By and large, architectural historians use texts, drawings, and photographs to craft their narratives. Oral testimony from those who actually occupy or construct buildings is rarely taken as seriously. Princeton Architectural Press will challenge that orthodoxy with Speaking of Buildings, a collection of essays that investigate the radical potential of a methodology that has historically been cast as unreliable.
Topics in this collection are varied, including the role of gossip in undermining masculine narratives in architecture, workers’ accounts of building with cement in midcentury England, and a sound art piece created by oral testimonies from urban public housing residents. The essays gathered by editors Janina Gosseye, Naomi Stead, and Deborah van der Plaat call for a renewed form of listening to enrich our understanding of what buildings are, what they do, and what they mean to people.