Going Nuclear

Beatriz Colomina & Mark Wigley

Exploratory Studies for Nuclear Power Plants, 1970-1980, Claude Parent<br> © Fonds Parent, Claude (1923 – 2016)
Exploratory Studies for Nuclear Power Plants, 1970-1980, Claude Parent
© Fonds Parent, Claude (1923 – 2016)

In Are We Human? Notes on an Archeology of Design (Lars Müller Publishers, 2016), Beatriz Colomina and Mark Wigley explored ways in which humans have been radically redesigned by technologies. This lecture extends the argument by tracing the intimate relationship between architecture and the nuclear from Hiroshima till today. Nuclear energy dramatically accelerated both the radical expansion and self-destruction of our species. It transformed architectural discourse and can even be understood as an architectural project. Postwar architecture is inseparable from the nuclear. In fact, architecture became the face of the nuclear, representing the unpresentable. The latest nuclear reactors that feed on nuclear waste call for a whole new politics, and probably a new architecture.

Thursday, March 14, 2024
CIVA, Rue de l'Ermitage 55, 1050 Brussels
Goethe Institut Brussels, Belgian presidency of the Council of the European Union


Beatriz Colomina is the Howard Crosby Butler Professor of the History of Architecture, the founding director of the Media and Modernity program at Princeton University, and the Director of Graduate Studies (Ph.D. program) in the School of Architecture. Her books include X-Ray Architecture (Lars Müller Publishers, 2019), Domesticity at War (The MIT Press, 2007), and Privacy and Publicity: Modern Architecture as Media (The MIT Press, 1996). She has curated a series of international exhibitions, based on archival and oral history research, as interfaces to communicate research to a wider audience with physical installations, digital platforms and new forms of publication. These exhibitions include: Clip/Stamp/Fold (2006-2013), Playboy Architecture (2012-2016) and Radical Pedagogies (2014-2016). In 2016 she was chief curator with Mark Wigley of the third Istanbul Design Biennial on the theme Are We Human? The Design of the Species. Her latest exhibition Sick Architecture opened at CIVA in Brussels in 2022. 

Mark Wigley is Professor of Architecture and Dean Emeritus of the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (GSAPP) at Columbia University. His books include Konrad Wachsmann’s Television: Post-Architectural Transmissions (Sternberg Press, 2021), Cutting Matta-Clark: The Anarchitecture Investigation (Lars Müller Publishers, 2018), and Buckminster Fuller Inc.: Architecture in the Age of Radio (Lars Müller Publishers, 2015). He has curated exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, The Drawing Center, Columbia University, Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Het Nieuwe Instituut, the Canadian Centre for Architecture, and the Power Station of Art. He was the co-curator of the 3rd Istanbul Design Biennale in 2016 with Beatriz Colomina, the curator of The Human Insect: Antennas 1886-2017 at Het Nieuwe Instituut, Rotterdam in 2018 and Passing Through Architecture: The 10 Years of Gordon Matta Clark at the Power Station of Art, Shanghai (2019–20).