Chris Abel is an award-winning writer, interdisciplinary theorist and teacher of architecture, culture and identity formation. A graduate of the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London (1968) and the University of Sydney (PhD 2012), he first achieved international prominence with a ground-breaking series of essays published in Architectural Design and other journals in the 1960s and 1970s. In his essays he explored such subjects as self-organizing urban systems and computer-based methods of architectural production, anticipating many cutting-edge developments in design theory and building technology.
Since 1978, when he began living and teaching in different countries, his critical and theoretical writings have also broadened further, covering urgent issues of sustainable development as well as questions of personal and cultural identity in a fast-changing world. In addition to numerous essays and books of architectural criticism and interdisciplinary research, his recent theoretical works include The Extended Self: Architecture, Memes and Minds (2015), winner of the CICA’s 2017 Bruno Zevi Book Award by unanimous decision of the international jury chaired by Joseph Rykwert. A third and expanded edition of his collected essays, Architecture and Identity: Responses to Cultural and Technological Change (2017), was also shortlisted for a CICA award in the same year.
His approach to design teaching has been equally innovative. From his work in the 1970s with the Architecture Machine Group (the forerunner of the Media Lab) at M.I.T. on ARCHITRAINER, an interactive computer program he designed to simulate architect-client dialogues, through his Biotech Architecture Workshop and experiments with rapid prototyping technologies in the 1990s at Nottingham University, to his Vertical Architecture STudio (VAST) at the University of Sydney and elsewhere, he has consistently pursued a research-based approach.
He now lives in France in the Val de Marne close to Paris, where he is currently working on two new books, including a further development of his radical theory of the extended self, to be published early next year. For more, see: www.chrisabel.com