Architecture as Exchange

Framing the Architecture Competition as Contact Zone


  • Jorge Mejía Hernández Delft University of Technology
  • Cathelijne Nuijsink Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow at the Institute for the History and Theory of Architecture (gta) at ETH Zurich



The editorial introduction to this issue of Footprint follows a double trajectory. On the one hand, it describes an ambition for architecture historiography. The social sciences have long recognised the need for more comprehensive and inclusive methods for writing history. Among them, comparative literature scholar Mary Louise Pratt’s ‘contact zone’ appears as a useful framework for writing new histories of architecture that recognise the many interrelations that characterise the discipline of architecture. On the other hand the introduction explains why, among many possible contact zones, focus has been set on the architecture competition. A short description of key aspects from the different contributions shows how, seen as a contact zone, the architecture competition emerges as fertile ground for the production of disciplinary knowledge, resulting from exchanges between different cultures. Acknowledging the diverse nature of these cultures, together with the recognition of institutions, legislation and other conceptual frameworks as key elements of architecture as contact zone offers fresh theoretical insight, but also poses unexpected communicative challenges.

Author Biographies

Jorge Mejía Hernández, Delft University of Technology

Jorge Mejía Hernández graduated as an architect in Colombia and received a PhD form TU Delft, where he
teaches design studios and research with the section Methods and Matter. He is co-director of the Delft/
Rotterdam-based research group Architecture, Culture and Modernity and acts as science communications
manager for the EU-funded COST action Writing Urban Places: New Narratives of the European City.

Cathelijne Nuijsink, Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow at the Institute for the History and Theory of Architecture (gta) at ETH Zurich

Cathelijne Nuijsink graduated in architecture from both TU Delft and the University of Tokyo before obtaining a
PhD in East Asian Languages and Civilisations from the University of Pennsylvania. Currently, she is a Marie
Skłodowska-Curie Fellow at the Institute for the History and Theory of Architecture (gta) at ETH Zurich, where she is exploring the potentials of architectural contact zones as a theoretical and methodological framework to rewrite the history of architectural modernism using as a case study the Shinkenchiku Residential Design Competition


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