reading architecture
literary imagination and architectural experience

A symposium organized by the History and Theory Program, School of Architecture, McGill University and hosted at Benaki Museum in Athens, Greece under the auspices of the Hellenic Institute of Architecture

Call for Papers

Professor Aulis Blomstedt used to advise his students at the Helsinki University of Technology that the capacity to imagine situations of life is a more important talent for an architect than the gift of fantasizing space. From the small scale of the domestic environment to the level of the city, literature has systematically provided us with detailed and compelling explorations of situations of life. As sociologist Robert Park famously declared we are mainly indebted to writers of fiction for our more intimate knowledge of contemporary urban life. A primary means of representation of human reality, dealing since the 19th century even with questions that had traditionally been the province of philosophy, literature focuses on the ever-changing and difficult to grasp conditions of human life, the very life that buildings, places and cities, surround, enclose, and enable.

Departing from this conviction, the symposium wishes to explore how the literary production of modernity can enlighten architects and urban planners in understanding and valorizing qualitative characteristics of the contemporary life they are called to design for. These situations of life could include a focused look into people’s everyday private and public lives, small or big scale events in human-built environments, socio-cultural and political phenomena in urban contexts. We understand these situations as place-bound (place specific) architectural experiences that allow for a qualitative, emotional and embodied apprehension of the world.

The symposium invites papers on the above categories of architectural experiences as captured in literature, to open up a discussion on how they can inform and inspire architects and architecture nowadays. It also invites papers with a pedagogical focus, exploring how the emotional, intersubjective and place-bounded worlds that literature reveals to us, can enrich architectural design and education.

Please submit both an abstract of 300 words and a C.V. in English at: by 15th of January 2015


Τuesday 16th June 2015 :

The symposium will start with a round-table conversation on the subject matter, run by Professor Alberto Pérez-Gómez, founding director of the History and Theory Program of the School of Architecture (McGill University), Angeliki Sioli and Yoonchun Jung. The conversation’s main interlocutors, Caroline Dionne, Phoebe Giannisi, Klaske Havik, Mari Lending, Franco Pisani and David Spurr will offer their own insights on the topic, raise and answer questions and open up a dialogue with the attendants. Doing justice to a symposium’s very meaning, a convivial dinner will conclude the event’s first day.

Two days of paper sessions chaired by the six guests will follow, in which all the participants will talk about their work in detail, discuss their points of view and exchange ideas.

Wednesday 17th June 2015 :

Session 1 (9:30am - 11:00am): Reading everyday (un)familiar places
(Chair: Phoebe Giannisi, Responder: Yoonchun Jung)

Architecture Drawn Out of Bruno Schulz’s Poetic Prose
Anca Matyiku (School of Architecture, McGill University)

Reading Boredom in the Space of Architecture: ‘The Minotaur or The Stop in Oran’ by Albert Camus
Christian Parreno (Oslo School of Architecture and Design)

Thresholds of the familiar: a discussion of Axolotl and Blow-Up by Julio Cortázar
Micah Rutenberg (School of Architecture, Woodbury University)

Coffee Break

Session 2 (11:30am – 1:00pm): Reading Urban Lives
(Chair: Klaske Havik, Responder: Panos Leventis, Hammons School of Architecture, Drury University)

“A Brilliant Invention:” Urban Spaces in the Fiction of Ian McEwan and Graham Swift
Anastasia Logotheti (DEREE, The American College of Greece)

Traces of Christiania. A topographical reading of Knut Hamsun´s Hunger
Mathilde Simonsen Dahl (Oslo School of Architecture and Design)

Writing the City: Søren Kierkegaard’s Urban Walks in Copenhagen
Henriette Steiner (Section for Landscape Architecture and Planning, University of Copenhagen)

Lunch Break

Session 3 (2:30pm – 4:30pm): Reading on design and pedagogy
(Chair: Franco Pisani, Responder: Louise Pelletier, School of Design, University of Quebec in Montreal)

The Gesture of Drawing in Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s Le Petit Prince
Jason Crow (School of Architecture, Louisiana State University)

Walking and Archiving: Locus Solus in Elephant and Castle.
Panos Kouros (Department of Architecture, University of Patras)

Melvilla: An Underline Reading
Marc Neveu (School of Architecture, Woodbury University)

Conceptual Conjunctions Between Literature and Architecture: Philippe Hamon’s Hypothesis and its Consequences for Spatial Design
Nikolaos Ion Terzoglou (School of Architecture, National Technical University of Athens)

Thursday 18th June 2015 :

Session 1 (9:30am – 11:00am): Reading the other-wordly
(Chair: Caroline Dionne, Responder: Alberto Pérez-Gómez)

Perpetual Motion Machine: Paul Scheerbart’s Fantastic Story of Futuristic Architectural Experiences
Sevil Enginsoy Ekinci (Department of Architecture, Kadir Has University)

Lost and Longing: The Sense of Space in E.M. Forster’s The Machine Stops
Susana Oliveira (School of Architecture, University of Lisbon)

Elliptical Architecture: The Unsaid and the Incomplete as conditions for Architectural Intrigue within the Literary Text
Esteban Restrepo Restrepo (Université Paris 8/ École Nationale Supérieure d´Architecture de Paris La Villette)

Coffee Break

Session 2 (11:30am – 1:00pm): Reading on historical perspectives
(Chair: Mari Lending, Responder: Angeliki Sioli)

Generic Subversions
Lily Chi (School of Architecture, Cornell University)

W.G.Sebald’s Austerlitz: Architecture as a Bridge between the Lost Past and the Present
Rumiko Handa (College of Architecture, University of Nebraska)

Enchantment and Entrapment: The Architecture of Poe
Lisa Landrum (Department of Architecture, University of Manitoba)

Lunch Break

Session 3 (2:30pm – 4:30pm): Reading urban redefinitions
(Chair: David Spurr, Responder: Christos Kakalis, Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, University of Edinburgh)

From text to place: How Orhan Pamuk changed Istanbul?
Figen Kivilcim (Department of Architecture, Anadolu University)

Cognitive maps and topographical narrations
Fabiano Micocci (Independent Researcher)

Building the Socialist Paper City: A Study of Interwar Sci-Fi Literature in the USSR.
Stavros Alifragkis (Hellenic Open University / Hellenic Army Academy)

Modern Thessaloniki: Topographies of change and memory
Eleni Bastea (School of Architecture and Planning, University of New Mexico)

If you wish to download the poster of the symposium, please click here

Important Dates

Announcement of symposium’s call: 15th October 2014

Abstract Submission: 15th January 2015

Notification of acceptance: 15th February 2015

Full papers submission: 15th May 2015

Symposium: 16th June 2015 - 18th June 2015

For any inquires please contact:

Scientific Committee

Organizers :

Alberto Pérez-Gómez
Saidye Rosner Bronfman Professor of the History of Architecture, McGill University, Montreal

Alberto Pérez-Gómez was born in Mexico City in 1949, where he studied architecture and practiced. He did postgraduate work at Cornell University, and was awarded an M.A. and a Ph.D. by the University of Essex (England). He has taught at universities in Mexico, Houston, Syracuse, Toronto, and at London’s Architectural Association. In 1983 he became Director of Carleton University’s School of Architecture. Since January 1987 he has occupied the Bronfman Chair of Architectural History at McGill University, where he founded the History and Theory Post-Professional (Master’s and Doctoral) Programs.
Pérez-Gómez has lectured extensively around the world and is the author of numerous articles published in major periodicals and books. His book Architecture and the Crisis of Modern Science (MIT Press, 1983) won the Hitchcock Award in 1984. Later books include Polyphilo or The Dark Forest Revisited (1992), Architectural Representation and the Perspective Hinge (co-authored with Louise Pelletier, 1997), and most recently, Built upon Love: Architectural Longing after Ethics and Aesthetics (2006). At present he is working on a book titled Attunement: In Search of Architectural Meaning, examining and contextualizing historically and philosophically the concepts of atmosphere and mood, and arguing for the primacy of the linguistic imagination in architecture. Pérez-Gómez is also co-editor (with Stephen Parcell) of a book series entitled CHORA: Intervals in the Philosophy of Architecture. The seventh volume is due to appear in 2015.

Angeliki Sioli
History and Theory Program, School of Architecture, McGill University, Montreal

Angeliki Sioli obtained her professional Diploma in Architecture from the University of Thessaly, Greece in 2005 and was granted a post-professional Master's degree in Architectural Theory by the National Technical University of Athens in 2008. From 2005 to 2009 she worked as an architect as well as designer of small-scale objects, books and stage sets for dance performances. She is currently completing her Ph.D. in the History and Theory Program McGill University’s School of Architecture. An unrepentant devotee of literature, her theoretical research seeks connections between architecture and city-novels in the public realm of the early 20th century European city, focusing on aspects of embodied perception of place in the urban environment. In the design and history courses she teaches at McGill she explores how literary imagination and poetic language can open up new possibilities for architecture while with a similar interest she has been running the last two years as research manager, the theoretical project "Architecture's Literary Context; an exploration of the urban environment through its manifestation in the modern novel" (supervisor Prof. Alberto Pérez-Gómez) funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSRCH). Her work has been presented in professional and interdisciplinary conferences as well as architectural publications.

Yoonchun Jung
History and Theory Program, School of Architecture, McGill University, Montreal

Yoonchun is originally from South Korea. He received his bachelor's degree in architecture from Hongik University (2000), M.Arch from Cornell University (2006) and Ph.D. in Architecture from McGill University (2014). His research interest focuses on various social, cultural and political phenomena in modern Asian architecture and cities. He taught at Cornell University from 2004 to 2006, The State University of New York at Buffalo from 2006 to 2008 and McGill University in 2010. From 2012 to 2013, he conducted Ph.D. research in Korean architectural modernity at Kyoto University as a Japan Foundation fellow. He has won numerous awards and research grants, and his work has been accepted by many journals, including the forthcoming Chora 7 (Edited by Alberto Pérez-Gómez and Stephen Parcell, McGill-Queen's University Press) and Architecture_MPS (Co-authored with Angeliki Sioli). He is currently teaching and practicing architecture in South Korea while seeking "situations of life and architectural experiences" in modern Korean literature.

Guests :

Caroline Dionne
Scientist and research coordinator at ALICE, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale Lausanne

Caroline Dionne is a scientist and research coordinator at ALICE laboratory, Institute of Architecture, Ecole polytechnique fédérale Lausanne (EPFL) where she teaches within the doctoral program (EDAR) and at Masters level. She holds a PhD in the History & Theory of Architecture from McGill University, Montreal. In her thesis, she explored connections between spatial perception and language in the literary and scientific works of 19th century author Lewis Carroll / Charles L. Dodgson. She has conducted research at Mcgill University, the Institut du Recherche en l’Histoire de l’Architecture (IRHA), and in the context of the 2013-14 Visiting Scholars Program at the Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA), Montreal. Her current enquiries concern potential relationships between language theories and architectural discourses, with focus on the notion of usage and the impact of scientific positivism in the late modern context. She has published articles in, among others,Public, ETC Montreal, Chora 4: Intervals in the philosophy of Architecture, Architecture and Authoship (London: Black Dog, 2006), and La Revue Malaquais. Writer and editor for architecture at Lausanne-based specialized journal Tracés(SIA) from 2007 to 2012, she is also co-founder of and artistic coordinator at Espace TILT, an independent contemporary art space based in Renens, Switzerland.

Phoebe Giannisi
Associate Professor, Department of Architecture, Polytechnic School, University of Thessaly

Phoebe Giannisi is an Associate Professor at Volos Department of Architecture. She holds a PhD on Langues, Histoires et Civilisations des Mondes Anciens from Lyon II- Lumiere. She teaches design and literature poetics related to urban space and landscape. She is involved in public art practices. In theory and practice, she is interested to the performative, emotional and acoustic dimension of poetry and its connection to land and place. In 2010 she was co-curator for the Greek Pavilion of the 12th International Architecture Exhibition of Venice (La Biennale diVenezia) with the project: “The Ark. Old Seeds for New Metropolitan Practices”. In 2012 she presented at the National Museum of Modern Art in Athens in a solo exhibition her poetic, video and sound installation TETTIX. Her publications include books on poetry: Sea urchins, (Athens: 1995), Ramazan, (Athens: 1997), Loops, Nefeli Editions, (Athens: 2005), Homerica, Kedros Editions, (Athens: 2009), tettix ligyrenkateheueat’aoiden, chapbook (2012), Tettix, Gavrielides Editions (2012), EAR, chapbook (Athens: 2014), and theory: Architecture grecque classique. La construction de la modernité (co‐author with Alexander Tzonis) Flammarion Editions, Paris: 2004 (published also in English and German), Récits des voies. Chants etcheminements en Grèce archaïque, Jérôme Millon Editions, Grenoble: 2006.

Klaske Havik
Associate Professor of Method and Analysis, Faculty of Architecture, Delft University of Technology

Klaske Havik is associate professor of Architecture, Methods & Analysis at Delft University of Technology. She studied architecture in Delft and Helsinki, and literary writing in Amsterdam. Her research interest is in the experience, use and imagination of places, and she seeks for connections with other disciplines to arrive at new methods for analysis and design. With Tom Avermaete and Hans Teerds, she edited the anthology Architectural Positions: Architecture, Modernity and the Public Sphere (SUN Publishers, 2009). Her PhD research (TU Delft, 2012) developed a literary approach to architecture and urban regeneration, proposing the three notions description, transcription and prescription. Her book based upon this investigation, entitled Urban Literacy. Reading and Writing Architecture appeared with nai010 publishers (2014). Havik writes regularly for architectural reviews in the Netherlands and Nordic countries and is editor of architecture journal OASE. As a practicing architect, she has been involved in the redevelopment of ship wharf NDSM in Amsterdam. Havik’s literary work appeared in Dutch poetry collections and literary magazines.

Mari Lending
Professor at the Department of Form, Theory, and History, Oslo School of Architecture and Design

Mari Lending is a professor of architectural theory and history at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design, and a senior researcher in the international research projects The Printed and the Built: Architecture and Public Debate in Modern Europe and Place and Displacement: Exhibiting Architecture, run out of OCCAS (the Oslo Center for Critical Architectural Studies) at the school in Oslo. She is currently working on a book on 19th century plaster cast collections, with the working title: Monuments in Flux: Plaster Casts as Mass Medium. She recently published, with Mari Hvattum, the book Modelling Time: The Permanent Collection, 1925–2014 (Oslo: Torpedo Press, 2014), drawing on the exhibition “Model as Ruin” at the House of Artists in Oslo.

Franco Pisani
ISI Florence, International Studies Institute

Strongly tempted by the expanded opportunities offered by the ‘contamination’ of apparently distant themes and disciplines, he includes within the profession of architecture research activities and didactic experiences. He lives and works mainly in Firenze, where he runs his own professional office FRANCO PiSANi ARCHiTETTO, practicing design at all scales “from the spoon to the city” and for public and private clients. As an architectural educator he has taught both as professor and lecturer in different universities and schools in Italy and abroad. From 2004 he teaches studio and theory seminars for the architecture program of the International Studies Institute, ISI Florence, where he coordinates the Marywood University School of Architecture abroad program. In 2012 he co-founded the AIU_ Agency for Interior Urbanism, an international collaborative platform committed to design exploration and dialogue to address the need for alternative approaches to urban planning. In 2014 he has been appointed External Examiner for the school of Interior Architecture of the University of Westminster in London UK.

David Spurr
Emeritus Professor of English and Comparative Literature, University of Geneva

David Spurr is Emeritus Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Geneva. He has written several books on modern literature, with an emphasis on literature’s relation to modernity and to the other arts. In 2015 he has visiting appointments at the universities of Innsbruck and Iceland, respectively, where his teaching focuses on literary and philosophical critiques of the contemporary built environment. His recent book, Architecture and Modern Literature (2012), was awarded the Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Prize for Comparative Literary Studies by the Modern Language Association of America. Other works include Conflicts in Consciousness: T.S. Eliot’s Poetry and Criticism (1984); The Rhetoric of Empire (1993); and Joyce and the Scene of Modernity (2003). He is co-editor of the essay collection The Space of English (2005), on the representation of space in literature, and of Praharfeast: James Joyce in Prague (2012). His work on modern literature has been published in such journals as PMLA, MLN, Journal of Modern Literature, Poetry, Poétique, Etudes Littéraires, Raritan Quarterly, Criticism, Centennial Review, Novel, Modern Language Review, James Joyce Quarterly, New Comparison, the Rivista di Letterature moderne et comparate, and Chora: Intervals in the Philosophy of Architecture.


Benaki Museum, 1 Koumbari St. &
Vas. Sofias Ave., Athens, Greece
For any inquires please contact: