Call for Papers: The Architecture of the Universities. El Blanco no. 31
The journal En Blanco has just launched a Call for Papers for a special issue entitled ‘The Architecture of the Universities’ to be published in October 2021.
In 1968, L’Architecture d’Aujourd’hui dedicated its 137th issue specifically to the new European universities, and Emilio Tempia penned an editorial in which he asked why these universities were necessary, how many were needed, for whom they were intended, and where they should be located. In 1969, the Harvard Educational Review published its winter issue with the title ‘Architecture and Education’; the journal made space for a number of architects ‘to write on the reciprocal implications of architectural and educational concerns’. In 1970, Michael Brawne took charge of the April issue of Architectural Review, titled ‘The New Universities’, where it was shown that the British programme for higher education ‘had involved some of the most talented of architects and produced some of the most interesting buildings’ of the last decade. These three periodicals were joined by many other references that showcased international debates in the field of university pedagogy in architecture, campus planning and architecture for learning spaces in higher education.
More than 50 years later, the debate is still ongoing, but it has become diverse and complex. Not only have learning spaces been profoundly transformed, but also institutions now have their visibility at stake in a context of international competition. Universities are now subject to market rules that shape their policies, increasingly distant from the social commitment upon which they were founded. Brilliant scientific production, fruitful relations with industry, proven knowledge transfer to society, and an attractive range of degrees with the promise of high employability, are the factors that build a brand image that is increasingly displaced by an emerging online presence. Consequently, campuses and faculties have been transforming, recycling and renewing themselves, updating their agendas to include new challenges such as ecological transition, energy efficiency and digital transformation. Some new universities have made architecture their flagship, opting for highly visible buildings designed by renowned firms; others boast comfortable interiors that combine work and leisure. Some have even given up the idea of having a permanent base and are accommodated in changing spaces. However, regardless of their date of birth, universities are long-lived institutions, and perhaps for this reason, when it comes to the physical aspects of higher education spaces, the maxim ‘future resilience depends on present porosity of design’ still rings true (Harrison & Hutton, 2014).
This special issue of [En Blanco. Revista de Arquitectura] #31 invites papers that reflect on university architecture and urbanism, and examine the diversity of this subject from current, retrospective or comparative perspectives. In particular, unpublished contributions are invited which are the result of research work and which, by focusing on spatial design, bring innovation to the following questions:
- University architecture and its design processes
- The relationship between architecture and urban planning, and forms of knowledge transmission
- The prospects for the evolution of university architecture and urban planning.