DIALOGUE 1: Christophe Van Gerrewey and Brian Dillon

The Rolex Learning Center Dialogues – Dialogue 1 ‘Higher Knowledge’


Wednesday 26 May 2021, 6.30pm 

Launch of the book Higher Knowledge. SANAA’s Rolex Learning Centre at EPFL since 2010
Christophe van Gerrewey and Brian Dillon

The essay remains an important form for thinking, writing and reading. During this conversation, the characteristics of the essay will be discussed, as well as its application to architecture. Is architecture a general cultural subject, and if so, how can it be interpreted, described and communicated? Did the major essayists of the 20th century – Susan Sontag, Roland Barthes or Walter Benjamin, to name a few – consider architecture as a topic? And how can a building like the Rolex Learning Center become a source of essayistic knowledge?


Christophe Van Gerrewey (1982) is assistant professor of architecture theory at EPFL Lausanne. As a critic and a theorist, writing about contemporary buildings, their recent histories and intellectual dimensions, and their connections to society, philosophy, art and literature, he has developed a position as an expert on the work of OMA/Rem Koolhaas as well as on Belgian architecture. He is one of the editors of architecture journal OASE and of art and culture journal De Witte Raaf. He was trained as an architect-engineer at Ghent University and as a literary theorist at KU Leuven. In Dutch, his mother tongue, he has published three novels and a collection of essays between 2013 and 2017.

Brian Dillon (1969) was born in Dublin. He studied English and Philosophy at University College Dublin and completed a Ph.D. in English at the University of Kent in 1999. His essays, articles and reviews have appeared in the Times Literary Supplement, London Review of Books, New York Review of Books, Financial Times and New Statesman. He is a widely published art critic and writes regularly for Frieze, Art Review, Modern Painters, Tate etc. and The Wire. He is UK editor of Cabinet, and Professor of Creative Writing at the University of London. His most recent books are Suppose a SentenceEssayismThe Great ExplosionObjects in This Mirror and Ruin Lust.