Literature Program

Friday, February 17, 2012 at 4:00 p.m.


University at Buffalo Humanities Institute and Hallwalls present

Hadas Steiner

Scholars at Hallwalls: Habitat and Home: a study in co-evolution

Hadas Steiner
Associate Professor
Department of Architecture

Habitat and Home: a study in co-evolution

The projected manuscript will provide an historical analysis of the evolving use of the terms "habitat," and by extension "ecology," in architectural discourse, from the abortive "Charter of Habitat" proposed by Le Corbusier at the seventh meeting of CIAM in 1949, through the work of John McHale in the 1970's. It will show how the concepts of habitat and ecology entered the architectural discourse through the biological sciences, and how the understanding of these terms changed throughout the 1950s, 60s and 70s as they were variously reinterpreted and employed by Peter and Alison Smithson, Cedric Price and John McHale respectively.

Today, discussions of habitat and ecology in architecture are largely circumscribed by guidelines for environmental sustainability that evince naîveté with respect to the conceptual evolution of these terms. In returning to the radical practices that originally addressed issues of habitat and ecology in the architectural context, this study will provide a theoretical foundation upon which contemporary experimental practices can build a more nuanced response to the environmental needs of today.