Building on Ghost Acres: The London Coal Exchange, circa 1849

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Building on Ghost Acres: The London Coal Exchange, circa 1849

CAD 0.00

Environmental Histories of Architecture presents the work of eight researchers who each analyze specific environmental relations, crises, and reforms and demonstrate how society and the environment have been co-constructed, represented, and lived in their respective geographies. While their essays are published independently as chapters, together they cover an expansive range of thinking about how the environment changed, and was changed by, architecture.



In Chapter 1, Aleksandr Bierig studies the London Coal Exchange, a building that opened in 1849 to house a market where the city’s coal was traded but not distributed. By taking the Exchange as artefact, Bierig examines the moment when coal became a thing—a commodity—and offers an architectural perspective on fossil-fuel history. He draws on a literary analysis of extraction and labour in the mines and an architectural analysis of the display of plant fossils in the Exchange to outline a profound moment in the development of coal’s social and cultural significance. The building’s spatial reach and material expression suggested that fossil-fuel use had begun to unsettle the relationship between human history and geological time, raising haunting questions regarding “ghost acres” that remain with us today.



Author: Aleksandr Bierig

Editor: Kim Förster

Managing Editor: Claire Lubell

Copyeditor: Ruth Jones

Other contributors: Nerea Calvillo, Daniel Barber, Kiel Moe, Jiat-Hwee Chang, Hannah le Roux, Isabelle Doucet, Paulo Tavares, Kim Förster

Graphic Design: Tessier A

Programming: Rosen Tomov



Published by the CCA and distributed open access through Library Stack.

This open-access publication is made available according to the terms of the license CC BY-NC-ND.



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