The un-built as Unrealized Project
KoozArch's first editorial column exploring our four declinations of the Un-built.

The architectures that make our built environment are just a fraction of the projects that could be potentially built. There is a wealth of UNREALIZED PROJECTS that populate the world of the un-built that have either left important traces in the history of architecture, or are sitting in the archives of museums, foundations or architecture offices ready to contribute to new, alternative architectural histories. These fragments of creativity, these perfectly realizable projects are testimony to architects’ imagination, knowledge, experimentation, along with the changing technologies and methods of representation used to design them.1 In short, they are hidden testimonies of the living history of architecture. The reasons behind their un-built status lie in the mechanisms that drive the building industry, urban planning, clients’ personal tastes, personal affiliations, networks and power relations along with various social, political and economic factors that are beyond the architects’ control.2 Often, however, decisions are driven by taste and by mechanisms of attribution of architectural value that have been opening to the age-old question: Which project is worth being built? What makes the others less valuable?

The history of architecture is studded with notable projects that did not win international competitions, yet they are as important - if not more important - than those that were actually constructed.3 Which overlooked projects have been discarded by international juries and, nonetheless, bear incredible value? Can we set up new criteria for the definition of the architectural un-built’s value? Should they reflect contemporary tastes or should they propose ethical agendas? We invite you to answer these questions and find unrealized projects that have been overlooked until now, either because they were deemed less valuable, too expensive, or even because they were designed by women or architects from unrepresented ethnic groups. UNREALIZED PROJECTS will focus on un-built projects that were meant to be built in every corner of the world. Un-built projects are, therefore, an endless source of wonder, a large basin we can draw from in order to rewrite the history of architecture along with the history of the profession.



1 Marianne Barzilay, L'invention du Parc: Parc de La Villette, Paris: Concours International 1982-1983 (Paris: Graphite, 1984).
2 Farshid MoussaviI, “Creative Leaps in the Arena of Architectural Competitions.” Architectural Review, 233 (2013) 27.
3 Cees De Jong, and Erik Mattie. Architectural Competitions 1792-1949 (Cologne: Taschen, 1997).

26 May 2022
Reading time
8 minutes
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