Jacobé Huet is a historian of modern architecture with a focus on the transcultural Mediterranean. She is particularly interested in the circulation of architectural forms and ideas, intersections between modernism and vernacular, and depictions of architecture in art and literature.
Huet is currently completing the manuscript for her first book. This inquiry revisits the white cube as a fundamental motif of architectural modernism. White and cubical volumes are ubiquitous in European avant-garde designs of the first half of the 20th century. Historians and theorists made the white cube an emblem of modernism, consistently associating this motif with architectural placelessness and machine-age esthetics. Huet’s book shifts this paradigm by recasting the modernist white cube as a product of regionalist inspiration and postcolonial agency in the transcultural Mediterranean. Based on archival sources attesting to the extensive Mediterranean travels of Adolf Loos, Marcel Breuer, and Le Corbusier, she argues that pristine modernist boxes result from these architects' appropriation of key formal features of Greek island villages and North African medinas. In conjunction with this demonstration, she examines how selected Mediterranean figures engaged in vernacular discourses forcefully opposed this European modernist gaze on their heritage. These figures of agency include Palestinian ethnographer Tawfiq Canaan and French-Algerian artist Kader Attia. Revisiting canonical figures with dissentient discourses, this book articulates a reciprocal history of European modernism and Mediterranean vernacular as transcultural objects. Huet’s book reintroduces complexity and contention to the white cube, an architectural formula so pervasive that scholars had ceased to see it critically.
As per teaching, Huet's courses invite students to approach architectural designs as ideologically charged objects emerging from networks of global exchanges. Courses she offers include “Architecture and Colonialism in Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia,” “Le Corbusier Beyond Europe: Internationalism and Ideology,” and “Latest Experiments in Architectural History.”
Huet received her Ph.D. in history and theory of architecture from Harvard University in 2022. Prior to her doctoral studies, she earned an M.A. from Williams College and a B.A. from Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, both in art history. Her research has been generously supported by grants and fellowships from academic centers in France and the United States. They include the Fondation Palladio and the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture.