The authorship of a plastic artist is granted by the tangible continuity between the stroke and the finished work. That physical connection smoothed the way to making the task of erasing oneself the primary quest of modernist abstraction. Architecture followed a different course. Its inherent mediation by and obligation to drawing, so clearly identifed by Robin Evans, has historically prevented any automatic recognition of the author in his or her work. In recent decades, the digitalization of the practice of architecture has ultimately diluted any record of authorship in its forms of representation, by eliminating the link between the design and a handwritten signature that substantiated its legal validity. Where is the record of creativity to be found today?
Sole authorship is more an exception than a rule in architecture. The involvement of a variable number of partners, collaborators, specialists, and even clients –not only in the design but also in the decisions around how a project is to be developed and implemented– attests to the inadequacy of narratives extolling a grand master builder’s single authorship. Most of the short number of highly reputed names accorded authority in the discipline are always backed by other participants who have not been su ciently acknowledged and who are even more difficult to identify in today’s environment, due to the constantly rising number of team members.
Recent studies on the adaptive reuse of built heritage have shown that the life of buildings is always subject to change, which may sometimes lead the original author to come into play years later, often without the same team. Other times, political and social circumstances different from those prevailing at the project’s inception, the mere passage of time in buildings lasting many generations, or even inevitable changes in ownership may entail the development of new projects on top of the original architecture and the appearance of new superimposed authorship.
Major museums have devoted several decades to researching the fate of works of art from the time of their creation.Provenance, or the life of a work of art written in retrospect, recounts the history of its changes of ownership over time, while shedding light on its creation, its circulation, and its present value. Translating provenance research to architecture –constructing a history that discerns the variability of a building’s states and its conditions of ownership, veiled behind the sum of layers involved– may also constitute an operative frame for accrediting authorship otherwise relegated to oblivion.
This call for articles aims to bring together a suite of research outcomes and critical essays which analyse historical and contemporary case studies that may help distinguish voices and conceptualise authorship that has been silenced or superimposed over time. The goal is to critically ascertain the real origin of architectural projects, to measure the extent of individual authorship in corporate practice, to reveal the identity of other authors who may have played an instrumental role in project gestation, and to integrate insufficiently acknowledged contributions into a more diverse, inclusive, and plural history of architecture.
The guest editor and the scientific committee invite both young and experienced architects and researchers to submit papers (see editorial rules) in English or Spanish by 15 February 2021. Examples of possible subjects are listed below. Diversity and the speculative nature of proposals will be viewed favourably:
Architecture involving male and female architects / Teamwork, individual acknowledgement / Sole and collective authorship / First-line, second-line authors / Appearances and absences / Assigned roles, concealed authorship / Other authors, men and women / Strategies for acknowledging authorship and enhancing visibility / Masters, disciples, and partners / Cooperation, association, technical consultancy / Vertical hierarchy and horizontal relations / The author and her oeuvre, glass ceilings / The author and her signature / Copyright, intellectual property / Responsibility and credit / Intellectual property in large teams / Superimposition of layers and loss of authorship / Attribution versus authorship / Attribution and authenticity / Discrepancies between e ort and acknowledgement / The client’s role in project implementation / Thinking, drawing, building / Architects and industrialists during construction / Architects as creators of discourse / Critical reception of a work over time