Samia Henni

Born in Algiers, Algeria.

She is an architect and an architectural historian and theorist who works at the intersection of architecture, planning, colonial practices, and military operations from the first European colonization to the present. Her book Architecture of Counterrevolution: The French Army in Northern Algeria (Zurich: gta Verlag, 2017) examines French colonial territorial transformations and spatial counterinsurgency measures in Algeria under colonial rule during the Algerian Revolution (1954-1962). The book discusses the complicity of architecture and planning in strategies of offense, defense, control, and surveillance.

She curated Discreet Violence: Architecture and the French War in Algeria at the gta Institute, ETH Zurich, an exhibition that utilized French propaganda visual records and archival documents to deconstruct the processes through which the French colonial military authorities forcibly relocated thousands of Algerians in Algeria's rural areas during the Algerian Revolution. The exhibition travelled to the New Institute in Rottedam, the Archive Kabinett in Berlin, The Graduate School of Architecture, University of Johannesburg, La Colonie in Paris, and the VI PER Gallery in Prague. She is also the co-curator of gta Films at the gta Institute, an exhibition that dissects the production and use of motion picture as a way of documenting, teaching, promoting, and understanding architecture.

She is the editor of the second issue of gta papers entitled War Zones (Zurich: gta Verlag, 2019), in which she examines the design of the militarization of cities since World War II, and specifically after the events of September 11, 2001. She writes about the effects of colonialism on planning and housing development ("Black Color and 'Negro Village:' Why Skin Color Still Matters in Architecture?" Trans Magazin, 30), on population resettlements ("On the Spaces of Guerre Moderne," Footprint, 19), on women's lives ("How to Frenchify Algerian Women: On Domestic Spaces and Women's Agency during the French War in Algeria," forthcoming book chapter in Productive Universals, Specific Situations: Analysis and Intervention in Art, Architecture, Design and Urbanism. Berlin: Sternberg Press, 2018), and on language ("What the Hell Do They Mean When They Say 'Independence'?" written and read for Barby Asante, broadcasted at the Diaspora Pavilion, 57th Art Exhibition, Venice Biennial.

Her recent lectures include "From Counterrevolution to Counterinsurgency" at The Cooper Union; Aga Khan Program Lecture"Designing for the 'milieu féminin': France's Attempts to Keep Algerian Women Away from Islamic Customs" at Harvard University Graduate School of Design; "France's Trans-Mediterranean Oppressions: Migration, Death and Architecture" in Crossing the Mediterranean: Migration, Death and Culture, Cornell Institute for European Studies, Cornell University; "Vers une dé-propagande des archives militaires: mais ou se trouve donc l'architecture?" Laboratoire InVisu, Institut national d'histoire de l'art, Paris; "On Critical Institutions in Society," Shedhalle Zurich; "From Camps, Homes, Borders, and Laws," The Side Room, Amsterdam; "C as in Colonialism," CCC Research-based Master program, Geneva School of Art and Design; and "Why Does Algeria Need a Pavilion More Than Ever? On Retelling Stories, Rewriting Histories and Researching Architecture," Kunsthal Aarhus.

She teaches at the Department of Architecture, College of Architecture, Art and Planning, Cornell University. She has taught at Princeton University's School of Architecture, ETH Zurich [gta Institute] and the Geneva University of Art and Design [CCC Master Program]. She received her Ph.D. (with distinction, ETH Medal) in History and Theory of Architecture from the ETH Zurich. She was a Research Associate at Curatorial/Knowledge, Department of Visual Cultures, Goldsmiths, University of London. She received her M.Sc. in Architecture from the Accademia di Archittetura di Mendrisio, Universita della Svizzera Italiana. She also studied at the former Berlage Institute in Rotterdam, and at the Ecole polytechnique d'architecture et d'urbanisme in Algiers. Her work has been included in exhibitions at Kunsthal Aarhus, Museum of Yugoslav History in Belgrade, the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal, and the Chung-Shan Creative Hub in Taipei.