SAHGB-IHR Architectural History Seminar
Dr Matthew Walker (QMUL) and Dr Neal Shasore (University of Liverpool in London) are convening a new seminar in architectural history at the Institute of Historical Research (IHR), co-funded by the Society. This new series of research seminars in the capital, will be led by a range of architectural historians working across periods and regions, using a wide range of methodologies. We will meet three times a semester at The University of London’s Institute for Historical Research (in Senate House in Bloomsbury), papers will last 45-50 minutes followed by questions and refreshments afterwards. All are welcome to attend.
Seminar 2: 18.00 - 19.00 (followed by drinks and discussion till 20.00), Thursday 14 November, Pollard Room,
Senate House, Malet Street, London
The Civic and the Sacred: Alvar Aalto’s Churches and Parish Centres in Wolfsburg, 1960–68
Sofia Singler (University of Cambridge)
This paper considers Alvar Aalto’s two church and parish centre projects in Wolfsburg in light of the architectural, political and sociocultural contexts that framed their design and construction in post-war Germany. The study interrogates how architect and parish came together to build the ecclesiastical complexes of Heilig-Geist (1960–62) and Stephanus (1963–68), and how the parties interacted and engaged with widely debated issues in church architecture and urban planning. Close analysis of the buildings and their design processes, based on site visits as well as the study of architectural drawings and models, shows that Heilig-Geist and Stephanus acquire sacred character primarily through the connections they establish between interior and exterior space. The dynamic between inside and outside relates the buildings to key ideas in contemporaneous church architectural theory concerning inward- and outward-looking church-building, part of the broader discourse on the relationship between the sacred and the profane.
This seminar will double as the launch for the latest issue of the SAHGB's journal, Architectural History, in which Sofia's article on this subject - co-authored with Dr Maximilian Sternberg (University of Cambridge) will feature.
Seminar 1: 17.30 - 18.30 (followed by drinks and discussion till 19.30), Thursday 24 October, Room N304
Senate House, Malet Street, London
Histories of Whitechapel; a project in co-produced and digital urban history
Shahed Saleem (University of Westminster)
The Survey of London has just completed an AHRC funded major three and a half year study of Whitechapel. The project has involved the Survey’s traditional methods of detailed and fine grained urban history research and writing for every building in the parish. Furthermore, this project has also been an experiment in the co-production of urban history, by engaging with people, communities and organisations on the ground in Whitechapel. This has required the use of new methods of engagement and participation, from oral histories, to story-telling, to schools' workshops. These methods are explored as a way of accessing narratives and accounts that would lead to a more diverse understanding of how the built environment of Whitechapel has been shaped, how it is used and understood. The intended result is a multi-vocal, diverse and co-produced urban history of a place, which has been compiled onto a specially designed website from where it can be accessed publicly, and where all content is open source.
Shahed Saleem was the public participation lead on the project, and in this talk he will explain the range of engagement projects and methods that were used over the three years. He will reflect on how these methods and practices have led to a particular account and understanding of place, as well as on the dynamics between researchers and participants. The bigger questions of the project will be considered; how is urban history made, owned, consumed, and disseminated, and what are the complexities inherent in the contemporary production of historical knowledge.
Institute of Historical Research
Malet Street, London, WC1E 7HU
Please ask for room directions at reception on arrival.