Lea-Catherine Szacka

Lea-Catherine Szacka


  • School of Environment, Education & Development, Bridgeford Street Building, The University of Manchester, Oxford Road,

    M139PL Manchester

    United Kingdom

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Personal profile


Léa-Catherine Szacka is Senior Lecturer in Architectural Studies at University of Manchester and member of the Manchester Architecture Research Group (MARG). Her work focuses on the history of architecture exhibitions, the history and theory of postmodern architecture, and, more broadly, the relationship between media, architecture and politics since the 1970s. 

Szacka received a PhD in Architecture History and Theory from the Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London in 2011. She taught both design studios and history and theory undergrad courses and postgrad seminars at Harvard GSD, The Berlage Center Center for Advanced Studies in Architecture and Urban Design (TU Delft), the Oslo School of Architecture and Design (AHO), the École nationale supérieure d’architecture de Versailles, the École nationale supérieure d’architecture de Paris-Malaquais, the École nationale supérieure d’architecture Paris-Val de Seine, Nottingham Trent University and the Manufacture – Haute École Spéciale de Suisse Occidentale.  

Szacka is the author of Exhibiting the Postmodern: the 1980 Venice Architecture Biennale (Marsilio, 2016, winner of the SAHGB 2017 Alice Davis Hitchcock Medallion), Biennials/Triennials: Conversations on the Geography of Itinerant Display (Columbia Books on Architecture and the City, 2019) and co-author of Le Concert: Pink Floyd à Venise (Éditions B2, 2017). In 2018, she co-edited, with Véronique Patteeuw, Mediating Messages: On the Role of Exhibitions and Periodicals in Critically Shaping Postmodern Architecture (Bloomsbury, 2018) and, with Erik Langdalen and Andrea Pinochet, Concrete Oslo (Torpedo pres, 2018). She has also contributed to international journals such as Log, OASE, Arch+, AA Files, the Journal of Architectural Education, Architectural Theory Review, the Journal of Architecture, Les cahiers du musée d'art moderneDomus, Architectural Design and Volume, as well as to numerous books including Exhibiting Architecture: Place and Displacement (Lars Müller, 2014), Terms of Appropriation: Modern Architecture and Global Exchange (Routledge, 2017) and Re-Framing Identities: Architecture’s Turn to History, 1970–1990 (Birkhäuser, 2017). Her research has been supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, The Canada Council for the Arts, The Centre Pompidou, The Canadian Center for Architecture, The Laboratoire d'Excellence Création, Arts et Patrimoine, The Royal Insitute of British Architecture, the Gerda Henkel Stiftung, The British School at Rome, The Graham Foundation and the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Arts.

Szacka is a member of the editorial board of Footprint Delft Theory Review (https://journals.open.tudelft.nl/footprint/index) and of Architectural History, the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain (SAHGB) (https://www.sahgb.org.uk/journal). Since 2020, she is also part of the council of the European Architectural History Network (EAHN). 


Recent Publications (selection)


Szacka, L.-C., Biennials/Triennials: Conversations on the Geography of Itinerant Display (New York: Columbia Books on Architecture and the City, 2019).

Szacka, L.-C., Marini, S. and Lorrain, S., Le Concert: 1989, Pink Floyd à Venise (Paris: éditions B2, 2017).

Szacka, L.-C., Exhibiting the Postmodern: 1980 Venice Architecture Biennale (Venice: Marsilio, 2016).

Edited Volumes

Patteeuw, V. and Szacka, L.-C. (Eds.) Mediating Messages: On the Role of Exhibitions and Periodicals in Critically Shaping Postmodern Architecture (London: Bloomsbury, 2018).

Langdalen, E., Pinochet, A. and Szacka, L.-C. (Eds.) Concrete Oslo (Oslo: Torpedo pres, 2018).

Journal Articles

Szacka, L.-C., 'The University is Dead, Long Live the University!', Architectural Theory Review, 2020.

Szacka, L.-C., 'A Room Within a Room Within a Room: AA 125 Travelling Exhibition or, the Period Room as Staging Device', Architectural Theory Review, vol.23, n.3, 2019, pp.380-397.

Szacka, L.-C., ‘Criticism From Within. Kenneth Frampton And The Retreat From Postmodernism’ OASE Journal of Architecture, 97, Action and Reaction in Architecture, November 2016, pp. 109-112.

Szacka, L.-C., 'The Materiality of the Immaterial: S, M, L, XL as Postmodern Manifesto?' Journal of Architectural Education, 69 (2), September 2015, pp.163-165.

Szacka, L.-C. and Parcollet, R., 'Writing Institutional Exhibition History: On the Centre Pompidou’s Catalogue Raisonné’s Project' Journal of Curatorial Studies, 4 (2), 2015.

Szacka, L.-C., 'Irony; or, the Self-Critical Opacity of Postmodern Architecture by Emmanuel Petit', The Journal of Architecture, 19(3), June 2014, pp. 457-464.

Szacka, L.-C., 'La Strategia della Maschera: OMA in Venice', LOG, 20, Fall 2016, pp.83-86.

Szacka, L.-C. and Micheli, S., 'Paolo’s Triangolo', AA Files, 72, June 2016, pp.98-106.

Book Chapters

Szacka, L.-C., and Micheli, S., 'Paolo Portoghesi and the Postmodern Project' in Akos Moravanszky and Torsten Lange (Eds.) East, West, Central, Re-Framing Identities: Architecture’s Turn to History, 1970-1990 (Basel: Birkhäuser, 2017).

Szacka, L.-C., 'Exhibiting Ideologies: Architecture at the Venice Biennale [1968-1980]' in Pelkonen, E.-L., Chan C., Tasman D. (Eds.), Exhibiting Architecture: A Paradox ? (New Heaven/Barcelone: Yale School of Architecture/ActarD, 2015).

Szacka, L.-C., 'Debates on Display: E-A at the 1976 Biennale' in Arrhenius, T., Lending, M., Miller, W and McGowan, J. (Eds.), Place and Displacement: Exhibiting Architecture (Zurich: Lars Müller publisher, 2014), pp.97-112.

Szacka, L.-C., 'Roma Interrotta: Postmodern Rome as the Source of Fragmented Narratives' in Holdaway, D., and Trentin, F. (Eds.) Rome, Postmodern Narratives of a Cityscape (London, Pickering and Chatto, 2013), pp.155-169.

Recently Awarded Research Grants and Fellowships

Mid-Career Fellowship, Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, 2020.

Research Grant for individual, Graham Foundation (2019)

Visiting Fellowship at Monash University Art Design & Architecture (2019)



Research interests

Postmodern Architecture 

Szacka has lectured and published widely on postmodern architecture and has acted as editor, with Charles Jencks and Eva Branscome, for the 2011 re-edition of The Post-modern Reader. An important output of Szacka’s research on postmodern architecture is the recently published monograph Exhibiting the Postmodern: the 1980 Venice Architecture Biennale (Marsilio, 2016). Looking at the institutional changes, exhibition techniques and exhibition spaces, as well as the discourses and controversies between advocates of modern and postmodern architecture, this book narrates the development of architectural exhibitions as a ‘genre’ of cultural manifestations, while expanding on both the history of the Venice Biennale – and, more generally, of Italian architecture in the 1970s – and the history of postmodernism. She has explored the role of media on the development of postmodern architecture when co-charing, together with Véronique Patteeuw, two international conference sessions (EAHN 2014 and SAH 2014) and co-editing (with Patteeuw) the volume Mediating Messages: On the Role of Exhibitions and Periodicals in Critically Shaping Postmodern Architecture (Bloomsbury, 2018). More recently, she also co-chaired, together with Maros Krivy, two panels on "The Political Aesthetic of Postmodernism: Between Late Socialism and Late Capitalism" (EAHN 2018 and SAH 2019). Szacka is also a founding member of the EAHN Postmodernist interest group.

With Dr. Silvia Micheli (The University of Queensland) Szacka is currently working on the manuscript of Paolo Portoghesi: Architecture Between Media, Architecture and Politics to be published in 2021 by Bloomsbury (in the Studies in Modern Architecture series). This research has been supported by a visiting fellowship at the Architecture Theory Criticism History Research Centre (ATCH), University of Queensland (2015).

In 2020, Szacka was also awarded a Mid-Career Fellowship by the Paul Mellon Center for the Studies in British Art to work on the project "A Worldwide Book: Charles Jencks and The Language of Post-Modern Architecture".


Architecture Curating and the History of Architecture Exhibitions

Szacka’s interest in the history of architecture exhibitions started more than a decade ago with a particular interest in the history of the Venice Architecture Biennale. From 2010 to 2014 she was part of the Centre Pompidou’s research group on the history of exhibitions. In early 2014, she co-organised a major international symposium on architecture exhibitions at the Centre Pompidou, and as a result, she co-edited a special issue of the cahiers du musée national d’art moderne (fall 2014). From 2015 to 2016, Szacka acted as project manager for the After Belonging Academy, an educational forum organised by the Oslo School of Architecture and Design as part of the 2016 Oslo Architecture Triennale’s core program. Also in relation to the Oslo Triennale and out of her interest for large-scale periodic exhibitions, Szacka recently published Biennials/Triennials: Conversations on the Geography of Itinerant Display (Columbia Books on Architecture and the City, 2019). More recently, she co-edited, with Dr. Alex Brown, an issue of Architectural Theory Review (23:1, 2019) on "The Architecture Exhibition as Environment". 


Space, Television, and Architecture

Out of her interest in the relationship between architecture and media since the late twentieth century, Szacka recently initiated a research project (funded by a 2019 Research Grant from the Graham Foundation) on the multiple entanglements between space, television, and architecture. Looking at the history of television through the lens of notions of populism, democracy, continuity, immateriality, and obsolescence, the research isolates a series of case studies that enlighten our understanding of our contemporary media environments. In the past few years, Szacka has taught research seminars on space, television and architecture at the Manchester School of Architecture, The Berlage Center Center for Advanced Studies in Architecture and Urban Design (TU Delft), and at Monash University. She is currently editing, together with Salomon Frausto, "The Architecture of Populism: Media, Politics and Aesthetics", a forthcoming issue of Footprint Delft Architecture Theory Journal (2021). 


Ephemeral Architecture in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Century

Szacka also pursued work on the history of ephemeral architecture, mainly in late twentieth century, and their relation to urban spaces and politics. In 2014, she was invited to present her research at the 14th International Architecture Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia. The installation “Effimero: Or the Postmodern Italian Condition”, was part of OMA’s Monditalia exhibition. Following on her Biennale installation, Szacka co-authored, with Sara Marini and Samuel Lorrain, the book Le Concert: Pink Floyd à Venise (Éditions B2, 2017). She also published and presented work on the 1867 Palais de l’Omnibus and its representation in the nineteenth Century illustrated Press. In 2016, she chaired, together with Véronique Patteeuw, a session on ephemeral architecture (That which does not last: Ephemeral Architecture after Modernism) at the 69th SAH annual conference in Pasadena. More recently, she worked on the book chapter “Le populisme de l’éphémère: Postmodernism et scenographies urbaines en France et en Italie [1976-1989]” published in the edited volume La Fabrique des Images: L’Architecture à L’ère Postmoderne (In Folio, 2017). 


Research Funding

  • Mid-career Fellowship, Paul Mellon Centre, (£15,000), Principal Investigator, 'A World Wide Book: Charles Jencks and the Language of Post-Modern Architecture, 1977–1991' (2020).
  • Research Grant, Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts (5,000$), Principal Investigator, 'Video Killed the Radio Star: MTV and the Construction of Postmodern Space in the 1980s America' (2019).
  • Funding from the Frei Universität Bozen (Unibz), Faculty of Design and Art (85,000€), Co-investigator, 'Architecture in the Age of Display' (2018).
  • SEED Strategic Research Funds – Early Career, University of Manchester (£3,490), Principal Investigator, 'On Air: Television and the Construction of Postmodern Space [1970s to 1990s]' (2018).
  • Faculty of Humanities Strategic Investment Fund: Internationalisation (£850), (2018).
  • Postdoctoral Marie Curie Fellowships in the M4HUMAN (Mobility for experienced researchers in historical humanities including Islamic studies), Gerda Henkel Foundation (75,000€), 'Exhibition as Fiction/Fiction as Exhibition: A diachronic study of the use of fiction for the presentation and representation of architecture' (2013-2015).
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship Laboratoire d’Excellence (Labex CAP) (40,000€), 'Quand la ville entre au musée: Les expositions comme média de compréhension, d’invention et d’appréhension de territoire urbain' (2012-2013).
  • Research Trust Award, Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) (£10,000), 'Display & Debate: An Oral History of the 1976 Europa/America show at the Venice Biennale' (2012).
  • PhD Research Grant, Canadian Center for Architecture (CCA) (2010).
  • Overseas Research Students Award Scheme, University College London (UCL) (£39,000), (2006-2010).
  • Doctoral Fellowship, Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) (80,000 CAN$), (2006-2010).

Supervision information

Current PhD Student at the University of Manchester

2018 - Ksenia Litvienko (SEED Scholarship), "GIPROTEATR: Theatre Architecture and the Building of the Transnational Soviet Bloc, 1970s-80s", (2nd supervisor)

2018 - Simon Mitchell (SEED Scholarship), "Rethinking Bauhaus Architectural Heritage: Logics of Valuation Through Collecting, Archiving, and Exhibiting", (2nd supervisor)


Current PhD Student (other)

2018 - Anne-Laure Iger, "Entre institutionnalisation et militantisme, les mutations de l’exposition d’architecture à Bruxelles, entre 1930 et 2018", Université Libre de Bruxelles (membre de commission externe)


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