Killian Doherty is an architect with an interest in post-conflict/disaster built environments. Through his practice and research he explores how ‘development’, as regeneration, (re)produces unevenness in cities across the Global North and South. With experience in social and affordable housing through practice in Ireland, Killian has also worked with ex-black panther, Malik Rahim, in the Lower ninth ward of New Orleans following hurricane Katrina in 2007, on a number of housing, social and environmental restoration projects. Since then his work has been situated in the post-war reconstruction contexts of Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Liberia.
In 2014 he was awarded the Frederick Bonnart Scholarship to undertake his PhD by Design at the University College London, Bartlett School of Architecture. The purpose of The Bonnart Trust is to “establish and maintain scholarships at universities in the United Kingdom for research at the postgraduate level into the nature of racial, religious and cultural intolerance with a view to finding a means to combat it”. Prior to this Killian received his M.Arch (2007) from the KTH in Sweden, his architectural (RIAI) license through University College Dublin (2004), DipArch from University Strathclyde (2000) and a BSc. Hons in Architecture from Queens University Belfast (1997).
His architectural work, teachings and research have been exhibited at the ICA, the Venice Architecture Biennale and appear in Japan Architecture + Urbanism (JA+U), Architectural Review, MAS Context, Footprint: Delft Architecture Theory Journal, VOLUME and ‘Afritecture: Building Social Change.
Killian has been visiting lecturer, tutor and critic at the University of Johannesburg, Chalmers University of Technology Gothenberg, the Bartlett and has taught urban-ecology design studios, and history and theory, at the Kigali Institute of Technology in Rwanda (2010-2013. Killian has also worked professionally as an architect in Ireland, UK, Sweden, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Uganda. He is a member of of the Royal Institute of Architects Ireland, Transnational Architecture Group (TAG) based at the Liverpool School of Architecture, a UCL Member of the Centre for the Anthropology of Sustainability (CAOS) a member of International Committee for Documentation and Conservation of Buildings, Sites and Neighbourhoods of the Modern Movement (Docomomo-UK) and a scholar/member of the Frederick Bonnart Trust.
Killian Doherty locates architectural knowledge and design practices within wider histories of and theories of knowledge, drawing from post-colonial, political history, ecology, anthropology, sociology, geography and critical theory readings, of the Global South. He has designed and realized community, social-housing, educational and landscape projects, with a focus on design as form of political ecological practice. These have been primarily for vulnerable and under-represented groups across East and West Africa.
His current PhD by Design research focuses on the dissonance between ‘Development’ re-settlement practices that negatively affect indigenous rights of access to livelihoods and ‘nature’ in post-genocide Rwanda. Through historical readings and extensive ‘anthropological’ field work his research reveals how discriminatory forms of colonial power-knowledge are transferred to and reproduced by Rwanda’s re-emerging built environment. Field-work as collaborative research method expands the architectural conventions of drawing, walking and propositional work, as conscious of non-western perspectives and concerns.
The role of environmental technologies intersect within his research, operating across a number of scales and practices that can be summarized as: a means towards energy and resource efficient construction technologies; a tool for the representation and visualization of environments as complex socio-ecological ‘systems’; and a tool that informs collaborative engagement with different actors situated within transforming urban and/or rural environments.
Non-western perspectives of environmental change also provide clues to new modes of ‘social’ practices, beyond the paradigm of the building. Killian has recently completed a 30-minute essay film, with Scottish film-maker Edward Lawrenson, documenting the spiritual and environmental costs of iron-ore mining in Northern Liberia, as examined through the lens of a new-town. This film operates as a social text to makes legible the violent logic of modernity, widening to the consumptive footprint of extractive economies and contemporary urbanization to clarify anthropogenic concerns. This film premiered at the Cinema Du Reel international film festival in Paris and was screened the Lithuania Pavilion as part of the Venice Architectural Biennale 2018.