Architectural Environment-Worlds, lecture by Hélène Frichot

In the framework of the GRAZ Architecture Lectures '17, the IZK – Institute for Contemporary Art invited Hélène Frichot.

photography by mikael olsson

photography by mikael olsson

Architectural Environment-Worlds
The lines we draw around things determine what is inside, and what is outside, as such a line is a threshold that is more or less permeable, constituting through its materialisation an archetypal architectural gesture. With this lecture I commence with a curious dialogue between father and daughter, a so-called ‘metalogue’ composed by the anthropologist Gregory Bateson that is entitled with the deceptively simple question: Why do things have outlines? From the line we draw to define some thing or things – to include and to exclude – I proceed to the idiosyncratic character of the biological philosopher Jakob von Uexküll and his story-book illustrations of the life worlds of various creatures, from ticks, to dogs, to small children and astronomers, and how each creature is circumscribed by its own universe of value, its own existential territory, its own ‘umwelt’ or what I call ‘environment-world’. From the environment-world as a concept it is a small step to the question of ecology, and here I introduce the philosopher of science, Isabelle Stenger’s ecology of practices in order to finally wheel in a Swedish Trojan Horse full of feminist theorists and practitioners in architecture. I will conclude with an account of an event that was convened last November by Critical Studies in Architecture, at the Royal Institute of Technology, KTH Stockholm, which sought to draw different lines around things, and acknowledge other ecologies of practice. The event in question was the 13th international AHRA (Architectural Humanities Research Association) conference, entitled: Architecture and Feminisms: Ecologies, Economies, Technologies.

 Dr Hélène Frichot is an Associate Professor and Docent in the School of Architecture, KTH, Stockholm, where she is the director of Critical Stu­dies in Architecture. She recently co-convened the 13th interna­tional AHRA (Architectural Humanities Research Association) conference (see, which culmi­nates in an edited book with Routledge, Architecture and Feminisms: Ecologies, Economies, Technologies (2017). While on a Riksbankens Jubileumsfond fun­ded sabbatical throughout 2017, she is working on a monograph for Bloomsbury, entitled Architectural Environment-Worlds, Things and Thinkables (forthcoming 2018). Hélène comes from a background in both architecture and philosophy.

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The GRAZ Architecture Lectures '16 is the symposium of the Architecture Faculty of Graz University of Technology and brings ten international architects, artists and theorists to Graz to present their recent projects in city planning, cultural theory and social practice at the intestices of architecture, art and design. The symposium starts at 9:15, the full programme is availabe at the Architecture Faculty website.