A Timeline of Architecture & Design in History

The canonical history of twentieth century architecture and design in the English language is, like most histories, a constructed and partial view of reality. Yet it has often been perpetuated by its authors as a universal narrative of modernity consisting of a lineup of architects and designers, often Euro-American men, a progression of styles, and a sequence of masterworks, often discussed in isolation from relevant political, economic and cultural contexts. This reductionist view of history expires as soon as it is brought forth, as new information constantly emerges on that which was left out from narratives previously presented as complete. Merely adding “newly found” architects and designers or their designs in an effort to make the existing narrative “global” without radically rethinking the very structures that underpin this reading of history do not suffice. New critical histories of design are not to replace one hierarchical narrative with another. Any view of history is always provisional. This proposed timeline is presented in two formats launching in the context of Tasmeem Doha 2022, a 17-meter long installation in Arabic with a curated selection of events from 1900 to 2020, and an evolving website in English and Spanish with events, buildings, objects, individuals, publications, and exhibitions from 1900 to the present and the future to come. The timeline visualizes a partial history of architecture and design focusing on Latin America and the Arab World enriched by the inclusion of a slew of geographically diverse political and cultural benchmarks from around the rest of the world. It is anchored in the concept of the eternal present, that the future, like the past, is a construct. There is no finite reading nor any claim to a “complete history” here.

Curator - Mohamed Elshahed

Website - v-a studio

Latin America assistant curator - Diego Aliva

Suggest an addition or a correction to the timeline