This Thing Called Theory

12th International Architectural Humanities Research Association Conference

Leeds Beckett University

November 19 2015 - November 21 2015

This conference proposes Theory as a form of architectural practice which opposes the instrumentalization of its use. It aims to explore the status of Theory in architecture through an examination of instances in current practice, and invites critical reconsiderations of the role of Theory in architecture, its successes and shortcomings. It seeks to trigger discussions, arguments and polemics around this thing called Theory. 

 

 CALL FOR PAPERS

 This Thing Called Theory  12th AHRA International Conference

http://www.thisthingcalledtheory.org/

http://cagd.co.uk/public/research/design_and_creativity.php

Leeds Beckett University

School of Art, Architecture and Design

Leeds, United Kingdom

19th-21st November 2015

This conference proposes Theory as a form of architectural practice which opposes the instrumentalization of its use. It aims to explore the status of Theory in architecture through an examination of instances in current practice, and invites critical reconsiderations of the role of Theory in architecture, its successes and shortcomings. It seeks to trigger discussions, arguments and polemics around this thing called Theory.


SYNOPSIS

 Since the Architectural Humanities Research Association was created twelve years ago to promote and develop research in the architectural humanities, the practices of architecture have transformed and diversified, and so has the relationship between the designs, representations and makings of architecture and their surrounding discourses. 

After semiotics, psychoanalysis, deconstruction’s flirt with Derridean philosophy, and Deleuzian redefinitions of folds and diagrams, the impact of the digital in architecture seemed to have vanquished the ‘need’ for architecture to refer to discourses from the humanities. Whilst concerns of the humanities are converging with the sciences, they are also simultaneously diverging and dissipating with notions of network, apparatus and agency. The recent imperative in architecture to withdraw from claims of singular design visions has also been characterised by the gathering of individuated credits and subjecting to commodified distribution in the production of theory.

Today, in an age of extreme specialization and thus far inconceivable intersections of fragmented strands of knowledge, architecture continues to reinvent itself. As architecture reconsiders its status as a discipline in relation to digital technologies, material sciences, biology and environmental transformations, it continues to resort to and introject thoughts and practices developed ‘outside’ architecture. It is indeed the very openness and connectedness of architecture that can offer a line of continuity in the ongoing process of self-definition and reinvention that has always characterized architecture as a practice of the multiple and of the critical.  As a discipline that never simply makes physical environments, architecture will continue to act in and through all its intersections with its ‘other’ as a critical and cultural agent.

CALL FOR PAPERS

While architecture’s discourse seemed to have been muted with the shift from the alphabet to the algorithm (Mario Carpo, 2011), it has more recently emerged that even for the digital it is already not only possible but indeed necessary to construct an archaeology (Greg Lynn, 2013), and this has to be both historical and critical. Log’s ‘Stocktaking’ issue (summer 2013) borrowed Reyner Banham 1960’s instrumental opposition of tradition and technology to resume (or restart) a critical discourse on contemporary architectural practices, attempting to relate them to recent and not so recent disciplinary pasts, while the ‘Ways to Be Critical’ proposed by Volume 36 (Archis 2013, no. 2) seems to reduce the issue of criticality to a series of positions of militant criticism.

 Beyond the mediatory function of theory (Michael Hays, 2000) and its problematic tag of authorship and authority (Giorgio Agamben, in ‘What is a Paradigm’, 2002), this conference proposes that theory, far from dead, extinct or rejected, remains crucial to the discipline. In the age of post-digital architecture and digital materiality, This Thing Called Theory aims to explore current practices of theory.

This conference proposes Theory as a form of architectural practice which opposes the instrumentalization of its use. It aims to explore the status of Theory in architecture through an examination of instances in current practice, and invites critical reconsiderations of the role of Theory in architecture, its successes and shortcomings. It seeks to trigger discussions, arguments and polemics around this thing called Theory.

 

We have identified three main areas for discussion and argumentation:

THIS THING CALLED THEORY

THOUGHT

 Theory as Criticism

Theory as Architecture

Theory as History

ACTION

Theory as Politics

Theory as Praxis

Theory as Material

SPECULATION

Theory as Utopia

Theory as Science

Theory as Media

We invite individual and group proposals for 20 minute papers and full sessions from architectural historians, theorists, designers and practitioners, as well as those working on the issues identified in the synopsis from other disciplines, including film-making, art practice and performance.

We welcome contributions that explore contemporary developments and project future trends, as well as those that offer retrospective theoretical and critical interrogations.

Please send a 500 word abstract, including title, and a 50 word biographical note to

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

and

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Deadline for abstracts of papers: 4th May 2015

Please note that full papers will be required prior to the conference for panel chairs and to begin the editorial process for publication in the This Thing Called Theory volume of the Routledge ‘Critiques’ series, and for a special conference issue of Architecture and Culture, the AHRA journal.

 

CONFERENCE

Thursday 19th - Saturday 21st November 2015

VENUES

Rose Bowl Building, City Campus, Leeds Beckett University, and other venues in Leeds (UK) city centre.

WEBSITE

http://www.thisthingcalledtheory.org/

http://cagd.co.uk/public/research/design_and_creativity.php

 

CONFERENCE COMMITTEE

Professor Teresa Stoppani, Head The Leeds School of Architecture, Leeds Beckett University, E:  .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Dr Doreen Bernath, Senior Lecturer in Architecture and Leader of the BA Architectural Studies course, The Leeds School of Architecture, Leeds Beckett University, E:  .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Braden Engel, Undergraduate History and Theory Coordinator, Academy of Art University, San Francisco andPhD Candidate, The Leeds School of Architecture, Leeds Beckett University

George Themistocleous, Part Time Lecturer, and PhD Candidate, Leeds Beckett University