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Multidisciplinary Research Program

The CCA advances and shapes debates in architecture, urbanism, and the humanities by developing a new model for collective research. We aim at making timely contributions to these various fields by investigating topics that further the lines of inquiry pursued by the CCA, with the participation of international researchers at different stages of their careers.

The Multidisciplinary Research Program invites both emerging and established scholars, thinkers, writers, architects, artists, and curators to meet at the CCA and collaborate on a thematic eighteen-month research project. The individual and group research developed as part of the program provide alternative frameworks for engaging contemporary social, cultural, political, and environmental issues.

Organized with generous support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and launched under the auspices of its Architecture, Urbanism and Humanities initiative, the program is developed in consultation with expert advisors to contextualize, re-imagine, and update the CCA Collection. In each iteration of the Program, a group of Mellon Researchers is asked to produce significant outcomes related to topical sets of concepts, diverse methodological approaches, and focused areas of research. Each research project invites participants to encounter the collection as a productive resource, to invigorate its raison d’être, reinforce it with new architectural, urban, and humanistic perspectives, and to activate it for current debate while offering clear directions for growth.

The thematic projects begin with an open call, followed by a multi-day Mellon Seminar at the CCA. A panel of experts then selects, through a process of peer-review, a multidisciplinary team of up to eight scholars, practitioners, and cultural producers from different fields, who are tasked with collaborating on a topical project for a period of eighteen months. During this period, the researchers undertake individual residencies at the CCA, consult other relevant archives, and carry out fieldwork. They meet at least three times for workshops and seminars in Montreal, remaining in constant contact through digital platforms and video conferences to discuss and determine the most suitable format for the project’s collective outcome—such as public seminars or publications.

The first project in the Multidisciplinary Research Program, Architecture and/for Society (2014–15), took the Cedric Price fonds as a point of departure to address the relationship between architecture and social transformation.

Based on the rich CCA Photography Collection, the second research project, Architecture and/for Photography (2016–17), sought a broader and more critical understanding of the role of photography in shaping architecture and its discourse, from nineteenth century cyanotypes to contemporary digital photography.

The third research project, Architecture and/for the Environment (2017–19), currently reflects on what an environmental history of architecture might look like, and how the discipline of architecture should respond to the readily-apparent effects of man-made climate change.

The fourth research project, Centring Africa: Postcolonial Perspectives on Architecture (2019–2021) will address crucial historiographic questions of the role of architecture in sub-Saharan Africa after independence.

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