[URBANTH-L]CFP: Urban Artefacts: Types, Practices, Circulations
jancius at ohio.edu
Mon Jan 15 19:01:15 EST 2007
From: Michael Guggenheim migug at bluewin.ch
Call for an interdisciplinary Seminar at the Institute of Geography,
University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland 14-15 June 2007
Urban Artefacts: Types, Practices, Circulations
Anthony D. King (Prof. Em. State University of New York, Binghampton) Linda
Schneekloth (Prof., School of Architecture and Planning, University of
The workshop convenes a small group of 20-30 scholars and around 10 papers
concentrating on one or several of the themes below from all relevant
disciplines such as anthropology, architectural history and theory,
geography, history, science studies and sociology. Costs for travels and
accommodation may be covered by the organizers depending on replies from
funding agencies. Abstracts (2'500 signs max.) are to be sent to
Secretariat.Geographie at unine.ch until March the 1st 2007.
For further information on the seminar, contact:
Michael Guggenheim: migug at bluewin.ch
Ola Söderström: ola.soderstrom at unine.ch
Globalization not only changes the values of people around the world, it
also changes the very face of the cities we live in. Cities are composed of
a tremendous amounts of what we call spatial artefacts, i.e. houses, but
also furniture of public spaces, traffic infrastructure, gardens and parks.
These spatial artefacts vary in form and function from place to place, they
come in local, national and regional variants. These local variations are
due to different architectural traditions but even more so, different local
practices. People have to play baseball, before a baseball-stadium is
invented and finally built. In architectural theory, such templates are
known as building types, which we broaden for the purpose of the seminar, to
spatial artefact-types. When such types travel and are inserted into other
spatial contexts, they come (partially at least) with these practices
In a new environment the introduction of new spatial artefacts can lead to a
vast array of changes. First of all, the new artefact often does not come in
its full form, rather it is often built from previous and existing
structures, through change of use of buildings or through the ad-hoc
assemblage of other existing structures. Because practices travel faster
than built structures. Think for instance of mosques created in office
buildings in the core of Swiss cities.
Second the introduction of new spatial artefacts happens not through an
introduction of a pure type in a new context, rather, the type itself is
likely to adapt to its new context and even to lead to new types. As it is
the case with the Chinese villa, which is a "creole" version of the Italian
Third, the new type is likely to introduce irritation in its new contexts.
Local actors may object to "foreign" spatial artefacts, as shown by European
protests against skyscrapers considered as American building types.
To interpret these first observations a wide range of theoretical problems
and disciplinary views is at stake. The discussion may centre around the
concept of type. When and under which circumstances are practices condensed
in a type so that they are recognized by architectural theorists but also by
a lay public? How and under which circumstances do national and regional
architectural practitioners take up foreign types? Are there observable
patterns when foreign types become controversial in discourses of
architects, planners and preservationists?
Second, one may analyse the relationship between spatial artefacts and
practices, both at the level of "production" and "consumption". In other
words, who/which are the human and non-human actors allowing these
circulations: designers, architects, architecture and design magazines,
transnational businessmen, tourists, movies? How are practices inscribed in
these artefacts, and how can we account for this inscription? Finally, how
is the "immigration" of these artefacts regulated, by zoning and building
Third, the travelling itineraries of spatial artefacts may be of interest in
themselves. Are there established geographical and social routes of spatial
artefacts? Are there observable patterns where new artefacts are inserted in
cities and by whom? Can we identify backbones and "black holes" in these
networks? Under what processes are these routes reconfigured?
The purpose of this seminar is to exchange ideas, results and methodologies,
and notably to create an encounter between scholars interested in STS
perspectives on the built environment (notably Actor Network Theory or
Social Shaping of Technologies approaches ) and others using different
tool-boxes (stemming from spatial anthropology, cultural geography,
architectural history or urban sociology).
The conference is also the first event of the European Network
"Socio-Technical Studies of Architecture and Urbanism".
More information about the URBANTH-L