Metaphors are diversly and intricately embedded in architectural practice and discourse.  Precisely for this reason, this volume argues and sets out to explore, how they can be engaged to critically interrogate architecture’s social, cultural and political dimensions – past and present – and to productively challenge and intervene with established perspectives, debates and practices.

Mapping out not just potentials but also addressing the challenges, limitations and dangers inherent in using metaphors in architectural research and practice, the volume prominently illustrates the ambiguity and contradictoriness inherent in both metaphors and the process of engaging and exploiting them. Covering a broad range of historical and geographical cases and concerns, the contributions illustrate effectively that metaphors can expand or narrow our engagement with architecture, and consolidate or legitimise but also destabilise and challenge established social, cultural, disciplinary and political structures, concepts and categories.

With its aim to explore metaphors as both subject and method to critically challenge and expand established practices, perspectives and standards in architectural research and practice, the volume will be of interest for scholars working across the architectural humanities, including architectural history, theory, culture, design and urbanism, as well as for researchers concerned with architecture and the city from fields such as cultural, visual and area studies as well as art history.

List of Contributors


Introduction: Metaphors as Target and Tool in Architectural Research and Practice

Sarah Borree and Stephanie Knuth

Section I

Recovering Metaphorical Histories

Sarah Borree and Stephanie Knuth

Landscape as Metaphor for Post-War Office, Work and Research Architecture from the 1950s to 1970s

Christian Vöhringer

Mechanical vs Biological Metaphors and the Greek Notion of the Organic City in the Discourse of CIAM IV

Lina Dima

The Analogy of Means: The Ontological Function of Architectural Metaphor

Peng Xue

The Ghost Towns of Burma: Student Activism and the Politics of Memory under Military Rule

J. Hoay-Fern Ooi


Section II

The Material Production of Metaphors

Sarah Borree and Stephanie Knuth

Concrete Abstractions: Architectural Metaphors in the Design Practice of Warsaw’s Socialist Realism (1949-1952)

Konrad Matyjaszek

Analogy Versus Metaphor: Aldo van Eyck’s Poetic Images In-Between Fields

Alejandro Campos Uribe and Paula Lacomba Montes

Planning with Ecology: the PEP Group and Biosocial Design in Post-war Britain

Juliana (Yat Shun) Kei

YoruÌbaì Metaphor: From Mythoi to Contemporary Public Realm Urbanism

Mokoìòlaìdeì Johnson and Oòòlaìtuìnjiì AdeìjuÌmoÌò


Section III

Framing Narratives Through Metaphor

Sarah Borree and Stephanie Knuth

Disturbing Scenes: Architecture as Metaphor in Women’s Stories

Nadia Falfoul

The Star System: Denise Scott Brown’s Feminist Analysis of the Sociology of Architecture and its Repercussions

Inés Toscano

Inmundo: Architectural Metaphors from the Edge of the World

Ingrid Quintana Guerrero

A Clean Slate: Metaphors and the Smart City in India

Devika Prakash


Postscript: The Work of Metaphors

Olga Touloumi