Architecture & Ideology in the Contemporary City

This project deploys Marxist critique and psychoanalysis to mine the ideological content of architecture in the contemporary city. The project began with a series of essays by international theorists culminating in the book Architecture Post Mortem (Farnam UK, Burlington US) Ashgate, 2013, which surveyed architecture’s encounter with death, decline, and ruination under late capitalism, co-edited by Simone Brott, Donald Kunze and David Bertolini. As the world moves closer to an economic abyss that many perceive to be the death of capital, contraction and crisis are no longer mere phases of normal market fluctuations, but rather the irruption of the unconscious of ideology itself. A second book project, underway, Modernity’s Opiate or the Politics of Iconic Architecture is a Marxist critique of the ‘iconic project’ in contemporary cities in the Middle East, Asia, Europe, Australia and the US. Its premise, is that iconic architecture is a mediatic form that through the unconscious messages screened by the digital image teaches the public about modernity and capitalism. To be clear, iconic architecture does not refer to any historical canon, but to the genre of spectacular, debt-fueled megaprojects, created under the late-capitalist paradigm since the 2000s via digital visualisation and fabrication methodologies that have fundamentally transformed the architectural discipline and the contemporary city itself.

Selected Writings


Brott, Simone. (2019) Digital Monuments : The Dreams and Abuses of Iconic Architecture. Routledge, Abingdon & New York. (In Press) View on ePrints

Brott, Simone, Donald Kunze, and David Bertolini, eds. Architecture Post Mortem: The Diastolic Architecture of Decline, Dystopia, and Death. Farnam (UK), Burlington (US): Ashgate, 2013 here.

Refereed Journal Articles

Brott, Simone. “Modernity’s Opiate, or the Crisis of Iconic Architecture.” Log: Observations on Architecture and the Contemporary City 26, New York: Anycorp (Fall 2012): 49-59 here.

Book Chapters

Brott, Simone. “A Marxist Critique of Iconic Architecture.” In The Routledge Companion to Criticality in Art, Architecture and Design, edited by Chris Brisbin and Myra Thiessen. London, New York: Routledge, Forthcoming 1 April 2018 here.

Brott, Simone. “The Iconic and the Critical.” In Global Perspectives on Critical Architecture., edited by Gevork Hartoonian. London (UK), Burlington (US): Ashgate, pp. 121-134. 2015 here.

Brott, Simone. “Dead or Alive in Joburg.” In Architecture Post Mortem: The Diastolic Architecture of Decline, Dystopia, and Death, edited by Simone Brott, Donald Kunze and David Bertolini. 31-50. Farnam (UK), Burlington (US): Ashgate, February 2013.

Conference Papers/ Invited Lectures

Brott, Simone. “The Iconic Architecture Industry.” In The Second PhilArch Conference: Architecture and Image, edited by Dr. Daniel Dahlstrom, Bryan Norwood and Elizabeth Robinson. Harvard University, Graduate School of Design, in collaboration with Boston University, Department of Philosophy, October 19-20, 2012.


  • Dr Simone Brott

Other Team Members

Dr Donald Kunze, Emeritus Professor, The Penn State University Stuckeman School of Architecture.

Dr. David Bertolini, Professor, North Dakota State University and Chair of the Department of Architecture and Landscape Architecture.

Funding / Grants

Queensland University of Technology, Women in Research Grant, 2016, $10,000AUD