Henni Receives Prestigious Spiro Kostof Book Award from the Society of Architectural Historians

facade of a modern apartment building seen behind a bombed building, and a page of text
Henni's book is an extensive analysis of French colonial policies and military counterinsurgency operations in architecture during the Algerian Revolution. photo / provided
A map of the Mediterranean Sea and Algeria divided into zones with French language text
Interior pages showing the forbidden zones and the Planne Challe prior to July 1959. photo / provided
woman pointing to a glass display case beside a gallery wall of posters, newspaper articles, and images asa dozen people listen to her speak
Henni giving a talk during the reception for her exhibition Discreet Violence: Architecture and the French War in Algeria, spring 2019. William Staffeld / AAP
Henni's book is an extensive analysis of French colonial policies and military counterinsurgency operations in architecture during the Algerian Revolution. photo / provided Interior pages showing the forbidden zones and the Planne Challe prior to July 1959. photo / provided Henni giving a talk during the reception for her exhibition Discreet Violence: Architecture and the French War in Algeria, spring 2019. William Staffeld / AAP
News
May 5, 2020

Samia Henni, assistant professor in the History of Architecture and Urban Development (HAUD) Ph.D. program, has received the 2020 Spiro Kostof Book Award from the Society of Architectural Historians (SAH) for Architecture of Counterrevolution: The French Army in Northern Algeria.

Established in 1993 in recognition of the career and writings of architectural historian Spiro Kostof (1936–91), the annual award is given to outstanding interdisciplinary studies of urban history that make the greatest contribution to the understanding of the growth and development of cities.

"I am thrilled that my first book is one of the recipients of this eminent award given in memory of Professor Kostof's influential scholarship and his exceptional approach to architectural history," Henni said. "This is truly the highest distinction and the most honorable recognition that I can aspire to. I am extremely grateful to the SAH for supporting and endorsing scholarship on the destroyed and built environment resulting from violent colonial practices and military measures, which, to this day, continue to be part of the daily lives of millions of people around the world."

Henni's book examines the intersection of French colonial policies and military counterinsurgency operations in architecture in Algeria during the Algerian Revolution (1954–62). During this bloody and protracted armed conflict, the French civil and military authorities reorganized Algeria's vast urban and rural territory with profound effects. Built environments were drastically transformed by the colonial regime, infrastructure rapidly "implanted," and new settlements were strategically built to keep Algeria under French rule, according to Henni.

Focusing on three interrelated spatial counterrevolutionary measures, Henni's research provides an extensive analysis of the massive forced resettlement of Algerian farmers, the mass-housing programs designed for the Algerian population as part of General Charles de Gaulle's Plan de Constantine, and the new fortified administrative town planned for the protection of the French authorities during the last months of the Algerian Revolution. One of the aims of the book is to depict the modus operandi of these settlements, their roots, developments, scopes, actors, protocols, impacts, and design mechanisms.

Architecture of Counterrevolution was published in 2017 by gta Verlag (Zurich), and translated into French and published in 2019 by Éditions B42 (Paris) with the support of AAP and the Department of Architecture. Henni is also the editor of War Zones: gta papers 2, and the curator of Discreet Violence: Architecture and the French War in Algeria — an exhibition that examined the creation of forbidden zones and the massive forced displacement of Algeria's rural population, a topic covered in the award-winning book. The exhibition was presented in AAP's John Hartell Gallery (March 7–April 11, 2019), as well as the gta Exhibitions, ETH Zurich; the New Institute in Rotterdam; the Archive Kabinett in Berlin; The Graduate School of Architecture, University of Johannesburg; the VI PER Gallery in Prague; La Colonie in Paris; and Twelve Gates Arts in Philadelphia.

Henni holds a Ph.D. in the history and theory of architecture (with distinction, ETH Medal) from ETH Zurich. She teaches architectural history and theory with a focus on colonialism, deserts, displacement, intersectionality, gender, and war, from the European colonization of the Americas to the present. 

by Patti Witten

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