School of Design

Postgraduate research student profiles


Sally Farrah

Start date

Feb 2014

Submission date

Feb 2017

Curriculum vitae

Sally Farrah CV
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Updated 23 Oct 2014

Sally Farrah

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The Museum to museum-like urbanism: The translation of 1970s European architectural discourses on the city by a second generation of Western discourse from 1980 to 1995 through the medium of museological and/or institutional artefacts


The Enlightenment institution of the public museum remains within contemporary culture, and in particular Euro-American architectural culture, as a preeminent site for the representation of culture. This position is not, however, reflected in the critical attention paid to the institution. While there has been in the post-World War II period a large output of built and projected museum projects, there has been a disproportionately small body of critical writing on the increasingly blurred relationships of the museum’s institutional form and functions. This observation highlights the need to disseminate the discursive inter-relationships the museum embodies within architectural culture; ‘the presence of the past’, modernity’s discourse on the fragment, and representation and aesthetic interpretation.

This thesis presents a comprehensive study of a history of postmodern philosophical ideas applied to the subject of the museum. This project is significant in advancing existing scholarship on a first generation of architectural theoretical discourse from 1970 to 1980 in America and Europe from the critical perspective of museum-like urbanism. Furthermore, this project is innovative in producing original scholarship on an overlooked yet integral period from 1980 to 1995 in the United Kingdom, exploring the dialectical perspectives of museological institutions and their production of museological and/or institutional artefacts.

Critical discourse in these two generations emerges within the context and architectural space of museological institutions. In this thesis, museological institutions are defined as academic institutions or independently published journals, which produce institutional and/or museological artefacts defined as publications and exhibitions. The methodology of the thesis selects post-war museological artefacts that have replaced the public museum as sites of cultural reception and frameworks of discursive formations on architecture and urbanism.

Three case studies, 9H journal, the AA Files, and DAIDALOS journal are selected as sites of production on the discourse of museum-like urbanism. The study of these artefacts illuminates the historical, theoretical and aesthetic contexts and the resultant discursive formations that have shaped architecture’s culture industry and schools of thought from 1980 until today. This project offers a timely contribution to the discipline, furthering knowledge on the continued interest in the dialectics of architecture and urbanism and introducing original scholarship on the operative discourse of museum-like urbanism.

Why my research is important

Original scholarship on the period 1980 to 1995 is a significant moment in global architectural discourse for two reasons. Firstly, this period occurs mostly prior to the 1993 launch of the World Wide Web, which created an irreversible gap between intellectual and cultural history. The institutional artefact of the architectural school journal preceding digital publishing represents the middle ground of this transition in the complex relationships of architectural education and production. Secondly, this thesis bridges an overlooked gap between the period 1980 to 1995 and the state of architectural production and theory today, aiming to be a practical and useful resource for both contemporary architectural theory and practice.

The significance of revisiting the period of 1970 to 1980 in Europe and America, and introducing new scholarship on 1980 to 1995 in the United Kingdom is significant in Continental and American historiography for several reasons. Firstly, the period 1970 to 1980 witnessed a change to traditional architectural history and practice, promoted through publications and the formation of new pedagogical structures in America, Europe and the United Kingdom. Architecture’s theoretical ‘crisis’ begins in Euro-America in the 1970s, at the same moment of political and economic crises that resulted in a slowing of built production. Coupled with the desire to improve the public realm of the city, this specific cultural climate inevitably led to a moment of critical reflection in architectural theory, and the creation of new publications and institutions. The second generation from 1980 to 1995 extend this premise of ‘postmodernist intellection’ to what we understand today as architectural theory.

The study of diverse discursive formations specifically within the United Kingdom becomes significant, as Britain’s relationships to America and Europe is complex. Historically, the United Kingdom is linked by language, traditions and common inheritances with America, however geographically it is linked to Europe. Hence architectural institutions within the United Kingdom from 1980 to 1995 were able to exploit this distinctive identity as ‘in-between’ America and Europe. Differing degrees of this exploitation of American and European discursive formations are framed in the selected institutional and/or museological artefacts, therefore providing a rich source of scholarship.

AA Files, 9H and DAIDALOS journals; institutional, semi-autonomous and autonomous academic architectural journals