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Fishing Architecture

FISH-A: The Ecological Continuum between Buildings and Fish Species

To what extent can fish produce architecture? This project sets out to trace a socioecological history of North Atlantic architecture in relation to fisheries, elucidating the relationships between marine environments and terrestrial landscapes and assessing the ecological impact of fishing constructions and the natural resources they depend upon.

Fishing Architecture covers a broad spectrum in terms of both geography and time, a choice that was made to avoid deterministic analysis and engage with transnational phenomena. Thus, the focus is on the North Atlantic—its shores housing diverse architectural cultures and its waters home to a wealth of fish species—and follows a time frame that runs from the industrialization of fisheries in the early 19th century to the full globalization of the industry at the end of the 20th.

The extant scholarship on marine ecology, fisheries, and fishing communities includes extensive research on fish populations, navigation systems, technology, bioeconomics, architecture, and cultural practices. Yet, comprehensive interdisciplinary analysis of the field is hindered by its own specialization. Facing the impending challenges of the environmental predicament, this project will use the material history of architecture as a powerful tool for advancing interdisciplinary research and, along with it, our understanding of the ecological impacts of human activity.

The assessment will be organized along five analytical axes: (1) marine ecosystems; (2) fishing technology; (3) food processing; (4) politics; and (5) consumption habits, effectively avoiding the conventional architectural approach to understanding the built environment. This strategy allows us to identify critical knowledge gaps to be worked on and, most significantly, fosters a fresh perspective on construction in which fishing landscapes and buildings are understood as material traces of dynamic socioecological relationships and as part of the continuum between land and sea.

André Tavares
Faculty of Architecture of the University of Porto, April 2021

This project has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) through a Consolidator Grant under the European Union’s Horizon Europe research and innovation programme (grant agreement no. 101044244).

FISH-A is hosted by the University of Porto at the Center for Studies in Architecture and Urbanism (CEAU)

Faculty of Architecture, University of Porto, Portugal

André Tavares (PI)

Alice Nouvet

Ana Azevedo
Marine Biology

Paul Montgomery
Maritime Archeology

Rafael Sousa Santos

Sónia Gabriel


Diego Inglez de Souza
Faculty of Architecture, University of Porto, Portugal

Daniel Duarte Pereira


Patrícia Reis
Faculty of Architecture, University of Porto, Portugal

Inês Salema Guilherme