On the expert and the amateur in online architectural commentary

Naomi Stead

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Researchpeer-review


In this rather polemical exploration of some moments in the recent history of architectural criticism, the author essays between hope and despair. Hope: for the possibilities of a genuinely popular, amateur architectural commentary, whether online or off, based on the experience and long occupation of buildings. And despair: for the growing marginalization of expertise and authority in all spheres of culture and public life, including the expert critique of buildings. Arguing that the apparent death of the designated architecture critic has significant implications, the chapter contends that we do still need architectural criticism, in a range of modes and for a variety of reasons. At the same time, it argues that conventional architectural criticism is entirely bankrupt if it restricts itself to commentary on the intentions of architects, in isolation from how those ideas actually manifest, and the effects they have in the world. Thus, the emergence of ‘amateur’ accounts of life in buildings, including through online digital media, represents a possibility for architecture to reach beyond its own disciplinary boundaries, beyond cultural elites and gatekeepers, and genuinely take its place as a popular art.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Companion to Criticality in Art, Architecture, and Design
EditorsChris Brisbin, Myra Thiessen
Place of PublicationOxon UK
Number of pages9
ISBN (Electronic)9781315623412
ISBN (Print)9781138189232
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Cite this