CfP: in_bo vol. 13, no. 7. Sacred Pedagogy: The Sacred in Architectural and Design Education

Call for Papers: in_bo vol. 13, no. 7. Sacred Pedagogy: The Sacred in Architectural and Design Education

Any design pedagogy implies the reconsideration of the relationship between the sacred and the religious. Today, spaces of rituals risk becoming themes of specialized design — as stadiums for example, where architecture cannot ignore the rules and the form of the games that take place in them. Also, divisive religious beliefs highlight the fragility and fragmentation of contemporary society. The expansion of the sacred beyond religions underscores the theme of architecture for spirituality, such as Eero Saarinen’s chapel at MIT (1955). Furthermore, the sacred was an element of unity even before the emergence of religions. It identifies a primordial and common psycho-perceptive substrate, as taught by Carl Gustav Jung, or a universal category of the intellect, as Rudolf Otto wrote.

As a critical theme in changing societies, the sacred is also an inevitable theme of Gestalt psychology. Thus the original question of this call may also admit its inversion: if the sacred is an anthropologically (and spatially) unavoidable theme, where and how do curricula in architectural education deal with it? Where and how do they teach how to manage it? What thematic pretexts and operating methods are adopted to approach it? And also, what relationship is there today between religious and anthropological sacredness? Which themes of architecture and design lie at their intersection?

Is it from architecture to the sacred or from the sacred to architecture? In other words, is architecture that shapes the sacred, or the sacred that generates architecture?There is a contemporary paradox that appears to emerge at the very center of these questions: if architecture and its teaching cannot in any way avoid the sacred, there seems to be some sort of embarrassment in facing it, almost as if it were an inconvenient subject to which only some assertion of principle or some commonplace can guarantee an escape.

Precisely because it seems to be one of the last of the taboos standing in design and architectural education, it is necessary to engage in this discussion.

This call for papers is open to architects, scholars, designers, pedagogues, anthropologists, philosophers, researchers, and intellectuals.

Contributions of particular interest are those that deepen the topics covered in this call along with these perspectives:

  • historical and historical-critical: studies and research on the historical development of the teaching of architecture and design
    and the theme of the sacred;
  • theoretical: regarding the triangulation between the sacred, pedagogies and architecture/design, through original contributions or critical and comparative studies of documented experiences about the premises for teaching activities, their cultural conditions and conditioning, and their anthropological meaning and role;
  • material-constructive: referring to the role that the design of sacred space plays in the experimentation and aesthetic appropriation of technological advances, new building materials and techniques especially over the last two centuries;
  • practical-operational, dealing with experiences conducted in teaching or design (both of new and existing artifacts) or in construction laboratories, design or prototyping of objects.

Authors are invited to send an abstract in Italian or English (3000– 4000 characters including spaces) via email to by 13 September 2021.  The abstracts must be drafted following the guidelines of the journal, which can be found on the website A short bio (max 350 characters including spaces) and the affiliations of the authors must be included in the same email in a separate .doc file. If the abstract is accepted, the final essay must be uploaded to the in_bo online platform at, in Italian or English and with an overall length between 20,000 and 50,000 characters including spaces. The essays will undergo a double-blind peer-review process.

More information about the issue and submission process can be found here.

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