Today there are many architectural “laboratories” in universities comprising an international network of related and varied interpretations of the term, which includes spaces of production, nodes of knowledge exchange, and even pretexts for forms of research that might be unrecognizable to a scientist. Columbia University has hosted two important cases, the Laboratory for Design Correlation set up by Frederick Kiesler in 1937, and the many labs of the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation, under its former dean Mark Wigley, saw an increase from five labs to twenty-seven on research subjects from urban design to death. Today, practices that emerged from such laboratory networks now operate beyond the university though often in lab-like ways.
The Lab Test series critically examines case studies of architectural institutions inspired by scientific movements, and the projects and ideas produced by them. It accompanies the exhibition Lab Cult: An unorthodox history of interchanges between science and architecture.
Bechara Helal is an architect and assistant professor at the University of Montreal, and co-editor of Architecture competitions and the production of culture, quality and knowledge: an international inquiry (2015). His next book is titled Architecture in the Lab: An Inquiry into a Paradigm Shift.
Enrique Ramirez is a scholar and historian of modern and contemporary architecture, urbanism, and landscape. He is working on a manuscript that considers how exchanges between architectural and aeronautical cultures in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century France constructed new, modernized ideas about air and the natural environment.