Isabelle Doucet

2015 Visiting Research Fellow

Fellows Architectural Engineering (ARCH) Cosmopolis Centre for Urban Research

University of Manchester, United Kingdom / From August to December 2015 / The city as a conceptual-empirical assemblage: counter-projects

Isabelle Doucet is Lecturer in Architecture and Urbanism at the Manchester Architecture Research Centre (MARC), University of Manchester. Her research focuses on the relationship between politics, aesthetics, and social critique in postwar architecture. She is particularly interested in the repercussions of the 'post-political' and 'post-theoretical' turn for architecture, which she studies through both historical and contemporary cases. She has co-edited the special issue Agency in Architecture (Footprint Journal, 2009, with K. Cupers) and the edited volume Transdisciplinary Knowledge Production in Architecture and Urbanism (Springer, 2011, with N. Janssens). Her research has been published in Architectural Theory Review, City Culture and Society, Belgeo, Footprint, and Conditions, and as book chapters in edited volumes. She is currently completing a book manuscript on the practice turn in architecture, using case studies from Brussels after 1968.

During her 2015 visiting fellowship at the Brussels Centre for Urban Studies, Isabelle Doucet focused on architectural counter-projects in 1970s Brussels. Within the wider, international, counter-cultural mood of the time, counter-projects adopted a unique position. Not only were they mobilised in both activism and architectural culture; they also combined the critique of an existing situation with the formulation of alternative proposals. Anchored in the local urban activism of the Atelier de Recherche et d’Action Urbaines (ARAU), the architectural education of La Cambre, and the intellectual-historical work of the Archives d’Architecture Moderne (AAM), counter-projects offer instructive vehicles for studying architectural critique as assemblages of urban activism, disciplinary critique, and formal and aesthetic test-grounds. During her fellowship, Isabelle expanded and refined her on-going research on counter-projects and used this occasion to study the relevance of pragmatist-relational perspectives for architecture, in both analytical and projective terms.