BOOK LAUNCH: Architecture and Ugliness. Anti-Aesthetics and the Ugly in Postmodern Architecture

Book Launch of Architecture and Ugliness. Anti-Aesthetics and the Ugly in Postmodern Architecture, eds. W. Van Acker and T. Mical (Bloomsbury Academic, 2020). During the book launch the book’s editor, Wouter Van Acker (ULB), will retrace the ugly and the anti-aesthetic as a productive force in postmodern architecture. After this introduction Bart Verschaffel (UGent) will give a talk ‘On Ugliness (in Architecture)’, and Heidi Sohn (TUDelft) will sketch out a ‘minor cartography’ of ‘Monstrous Becomings.

Whatever ‘ugliness’ is, it remains a problematic category in architectural aesthetics – alternately vilified and appropriated, used either to shock or to invert conventions of architecture.

This book presents sixteen new scholarly essays which rethink ugliness in recent architecture – from Brutalism to eclectic postmodern architectural productions. Together they offer a diverse reappraisal of the history and theory of postmodern architecture and design. The essays address both broad theoretical questions on ugliness and postmodern aesthetics, as well as more specific analyses of significant architectural examples dating from the last decades of the twentieth century to illustrate the relation between the aesthetic register of ugliness and aesthetic concepts (such as the monstrous, the ordinary, disgust, the excessive, the grotesque, the interesting, the vernacular, the impure and the sublime).

Talk with Wouter Van Acker, Bart Verschaffel and Heidi Sohn

Wouter Van Acker

Wouter Van Acker is Associate Professor of Architectural History and Theory at the Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB). He is co-director of hortence, ULB’s research centre for architectural history, theory and criticism. His research focus is the history of epistemology and aesthetics in architecture in the twentieth century.