CfP: Entanglements of Architecture and Comfort beyond the Temperate Zone. ABE Journal

Call for Papers: Entanglements of Architecture and Comfort beyond the Temperate Zone. ABE Journal

Guest-edited by Jiat-Hwee Chang, National University of Singapore (Singapore) and Daniel Ryan, University of Sydney (Australia)
The dominant discourse on comfort in architecture today is one that is seen as both universal—with slight variations across different geographies, climates, cultures, and societies—and ahistorical—timeless in that comfort is premised on supposedly immutable human biological responses to the environment. The universalist claims—in both space and time, across geographies and histories—of the discourse on comfort are typical of any technoscientific constructions in which technological and scientific developments are deeply intertwined and mutually constitutive. However, as Bruno Latour and Donna Haraway, among other Science Technology Studies scholars, have pointed out, technoscientific knowledge is situated knowledge. In the case of comfort, the recent discourse was primarily produced by researchers based in or originating from Europe and North America, and was wittingly or unwittingly shaped by their temperate norms and assumptions. Taught in architectural curricula and codified into building standards, the Euro-American-centric discourse on comfort was widely disseminated in the building industry and translated into urban and architectural culture with implications on interior furnishing, space planning, building services, facades and envelopes, urban design and planning, and even settlement patterns globally. Today, dominant narratives on comfort underpin the ubiquitous adoption of energy-profligate air-conditioning as a typical means of comfort provision, which is in turn widely regarded as one of the main factors contributing to the current planetary climate crisis.
It is time that we construct counter- and alternative-histories to interrogate this dominant and hugely-influential discourse on comfort. For this guest-edited section of ABE Journal would like to go beyond the Euro-American temperate zone to understand how comfort has been historically constructed in other geo-climatic zones and socio-cultural contexts around the world. To be sure, the boundaries and limits of this Euro-American temperate zone are themselves sociotechnical constructions contingent upon specific historical circumstances. While the editors welcome contributions that problematize this geographical delimitation, the journal would like to use it as a prerequisite in this guest-edited section of ABE journal as a means to seek and uncover other histories of comfort that existed before and/or in parallel to the dominant discourse that emerged in the mid-twentieth century. Indeed, comfort has a much longer material cultural history, as John E. Crowley, among others, has compellingly argued. The editors are interested in other socio-cultural or technoscientific constructions of comfort from the mid-twentieth century on, and before, that have been marginalised by the dominant discourse. How do these other histories of comfort challenge the Euro-American dominant discourse, its underlying assumptions, its means of comfort provision, and its built environmental implications?
The journal welcomes submissions that engage with these and other questions (see the full call for papers here) on architecture and comfort beyond the temperate world. In this guest-edited section of ABE Journal, we will be using architecture as a shorthand for the material culture of enclosure and surrounding across different scales—from clothing to furniture, from interior design to individual buildings, and from clusters of buildings to whole cities.
Submission deadline: 31 October 2019.
Please send your submissions to
For submission guidelines see

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