Call for Papers: Utopia Computer: The “New” in Architecture? Berlin, 15-16 November 2019

6th Forum Architekturwissenschaft, Berlin University of the Arts

The critical concern of the workshop “Utopia Computer” is the euphoria, expectation and hope inspired by the introduction of computers within architecture in the early digital age. With the advent of the personal computer and the launch of the Internet in the 1990s, utopian ideals found in architectural discourse from the 1960s were revisited and adjusted to the specific characteristics of digital media.
Buckminster Fuller’s World Game, Gordon Pask’s belief in an architecture that can learn via feedback loops, and Frei Otto’s form-finding experiments bore witness to concepts of participatory planning procedures, self-optimising design processes and non-standard architectural structures. These ideas gathered momentum in the 1990s: Planning and negotiating architecture was reconceived as gameplay, initiating the exploration of virtual game interfaces as potential sites for generating collective and interactive urban solutions. Algorithm-based computer software and parametric design fostered the idea of a self-organising architecture that emerges from the interplay of parameters able to offer “optimised” answers to internal and external constraints. And the 1990s buzzword liquid architecture captured the concept of an architecture capable of adapting flexibly to changing parameters.
At the same time, technological developments at the turn of the millennium were part of neoliberal shifts in politics and the economy. Scenarios of all-encompassing surveillance and the commercial use of private data, as well as social injustices resulting from free-market economic practices thus provoke the question, have dystopian narratives replaced utopian ones? Taking the 1990s discourse as a starting point, the workshop will centre critical and historical reflections on the significance of ideas about interconnectedness in the post-war period and its participatory effects, about self-organisation and its potential for optimisation, and about non-standard architecture and its capacity to adapt itself to its environment, asking, in what ways have these utopian ideas changed in today’s digital culture?

The full description of the themes the workshop seeks to explore is available here.

The organizers welcome contributions from an architectural perspective as well as from other disciplines. Please submit your proposal of max. 400 words along with a brief CV by 1 May 2019 toforum2019@architekturwissenschaft.net.

Authors of accepted proposals will be notified in June. The conference will be held in English. The contributions will be published (open access and print on-demand) in the series of the Forum Architekturwissenschaft.

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