Research Project
The Architecture Competition as “Contact Zone”: The Shinkenchiku Residential Design Competition, 1965–2018

Research Project
Cathelijne Nuijsink
Supervisors: Tom Avermaete, Joan Ockman, Mary McLeod, Esra Akcan, Mark Jarzombek, Hilde Heynen, Kathleen James-Chakraborty

This research project investigates the potential offered by cross-cultural “contact zones” to write a new architectural history. It identifies the international idea-competition as a productive site for the exchange of knowledge and interests between different architecture cultures, in the process producing as much disagreement as, in the words of Mary Louise Pratt, “exhilarating moments of wonder, revelation, mutual understanding and new wisdom”. More than a mere analysis of the competition results, the focus is on the nuanced processes of effect and repercussion that follow when different visions of a common design theme meet and interact. Through investigating the interconnectedness between actors (organisers, judges, contestants), tools (competition theme, design entries, media) and “after-effects” of the idea-competition on the local and international architectural debate (discussions, public opinion), this study elucidates the entangled and reciprocal dialogues that follow when an international cohort of architects investigates a common design problem. Shedding light on the process of the transculturation of architectural ideas, it advances the notion that a single competition theme can infiltrate and merge – in appropriated form – with the design knowledge of others, and, as such, create entirely new experiences.

Project funding:
H2020 Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship

Link to project website


Dr. Cathelijne Nuijsink