• "As Hardly Found" in the Art of Tropical Architecture
    Albert Brenchat-Aguilar
    Architectural Association, London
    Jan 20, 2023 to Mar 25, 2023
    Albert Brenchat-Aguilar

Unknown student, “DTS New Year Greeting Card,” ca. 1969. Courtesy the Architectural Association Archives

This exhibition explores four ad-hoc decolonial strategies that reveal, unearth, repair, and reappropriate the archives of the Architectural Association’s Department of Tropical Studies (DTS) after 70 years of operation. From the 1950s–60s, the DTS’s work in the Global South included a reorganizion of architectural institutions; regulation of planning practice and legislation; and training of leading architects from Ghana, Nigeria, India, Singapore, and other countries. DTS shaped a particularly Western perception of the Global South that manifested in their approach to the arts—highlighting Abstract Expressionism, promoting primitivist approaches to African arts, and marginalized non-Western artists collaborating with DTS. Aided by contemporary artists, this exhibition reveals the colonial legacies upon which the present DTS and the artistic eye of contemporary architects rely upon, in order to transform these colonial legacies into decolonial tools.

Albert Brenchat-Aguilar is a lecturer at the Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London (UCL). Previously, he cocurated the public program and publications of the Institute of Advanced Studies, UCL; edited the digital platform Ceramic Architectures; and worked as an architect in Bombas Gens Arts Centre. He is a CHASE-funded doctoral student at Birkbeck and the Architectural Association with the project “Resource: Humans Matter and the Patterns of International Planning ca. 1957–76,” and is also cataloging the archive of educator, architect, and planner Otto Koenigsberger. His coedited volume Wastiary: A bestiary of waste is forthcoming from UCL Press. He has published in Architecture&Culture, Espacio Fronterizo, and The Scottish Left Review; curated shows at UCL and the Polytechnic University of Valencia; and exhibited his work at Museu Nogueira Da Silva in Braga, Portugal.