-Minded Retrospective.
An Afternoon with Cedric Price no. 2
To highlight the importance of the Cedric Price fonds, one of the most consulted archives at the CCA, Samantha Hardingham, Whitney Moon, Kathy Velikov, and Mark Wigley were invited to present their individual motivations and methodologies for researching Cedric Price’s key projects.
Francesca Ammon based her article for the CCA website, “Captioning Milton-Parc,” on her research project for “Architecture and/for Photography.” The article narrates the role played by the work of photographers David Miller and Clara Gutsche, two residents of Milton-Parc in Montreal, in preserving the neighborhood’s community in the face of urban renewal.
To kick off “Architecture and/for the Environment,” in December 2016, the CCA invited project advisors Daniel Abramson and Imre Szeman to present two key concepts that reconceive the environment in the history of architecture: obsolescence and petrocultures.
It’s All Happening So Fast
In an age of unprecedented human impact on the planet, certain countries stand out for their privileged positions and the complexity of their relationships with the land. Presenting case studies of environmental disasters and activist responses, the exhibition It’s All Happening So Fast explored Canadians’ often conflicted and conflicting views of the “natural” environment.
For the second workshop for “Architecture and/for the Environment” in June 2018, the CCA invited scholars from diverse disciplinary backgrounds to join the researchers in a series of public conversations questioning the ways in which they approach the concepts of Energy/Power, Control/Systems, Body/Exposure, and Post-human/Nature through their own work and in their respective disciplines.
Keywords for the Environment
The Toolkit for Today program at the CCA invites scholars to open up their toolboxes and share the methods and concepts with which they work on contemporary issues in architecture and related disciplines. In 2016, the Toolkit for Today focused on “Keywords for the Environment,” with Ashley Dawson speaking on Resilience, Reinhold Martin on Power Rafico Ruiz on the North, and Jane Hutton on Materials.
“Past(el) Digital” documents the resurgence of the visual qualities of early digital culture in contemporary internet culture. It is one of four articles produced for the CCA website by Mika Savela as part of his research project for “Architecture and/for Photography.”
For the event “Talking Pictures,” organized in the framework of the “Architecture and/for Photography” project, Sophie Dars and Carlo Menon, Stefano Graziani, and Yasufumi Nakamori presented strategies for reimagining and employing visual formats such as the photo essay, the photo novel, and the photo exhibition.
Talking Pictures, a Circuit
“Talking Pictures, a Circuit” concluded the “Architecture and/for Photography” project. In a nine-part circuit of installations and interventions travelling throughout the spaces of the CCA, researchers reflected on the critical and creative relationship between photography and architecture.
Which Architectural History for Africa, Today?
In November 2017 the CCA hosted a public seminar on the historiography of architecture in sub-Saharan Africa to encourage the history of architecture to contend with the world beyond the Global North, and to interrogate and adapt the discipline’s tools, protocols, and premises accordingly.