Call for Paper: Footprint 28: All is in Formation: Architecture, Cybernetics, Ecology

While there have been significant discussions on the relevance of cybernetics within architectural and urban studies, focus was mainly placed on computing and digital practices. The influence of cybernetics towards formulating an alternative ecological – i.e. relational – account has been mostly neglected. However, the Anthropocene, both as a discourse and a material condition, has brought to light the need to rethink environmental histories and environmentalism in architecture beyond reductive binary logics. The once separate categories of culture and environment now give way to an ecological approach where they appear as co-constructed, providing a broader transdisciplinary circuit to explore the logics of living systems in ways that are not restricted to anthropocentrism.

Since its emergence in the post-war period, cybernetics — in both its first and second-order versions — introduced to architectural discourse systematic design methods and practices, as well as tackling issues of reflexivity and complex problems. Footprint 28 seeks to reposition cybernetics neither as an outdated way of thinking nor as computational practice, but as a discourse that continues to offer possibilities for architectural and urban design interventions. In the issue we wish to explore the encounters between architecture and cybernetics in an attempt to rethink the notion of the built environment.

To this end, Footprint 28 will approach cybernetics as the study of information, an account that has little to do with machines and digital logics. Instead, it will consider processes of cybernetisation as a generalised ecology concerned with life and the production, exchange and consumption of meaning. Therefore, cybernetisation can lay the foundations for an ecological account that examines how signs are communicated and how meaning is produced and experienced within ecological systems. This third-order cybernetics extends beyond the original scope of living organisms and their environments to ecologies of ideas, power, institutions, media, and so on. In this sense, cybernetisation is radically environmental, positing the primacy of relations over fixed terms, binary oppositions and linear logics, making it high time for architectural and urban studies to take into consideration its groundbreaking potentials.

Footprint 28 will ask who the architects and institutions are that form this extended circuit, both in its early history and currently, and will interrogate the ways in which they attempt to reconceptualise the built environment. The issue will focus on the core concepts that emerge from the interaction between architecture and cybernetics, especially in the context of generalised ecology: What is their effect on design methods and practices? Does their theoretical influence surpass their practical application? How are design education and pedagogy shaped by cybernetics? How are concepts and methods that emerge from these discourses used to deal with complex contemporary environmental problems?

With these objectives in mind, Footprint 28 welcomes contributions of full scientific articles that trace the diverse genealogies and theories of architectural and cybernetic entanglements, specifically their ecological and relational premises, effects and transformative potentials, as well as their contribution to contemporary design pedagogies, practices and experimentations. In addition, we gladly accept graphic, visual and/or textual analyses of projects – ranging from buildings to artificial neural networks – that focus on environmental themes from an architectural and urban perspective. Finally, the editors invite contributions in the form of review articles that critically assess key literature related to this discussion.

Authors of full articles (6000-8000 words) are requested to submit their contributions to the editors before 1 May 2020. Full articles will go through a double-blind peer-review process. Review articles (2000–4000 words) and visual essays (2000 words, 2 – 5 images) will be selected by the editors on the basis of a short summary (maximum 500 words) to be submitted before 1 May, 2020. All authors should include a short bio (100 words) with their submissions.

Authors should refer to Footprint Author Guidelines, available at: https://journals.open.tudelft.nl/index.php/footprint/about/submissions

Authors are responsible for securing permission to use images and copyrighted materials.

For submissions and all other inquiries and correspondence, please contact editors Stavros Kousoulas and Dulmini Perera at editors.footprint@gmail.com.

Footprint 28 will be published in Spring 2021.

The Call for Papers is also available here.

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