How Did It Fail? Considering the Decline of Environmental Experiments

Paul Bouet 1, 2
2 OCS - L'Observatoire de la condition suburbaine
UMR AUSser - Architecture Urbanisme Société : Savoir Enseignement Recherche, éavt&t - École Nationale Supérieure d'Architecture de la Ville et des Territoires à Marne-la-Vallée
Abstract : This paper proposes a conceptual framework to study the decline of environmental experiments within architectural history. It is based on a case study: the trajectory of a solar heating device named Trombe wall. A key component of solar architecture, it was experimented during the postwar decades and became highly popular during the 1970s oil crisis, but it did not manage to be applied on a large scale, and its appeal ended up declining. The Trombe wall case is analysed using two main frameworks developed in the history and sociology of science and technology. Firstly, Bruno Latour’s in-depth analysis of a technological failure (Aramis, or the Love of Technology) invites to beware of simplistic arguments focused on the efficiency of a given experiment, and instead to investigate the dynamics of social actors and cultural factors that are involved in innovations, contributing to their success or failure. Then, Jean-Baptiste Fressoz’ proposition to interpret modernization as a process of ‘disinhibition’ (L’Apocalypse joyeuse), by which environmental awareness and alerts have been bypassed, leads to interrogate the counterpart of the decline of environmental experiments within architecture, namely the domination and impact of building technologies and types that have become widespread.
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Submitted on : Friday, October 26, 2018 - 11:00:08 AM
Last modification on : Thursday, February 7, 2019 - 4:54:15 PM
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Paul Bouet. How Did It Fail? Considering the Decline of Environmental Experiments. Fifth International Conference of the European Architectural History Network, Jun 2018, Tallinn, Estonia. pp.451-457. ⟨hal-01905823⟩

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