AHRA Newsletter:
November-December 2012

This is the latest issue of the newsletter highlighting forthcoming events, conferences, publications and other research activities.

Please note the following important dates for AHRA events: 

10th Annual AHRA Research Student Symposium: Facts and Fictions

Department of Architecture and Built Environment, Lund University (May 03 2013)

Deadline for Call for Papers: Friday 9th November 2012


The 9th AHRA International Conference: Architecture and the Paradox of Dissidence

London Metropolitan University

November 15 2012 - November 17 2012

If you would like to receive this information by e-mail, and you haven't yet signed up as a member of AHRA, please follow the link to the AHRA website for details of how to register on the database. Membership is currently free and is open to all humanities researchers working in Schools of Architecture and related disciplines both in the UK and overseas. Please also encourage colleagues to register here: http://www.ahra-architecture.org/registration/

If you are planning a research event that you would like to promote through the newsletter, please log in to the AHRA website and post the details by clicking on the 'Post Your Event' link under the 'Events' menu. These details will appear on the 'Future Events' page within a few days (subject to moderation) and will also be included in the next issue of the Newsletter. If you have not logged in to the site before, you should enter your default username ('firstnamelastname') and click on the 'forgotten your password' link for further instructions.

To promote other items of interest (new books, courses, other research resources etc) please send details by email to Stephen Walker at:

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

The next newsletter will be issued in January 2013.

New Events

ASCAAD 2013 conference

Digital Crafting:Virtualizing Architecture and Delivering Real Built Environment

Effat University, Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

December 16 2013 - December 18 2013

ASCAAD 7th Conference theme is exploring the linkages among digital design process thinking, constructability, the digital manufacturing process and their impact on the practice of architecture, engineering and construction. However, through digital design computation process, one would notice that the traditional master-builder design thinking approaches are still strongly implemented in processes such as: object making, digital fabrication, design-to-fabricate, parametric technology, BIM, machining, manufacturing analysis, building performance analysis. This evolution has combined the ability of fine crafted detailing with digital design and manufacturing and put a shift towards seamless collaboration between design and construction.

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Mon 16 December 2013

Biophilic Design

Harmonious inter-relationship between built and natural context at both neighborhood and city scale

International Society of Biourbanism

August 30 2013

Call for Papers:

The new Journal of Bio Urbanism (JBU), a peer-reviewed international online journal of architecture, planning, and built environment studies, is currently considering papers for inclusion in its first issue launching in 2011.

The JBU aims at establishing a bridge between new theories and practice in the fields of design, architectural and urban planning, and built environment studies.

We invite papers which examine the latest research on biophilic approach, and focuses on harmonious inter-relationship between built and natural context at both neighborhood and city scale.

Please send your submissions to the editor (.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)), by 30 August 2011.

Participants will be notified by November 2011.

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Fri 30 August 2013

International Symposium on Urbanism, Spirituality & Well Being

Exploring the Past and Present | Envisioning the Future

Hingham, MA & Harvard University Divinity School

June 06 2013 - June 09 2013

The International Symposium on Urbanism, Spirituality & Well Being will convene experts in the fields of architecture, landscape design, urbanism, religious studies, public health and other related disciplines to address leading-edge global culture and urbanism issues from contemplative, spiritual, philosophical, design and ethical perspectives. The 2 1/2 day program of scholarly presentations and panel discussions is sponsored by the Harvard Divinity School, the the Harvard Center for Health and Global Environment, and The International Forum for Architecture, Culture and Spirituality. The symposium topics include scholarship on the history of cities and architecture planned according to spiritual motivations or principles; the contemporary built urban environment and the plethora of forces that shape it; and the meaningful, sustainable and spiritual prospects of future urban life that nurtures meaningful, sustainable, and spiritually inspiring built environments and architecture.

The symposium will begin with a keynote address on Thursday, June 6th, followed on Friday by peer-reviewed paper sessions and a keynote address, both of which will be conducted at Glastonbury Abbey. On Saturday, the symposium will be conducted at the Harvard Divinity School and include invited speakers and panel discussions by leading experts in the field. Sunday will include a concluding session, the ACS business meeting, and an excursion to be announced. 

For information regarding submission of paper proposals (deadline January 14, 2013), symposium location, cost, format, and themes, go to http://www.acsforum.org/usw_symposium/



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Thu 6 June 2013

Transitory, Transportable and Transformable: Temporary Conditions in Architecture

Alan Baxter Associates, 75 Cowcross Street, London EC1M 6EL

May 18 2013


Proposals are invited for papers addressing the theme of TEMPORARY CONDITIONS IN  ARCHITECTURE to be presented at the 2013 Annual Symposium of the Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain, to be held Alan Baxter Associates, 75 Cowcross Street, London  EC1M 6EL, on Saturday 18 May  2013.

Architecture is generally regarded as being, for the most part, permanent, static and immutable.  However some significant buildings are intended to be temporary, whereas others are designed to be moved from one location to another or even to be flexible enough to alter their form and appearance as the result of changing requirements.  This symposium intends to explore the temporary condition in architecture and to question whether architecture needs to be either permanent, static or immutable.

Transitory:  Many buildings are short-lived, but few of them are regarded as serious architecture.  In 1661, triumphal arches were erected for Charles II’s coronation procession from the City of London to Westminster.  Constructed largely of timber, plaster and canvas, they were architecturally elaborate yet intentionally impermanent, only to be soon swept away.  Political expediency, no doubt, necessitated their quick erection, otherwise they might have been built in stone and, like Temple Bar (1670-72), still stand today, albeit not in its original location.  Modern materials allow for the quick and permanent erection of buildings such as Team 4’s prize-winning Reliance Controls Electronics Factory at Swindon (1967).  Yet despite the longevity of its materials, this building was intentionally short-lived and, having served its purpose, was demolished in 1991.  Only the ‘thirty-year rule’ saved it from being listed, as it might well have been.  Papers could consider whether the lack of permanence in architecture diminishes its value or, on the other hand, whether the permanence which listing building legislation imposes and implies, ultimately benefits it. 

Transportable:  The Crystal Palace (1851) was first erected, in Hyde Park, as a temporary building but was soon transported to Sydenham where it was re-erected.  This was made possible by its pre-fabricated, component-based assembly process.  This thinking allowed pre-fabricated buildings to be sent out across the world by the European colonial powers in both the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.  Whether these be William Slater’s cast-iron church for the Ecclesiologists (1853-56) or Jean Prouvé’s steel barracks for the French army (1939), the use of transportable architecture to establish and promote religious or military, and therefore political control, was the same.  Conversely, the practice of retrieving and displaying spolia as a demonstration of political control, such as Napoleon’s relocation to the Arc de Triomphe, in 1797, of the quadriga from St Mark’s Basilica, Venice, shows that architecture can be as easily brought home as it can be sent out.  Papers, therefore, might like to investigate the use of transportable architecture as both a vehicle and an affirmation of colonisation and the influence which these buildings had on the national architecture, culture and society of the colony and the coloniser alike.

Transformable: If the Pyramids are regarded as the ultimate expression of permanence in architecture, then the Pompidou Centre, as originally conceived in 1971, might be the antithesis.  For here the floors could move, the envelope could be reassembled, and the exposed services regularly modified.  Although the floors, in the end, remained static, the building has been noticeably transformed over the years.  Today, ‘Legacy’ is one of the key-words for the London 2012 Olympics.  Yet few of the buildings destined to remain will be left in their original condition; many will be transformed.  The side wings will be loped off Zaha Hadid’s swimming pool and the upper stage will be removed from Populous’s stadium.  In considering legacy, papers might ask whether there is a real architectural legacy in such a situation and whether those few buildings which will emerge unscathed, such as, hopefully, Hopkins Architects’ velodrome, will provide the only true reminder of the Olympics. 

Abstracts of not more than 250 words should be sent to Professor Neil Jackson at the School of Architecture, University of Liverpool, Abercromby Square, Liverpool L69 7ZN or e-mailed to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) no later than 15 October 2012.  Authors will be advised by 3 December 2012 whether or not their paper has been selected.

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Sat 18 May 2013

10th Annual AHRA Research Student Symposium

Facts and Fictions

Department of Architecture and Built Environment, Lund University

May 03 2013 - May 03 2013

The symposium provides an international platform for PhD students/candidates in the architectural humanities to meet, present and discuss their work.

Call for Papers: Facts and Fictions

The AHRA invites proposals from Phd students/candidates in the architectural humanities for contributions to its 10th Annual Student Research Symposium, which will be arranged by ResArc, and will take place on Friday 3rd May 2013 at the Department of Architecture and Built Environment, Lund University. Proposals for papers in any area of the architectural humanities are welcome, including culture, theory and design. Papers will be 20 minutes long. The symposium will conclude with a keynote presentation by Mark Jarzombek, Professor of the History and Theory of Architecture, MIT. Title of his lecture: Global History in a Non-Global World. The symposium will be free to attend. 

Proposals for papers should be a maximum of 500 words, and should be sent by 

email headed “AHRA PhD symposium 2013” to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

The deadline is Friday 9th November 2012, and it is hoped that we will be able to advise successful candidates within a month from that date.

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Fri 3 May 2013

A Strange Utility: Architecture Toward Other Ends

CFP Deadline: Friday, November 2, 2012

Portland State University, Portland, OR, USA

April 26 2013

Ours is an era of austerity measures, global economic turmoil, and resource depletion in which the utility, or “use value” of any product, resource, or process is championed as its foremost virtue. Politicians aspire to budgets that maintain only the most functional and necessary line-items and consumers seek products that are economical in their use of resources or their adaptability from one utility to another—for example, cars that use only a limited amount of gasoline, furniture that converts into other uses, cell phones that are also computers, cameras, and personal navigation systems.
Of course, the discipline of architecture has always been linked to the idea of utility—albeit in a variety of ways and to different degrees. From architecture’s putative origins as a primitive form of shelter made of foliage to the Modernist dictum that form follows function, architecture, from the beginning, has been required to perform a “useful” function. Not surprisingly, utility remains a central concern within contemporary architectural practice, but alongside some of the obvious benefits—the development of more energy efficient materials and processes and the economic incentive to redevelop existing buildings before building anew—have come some strange, if understudied effects. It is now common to describe the inhabitants of buildings as “users,” a turn of phrase that subtly positions architecture as a product whose value, in the end, is determined primarily by the function of its use, and its inhabitants, in the end, as consumers of space, rather than active participants who engage with and indeed transform   space through their habits, interventions, and rituals.
Meanwhile, outside the confines of mainstream practice, architecture is being appropriated to ends that seem to dramatically expand and estrange the familiar notion of utility.  For example, contemporary Polish artist Monika Sosnowska recently used the twisted architectural form of a Soviet-bloc government building as a metaphor for the pressures exerted upon now-collapsed political regimes. Likewise, artists Paul Pfeiffer, Thomas Demand, and James Casebere have all used the architectural model (and its subsequent imaging) as a vehicle for addressing historical and societal ills, their photographs addressing subjects such as the atomization of the crowd at the sports arena, the history of American slavery, and the atrocities of Nazi Germany. At the same time, for revered science-fiction author Bruce Sterling, architecture is the very medium through which future worlds are destroyed, imagined, and rebuilt. Moreover, within the sphere of architecture itself, as envisioned by Jean-Gilles Décosterd and Philippe Rahm, the built environment is designed to incite physiological and biological responses; indeed, for many avant-garde architects, architecture is both a medium and means to an unconventional end, one part of an equation that considers, among many influences, the social, cultural, mythological, economic, electromagnetic, biological and chemical interactions between our bodies and the built environments they engage.
Recognizing the contemporary currency of utility, this symposium seeks unexpected ways of defining this term within and with respect to the built environment. Submissions sought include, but are not limited to, academic papers, performances, audience-participatory projects, poetry, and prose. This symposium will be structured around a series of events and speakers that grapple with the following questions: how and who has defined architecture’s use-value, its utility? How can turning to other disciplines’ unexpected utilization of architecture expand architects’ and architectural historians’ perception of architecture’s utility? And, what are architecture’s future utilities? As architecture’s primary function is called into question daily, we may find that the answer to architecture’s future lies precisely in its strange utility. 

Confirmed Keynote Speakers: 
Philippe Rahm, Philippe Rahm architectes, Paris, France
Jimenez Lai, Assistant Professor of Architecture, University of Illinois Chicago
Jill L. Stoner, Associate Professor of Architecture, UC Berkeley

Please respond with 500 word abstract/proposal and CV, emailed to both:

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


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

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Fri 26 April 2013

Between Architecture of War and Military Urbanism

10th Urban and Landscape Days

Tallinn, Estonia

April 26 2013 - April 28 2013

The international scientific conference "Between architecture of war and military urbanism" is the 10th edition of the annual series of Urban and Landscape Days. Organized by the Estonian Academy of Arts, Faculty of Architecture, the event brings together architecture, planning, landscape studies, critical urban studies and art.

The idea behind the theme of 2013 is to facilitate a creative and critical interrogation of links between the political economy of war, the transfer of military practices and technologies to urban realm, and the 'architectures of war', such as military bases, fortifications and refugee camps, which comprise a largely forgotten topic in planning and architecture.

Abstract submission deadline is October 1, 2012.

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Fri 26 April 2013

Emerging Research

Second AIARG Annual Conference

University of Limerick, Ireland

January 25 2013 - January 26 2013

In its second annual conference, the All Ireland Architectural Research Group (AIARG) will build on last year’s survey of current architectural research in Ireland. Allowing for a broad and inclusive spectrum of architectural research experiences present on the island of Ireland, this symposium aims to empower those engaged in research, to further enable research exchange and collaboration, and to position more clearly and more strongly our research in architecture, through architecture and about architecture.

This year’s conference will provide two opportunities: firstly, to continue the now-established forum for the presentation and discussion of emerging research; secondly, to foreground, in a special session of the conference, questions about the purpose, process and impact of contemporary architectural research in Ireland. For all presentations, we invite you to address issues of relevance, method and reception. In this, we hope to reach beyond the specifics of individual research topics and to focus on issues shared by all engaged in research, be it scholarly or practice-based.

This invitation is open to all actively undertaking architectural research in Ireland or focused on Ireland, both in practice and in academia, within the discipline of architecture, along its fringes or looking at architecture from ‘outside’.

We thus invite 250-word abstracts summarizing a 15-minute paper or contribution:

–       on current architectural research; and/or
–       considering the purpose and relevance, process and method, audience and effect of contemporary architectural research in Ireland.

We also invite proposals for themed sessions. Please submit a short outline for the theme of the session, a list of the contributors, their affiliation, and the individual abstracts. Please note: the organizers of a themed session will be responsible for gathering the contributors to that session – issuing a special call for papers for a proposed themed session is welcomed. 


Submission of abstracts (250 words) and/or themed session proposals: 12 November 2012

Notification of acceptance: 1 December 2012

Conference dates: Friday, 25 and Saturday, 26 January 2013

Venue: University of Limerick, Plassey Park Campus, Limerick, Ireland


AIARG All Ireland Architectural Research Group
SAUL School of Architecture University of Limerick

Jan Frohburg    .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Anna Ryan      .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)


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Fri 25 January 2013

2012 Interstices Under Construction Symposium

Immaterial materialities: Materiality and interactivity in art and architecture

The University of Technology Sydney, Schools of Architecture and Design

November 28 2012 - November 30 2012

Materiality has recently claimed centre stage in architectural discourse and practice, yet its critical meaning is ever receding.  Tropes like material honesty, digital materiality, material responsiveness and dematerialisation mark out an interdisciplinary field where scientific fact and artistic experimentation interact, and where what in fact constitutes materiality and immateriality is constantly re-imagined.

As a reaction to developments in science, materiality came under scrutiny with the emergence of nineteenth century German aesthetics (Vischer, Schmarsow) and the early avant-garde projects (Lissitzky, van Doesburg). Initiating an epistemic shift in art and architecture, these works pointed to the connection between the material properties of objects and spaces and their interaction with the inhabitant through psycho-perceptual effects. These ideas re-emerged transformed in the work of the Neo-avant-garde of the 1960s and 70s.

More recent approaches deploy materials as mediators or activating agents that probe the relationship between audience/user and physical environment: Spatial investigations with phenomena-producing materials such as water, light, colour and temperature experiment with the viewer’s experience (Eliasson); responsive high-tech materials interact with audiences (Spuybroek); weather architectures (Hill), or atmo architectures (Sloterdijk) technologically re-create nature as spatial experience (Diller and Scofidio).

Materials can give rise to seemingly incompatible connotations: photographic representations of Zumthor’s atmospheric concrete spaces reveal unexpected links with the post-industrial spaces of power plants and cooling towers (Ursprung). In the Pacific region, space has eminently temporal aspects and, particularly in indigenous buildings, rare walls are permeable and breathing. At the same time, the popular use of low-cost materials such as corrugated metal connects the wool-shed, the beach house and industrial estates educing trans-historical, cross-cultural, and climatic associations.In architectural practice and education, experiments in material-oriented computational design explore the design potential of conventional construction materials.

All these approaches probe boundaries - between material and immaterial, art and science, practice and theory, representation and experience, tradition and innovation, and producer/object/user, giving rise to the following concerns:

What is the validity of different approaches to materiality in relation to the vital problems of our time?

Can materials be deployed to create environments which predict user behaviour and control social relations and experiences?

What trans-historical correspondences can be detected in contemporary approaches to materiality, and how do these challenge, imitate and expand on previous thinking?


Please send a 500-word abstract and a short cv to Sandra Karina Löschke (.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)) by 25 June 2012. Notifications will be sent out by 23 July, 2012. Double-blind refereed abstracts, if accepted, will be published on the Interstices website (http://www.interstices.auckland.ac.nz).   Selected contributions will be published. The symposium is followed by a call for papers for the Issue 14 of Interstices: A Journal of Architecture and Related Arts on the same topic. The symposium takes place at the University of Technology Sydney on 28 -30 November 2012.

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Wed 28 November 2012



November 23 2012

THE EVENT IS FREE FOR ALL. PLEASE BOOK AT themakingofmodernankara.eventbrite.co.uk


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Fri 23 November 2012

Architecture and the Paradox of Dissidence

The 9th International Architectural Humanities Research Association International Conference

London Metropolitan University

November 15 2012 - November 17 2012

This conference aims to reflect on the relevance of the concept of dissidence for architectural practice today. Although dissidence has been primarily associated with architectural practices in the Eastern Bloc at the end of the Cold War period, contemporary architectural and other aesthetic practices have in recent years developed a host of new methodologies and techniques for articulating their distance from and critique of dominant political and financial structures. Architecture and the Paradox of Dissidence asks how we can conceive of the contemporary political problems and paradoxes of architecture in relation to their precedents? Devoid of the agency of action, Cold War dissidents articulated their positions in drawings of fantasy-like paper architecture, while contemporary forms of architectural practice seem to gravitate towards activism and direct-action in the world. The political issues – from interventions in charged areas worldwide to research in conflict zones and areas undergoing transformations – currently stimulate a field of abundant invention in contemporary architecture. Both, Cold War dissidents and contemporary activists encounter problems and paradoxes and must navigate complex political force fields within which possible complicities are inherent risks. 

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Thu 15 November 2012


Theory Forum / School of Architecture / The University of Sheffield / 13-14 November 2012

Sheffield School of Architecture

November 12 2012 - November 13 2012

Blind spots exist in every society, culture, and urban fabric. They can be spatial, social, economic, or policy related. On the one hand, blind spots are typically situations and topics that are obscured by other themes; they fall outside our radar because they are neither considered topical nor pressing enough to be addressed by policy or planning. On the other hand, blind spots also describe necessary places of informality; places and spaces which are overlooked by the authorities, by planning or other users, and thereby allow for indeterminate, unregulated, informal, non-prescribed and open uses. 

We also understand blind spots as those cities and urban conglomerations that are usually overlooked or sidelined by the Euro-centric canon of urban history or an urban discourse that focuses on those global, fast growing metropolises that provide us with a high level of imagery, staggering data and socio-spatial extremes.

Blind spots also relate to approaches, research and teaching projects that look beyond the conventional approaches of architectural and urban history in order to value and champion other ways of surveying and of accounting for cities; ways that aim at transforming the tools with which both citizens and architects might understand cities. In this sense, blind spots refer to different perceptive and representational methods through which one can describe urban conditions. 

Call for contributions

We invite proposals for talks, exhibitions, performances, walks, or events relating to the notions of Urban Blind Spots outlined above. We are explicitly asking for cross-, trans-, or non-disciplinary approaches and forms of expressions. Talks can follow the form of a conventional academic presentation but we would also like to encourage proposals for presentations in other formats such as staged conversations/discussions, films, exhibitions, or other project documentations. The Theory Forum is attended by Masters students at the School of Architecture as part of their course, and speakers will be asked to participate in debates and seminars involving students.

Please send a 500 word abstract or presentation description by 15th September 2012 to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), as a PDF attachment to an email, with “URBAN BLIND SPOTS” as the email subject. The abstract should be anonymous to allow for a blind review process. Please include your contact in the body of the email.

All proposals will be double peer-reviewed. Selected contributions will be invited to submit a paper for publication in a special edition of field: [http://www.field-journal.org/index.php].



Submission of abstracts: 15th September 2012

Confirmation of acceptance: 5th October 2012

Submission of full papers; full exhibition/performance/event concept: 1st November 2012

Conference registration: 1st November

Theory Forum: 13th and 14th November 2012

Publication of field: November 2013


Theory Forum

The Theory Forum is an annual two-day cross-disciplinary platform of events organised by the Sheffield School of Architecture, featuring diverse talks, workshops, walks, film screenings and exhibitions.

This year’s focus and forum title is Urban Blind Spots. It is the 14th event of this series and follows on from recent high profile international conferences and events such as Digital Worlds (2011), At Home (2010), Ecology (2009), Agency (2008) and Alternate Currents (2007).

Urban Blind spots hopes to bring together a range of people from different disciplines, academia and practice, exploring and discussing the various notions of blind spots in relation to cities and the way they are produced, used, perceived and portrayed. It is aimed to be a testing ground through which the multi-faceted manifestations and understandings of blind spots can be explored and theorized.



Theory Forum 2012 will take place on 13 and 14 November as a multi-faceted habitat of adaptable spaces with diverse talks, workshops and interventions. It will be held at Sheffield School of Architecture as well as is blind spots across the city.



Participation is free of charge and open to the public. Non-SSoA members will have to register by 1st November 2013



This year's forum is organised by Dr Florian Kossak, Dr Tatjana Schneider and Dr Stephen Walker. Urban Blind Spots is part of on-going research on Radical Urbanism (Kossak/Schneider) and Urban (Hi-)Stories (Kossak/Walker). It is conducted in association with the SSoA Research Centre AGENCY and the MA in Urban Design Programme (MAUD).



Contact:           Theory Forum 2012: Urban Blind Spots

                        Sheffield School of Architecture

                        University of Sheffield

                        The Arts Tower, Western Bank

                        Sheffield S10 2TN

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

                        +44 (0) 114 2220341



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Mon 12 November 2012

British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowships 2013

Centre for Latin American Studies - University of Cambridge

October 10 2012

The Centre of Latin American Studies (CLAS), University of Cambridge, invites applications for hosting from applicants for BA Postdoctoral Fellowships from 2013.

The Centre would particularly welcome applications from Latin Americanists with research interests in Modern History, Social Anthropology or the Built Environment. Successful applicants would be asked to make a modest contribution, within their chosen discipline, to teaching on the MPhil in Latin American Studies. CLAS has a thriving research community of MPhil and PhD students, and draws on the expertise of post-docs and academic staff working on Latin America across the university.

The BA deadline for outline applications is 10 October 2012, with application forms available from the e-GAP system from 31 August 2012.

(BA Postdoctoral Fellowships webpage: http://www.britac.ac.uk/funding/guide/pdfells.cfm <http://www.britac.ac.uk/funding/guide/pdfells.cfm> )

 Applicants for hosting at CLAS should send expressions of interest and an outline of their project to the Centre Administrator, Mr Samuel Mather (.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) <mailto:sjrm2@cam.ac.uk> ), for the attention of the Director, Dr Charles Jones, by 17 September 2012

For information about the Centre of Latin American Studies, please see our website:

http://www.latin-american.cam.ac.uk/ <http://www.latin-american.cam.ac.uk/

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Wed 10 October 2012

Home Truths

RIBA Research Symposium 2012

Jarvis Hall, RIBA, 66 Portland Place, London

October 04 2012

Thursday 4 October 2012, 9.30am - 5pm

With the state of the economy halting the progress of many new build projects, and the vast majority of our future homes having already been constructed, the refurbishment of existing housing stock presents a great opportunity for architects. With this context in mind, as well as the launch of the government's Green Deal initiative, it's time to ask the question: what challenges and problems lie beneath the maxim 'don't move, improve'?

Encompassing issues including conservation, sustainability and design quality, the RIBA's 7th annual research symposium will try to find out whether old houses can become modern homes. With case studies from both architects and academics, and the presentation of an exciting student design charrette devised just for this event, the symposium will be an unmissable date in the autumn.

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Thu 4 October 2012

Annual UCL Urban Laboratory/CITY journal lecture: Professor Margit Mayer

First World Urban Activism – wedged between austerity urbanism and creative city politics

rchaeology Lecture Theatre, UCL Institute of Archaeology, 31-34 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PY

October 02 2012

Public lecture – all welcome. No RSVP necessary – first-come, first-served.

The talk looks at contemporary urban activism as it mobilizes around policies and conflicts characteristic of the comparatively privileged Western cities of the global North. It thus moves beyond 'Cities for People, not for Profit' by zeroing in on the specificities of urbanization processes and the reorganization of socio-spatial infrastructures, as well as their contestations, in one particular region of the ongoing, global and uneven development of capitalist accumulation.

By applying the framework of critical urban theory to the analysis of ongoing struggles in this region, it first identifies the particularities of neoliberal urbanism and its implications for (divisions and/or solidarities between) urban social movements (1), and secondly looks at the impact which the so-called Occupy movements that have rippled across cities in North America as well as Western Europe have had on urban protest (2).

1. As opposed to the previous Keynesian form of urbanism, when the Fordist city provided openings for struggles around improved collective infrastructures, neoliberal urbanism (thanks to intensified accumulation by dispossession) enhances socio-spatial polarization coupled with austerity politics, dismantling of social infrastructures, and stricter policing, while it also incorporates and harnesses many elements of urban alternative movements that feed cultural creativity and entrepreneurial activation. These dynamics create distances and sometimes collisions between more culturally oriented and more politically oriented activist groups, but also enforce affinities and solidarities between anti-privatization and anti-eviction struggles in the global South with those of (ethnically or migrant-based) organizing in the global North. 

2. The effect of and responses to the 2008 financial meltdown have aggravated social marginalization and polarization processes, exacerbated the housing crisis in many regions of the world, and enforced systemic austerity politics. This catalyzed the15M movement in Spain, which inspired similar "real democracy" movements of Indignados across Europe, as well as the Occupy movement in North America. Their powerful resistance energy has, after the eviction of occupied squares and plazas, in many cities turned to urban neighborhoods and community struggles and infused these heterogeneous contestations with a radical critique of financial and political power and with direct-democratic and prefigurative organizing styles. In this process, distances and divisions between a (racialized) "global proletariat" and progressive or radical middle-class based activists may come to the surface and begin to be respected and bridged. 

Mayer, M.,  Social Movements in the (Post-)Neoliberal City. Civic City Cahier 1. London: Bedford Press 2010.

 Mayer, M., Jenny Künkel, eds., Neoliberal Urbanism and Its Contestations – Crossing Theoretical Boundaries. London: Palgrave Publishers, 2012. 

Brenner, N., Marcuse, P., Mayer, M., eds., Cities for People, Not for Profit: Critical Urban Theory and the Right to the City. London: Routledge 2012. 

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Tue 2 October 2012

The Wrong Architecture?

Cambridge University, Department of Architecture

September 24 2012

A symposium in Cambridge, on Monday 24th September, around the theme of evaluating the architecture of the 1950s and 60's - more or less the period of "Brutalism". The session has been conceived by Marco Iuliano and Nicholas Ray: the idea is that there will be two round-table discussions, bringing together building designers, users, managers, critics and historians, with architects currently engaged with the repair of buildings of the period.

Important: the event will take place in the Department of Architecture, Scroope Terrace 1, Cambridge, 3-6.30 PM. It is free, but limited places are available and booking in advance is highly recommended. If you want to join us please email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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Mon 24 September 2012


A panel at SAHANZ 2013

OPEN: The Thirtieth Annual Conference of the Society of Architectural Historians, Australia and New Zealand, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia, 2-5 July 2013

September 21 2012

Deadline: September 21, 2012



A panel for OPEN: The Thirtieth Annual Conference of the Society of Architectural Historians, Australia and New Zealand, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia, 2-5 July 2013

For more details about the conference visit:



Three speakers will be selected for participation. Those not selected will still be eligible to join the “open” pool of speakers at the conference.




And everywhere

Those strange polygonal igloos,

Subjects of such long debates,

Domes whose theory fascinates

(and leads to such vague ballyhoo),

appear in groups, or one’s and two’s –

the dream of every half-stoned guru.

            To prove we can both think and do,

            The Geodesic Word is made bamboo.

(excerpt from Mark O’Connor, “from What Happened at Nimbin”, Reef Poems, University of Queensland Press, 1976)


Bamboo, but also dowel, polythene, parachute silk and cardboard; as Mark O’Connor’s poem suggests, a lot of geodesic domes were built at the 1973 Aquarius Festival. Many of them were the work of architecture students, lecturers and practitioners who had travelled to the event from all over Australia. The festival – held in Nimbin, NSW, and attended by more than 5000 people – intertwined all manner of architectural experiments and their participants. It also pointed to a broader architectural engagement with Australian radicalism of the 1960s and 1970s: new social movements, environmental activism and an anti-disciplinary politics.

However, the event is far from being a key reference point in discussions about Australian architecture of the period. A concerted historical and theoretical interrogation of Australian architecture’s dissident fringes and occluded experiments during the 1960s and 1970s is yet to be undertaken. Looking back, the only attempt at a comprehensive history of Australian architecture – J.M. Freeland’s Architecture in Australia: A History (1968) concludes its account in 1967, with the grave forecast of an increasing corporatisation of professional practice. Perhaps the most comprehensive local history that does deal with the 1960s and 1970s is Jennifer Taylor’s Australian Architecture Since 1960 (first published in 1986). However, the extra-disciplinary endeavours that the Aquarius Festival activities signify fails to register in Taylor’s conception of architectural practice, or are reduced to a minor reference by an emphasis on aesthetic impact and formal lineage.

This historical lacuna has meant that local experimental and subversive projects, conceptual work, pedagogical initiatives, exhibitions and publications connected to the radicalism of that period remain largely unexamined – the stuff of mythology. The (often brief) lines of flight such activity projected beyond dominant paradigms warrant examination not in the hope of reclaiming them for the present but rather in considering the dialogue with history as a site of potentiality. An important project lies in the excavation of those little-known, alternative architectural initiatives – one that could meaningfully reshape understanding of postmodern Australian architectural history.

Aside from addressing this suggested historical lacuna, and a commensurate potential to disrupt conventional narratives of Australian architectural postmodernism, there are broader issues of historiography that might be addressed. The abundant geodesic domes at the Aquarius Festival are a recognizable trope of the 1960s and 1970s “counterculture”, and they easily conjure connections with international precedents such as the American art-commune “Drop City.” In turn, this resonance brings into focus questions about the distinctiveness of an Australian counterculture, or countercultural architecture (leaving aside the very slipperiness of the term counterculture).  The international influence of radicalism and countercultural activity of the United States during the 1960s and 1970s is subject to enduring debate, but there has been a clear tendency to view it as overwhelmingly defining Australian experiences. The sociologist Dennis Altman observed in 1977 that “In many ways the counter-culture was a product of the United States, and it was exported to countries like Australia much as are other cultural phenomena.”

Another issue, which somewhat problematises the question of cultural influence sketched out above, is one of historical continuity. There is also contention around just how novel the cultural opposition of the period was – how “counter” was the counterculture? For example, Janice Newton has linked the Aquarius Festival and the subsequent development of alternative, intentional communities around Nimbin to a distinctively Australian history of Utopian movements stretching back to the 1890s.

We might ask similar questions of Australian architectural experiments – the “other” architecture of the period – that were connected to that radical, countercultural activity. To what extent can they be distinguished from now-celebrated international European and North American examples: Archigram to Archizoom to Ant Farm? Also, what local precedents might lie beyond the period discussed here?

This panel will examine such questions in the Australian context. However, it is also interested in exploring the 1960s and 1970s peripheral, radical architectures of other countries outside the familiar European and North American milieu. Topics might include:

  • Architectural engagement with new social movements
  • Alternative publishing/zines
  • Architectural NGOs
  • Experiments with alternative technologies
  • Radical pedagogical initiatives
  • Participatory and collaborative design experiments
  • Architectural co-operatives
  • Intentional communities
  • Experiments in self-organisation
  • DIY or self-build architecture
  • “community architecture”

Abstracts (300 words) should be submitted by 21st September 2012, to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Authors of short-listed abstracts will be notified by the 28th September and will then need to submit their abstract to the online conference management system by 30th September for blind peer review.


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Fri 21 September 2012

New Publications

Scale: Imagination, Perception and Practice in Architecture

Scale is a word which underlies much of architectural and urban design practice, its history and theory, and its technology. Its connotations have traditionally been linked with the humanities, in the sense of relating to human societies and to human form. ‘To build in scale’ is an aspiration that is usually taken for granted by most of those involved in architectural production, as well as by members of the public; yet in a world where value systems of all kinds are being questioned, the term has come under renewed scrutiny. The older, more particular, meanings in the humanities, pertaining to classical Western culture, are where the sense of scale often resides in cultural production.

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Fri 20 April 2012

Interstitiality in Contemporary Art & Architecture: An Inter-passage from Delineating to Unfolding

Eugenia Fratzeskou

The present study offers an investigation into the notion of interstitial space and its creative exploration in architecture and site-specific art, realized through digital technology. Based on cosmology, Quantum Physics and information theory, instead of being perceived as a ‘ground zero’, space is evolving and heterogeneous as it comprises of multiple interacting layers of virtuality and reality. Contemporary site-specific art is marked by a growing interest in exploring emerging interstitial spaces including transitional and unsettling in-between spaces, the emergence of which, deeply challenges spatial and disciplinary boundaries. Such an investigation includes a creative exploration of the possible inter-relationships between various types of reality and the dynamic and unsettling points of intersection enabling various kinds of exchange between those realities. The emphasis is placed on the ways in which, potential interstitial spaces can be creatively revealed through various modes of innovative spatial intervention such as mixed realities, parallel sites, inter-spaces, infra-spaces.

LAP – Lambert Academic Publishing, 2012 (ISBN: 978-3-8383-7501-4) 

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Fri 14 September 2012

John Ruskin - Building Ruskin’s Italy: Watching Architecture

Stephen Kite

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Fri 14 September 2012

Diagramming Interstitiality

Dr Eugenia Fratzeskou’s latest essay "Diagramming Interstitiality" is featured under the theme ‘Diagram’ in Le Journal Spéciale’Z No. 4. The Journal is published by the Ecole Spéciale d’Architecture in Paris and distributed worldwide by the leading distributer Bruil & van de Staaij. The Journal is included in the ARCHIZINES world-touring exhibition.

The Journal explores architecture’s complex contemporary context. Each issue is structured around four thematic questions critical to current debate on the built environment, bringing together contributions by researchers and practitioners – artists, architects and urbanists. Le Journal mediates the wider cultural experiences that feed into the knowledge-culture of spatiality. Open calls for submissions ensure a dialogue between emerging and established voices with articles appearing in either English or French. Recent contributions include writing by Claude Parent, CJ Lim, Odile Decq and Andri Gerber; photographs by Matthieu Gafsou and Jing Quek; and projects by Palace, Angel Cubero and the Office for Subversive Architecture.

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Thu 8 November 2012