Building Technology and Culture in the Asia-Pacific Region: Histories and Projects


University of Nottingham Ningbo China and The Chinese University of Hong Kong

To discuss the impact of the social and cultural dimensions on building technology in contemporary architectural practice and the history of architecture, this Symposium attempts to reconcile technical exploration and social dimension in spatial imagination, recognizing that “technology is culture”, and “constructive choices” are always “historically determined” (Picon, 2012, p. 24). Accordingly, as construction history responds to two main concerns, one “doctrinal” and one “professional” (Picon, 2012, p. 14), this Symposium develops along two lines of inquiry. It interrogates the history of building technology and its relation to the history of technology and cultural history (Theme 1); It looks at the current architectural practice questioning how dominant social forces and conventions define and direct technological and material choices in design (Theme 2).

The Symposium, therefore, aims at bringing together and establishing bridges between practitioners and historians. While it acknowledges construction history as a discipline focusing on “how” projects are built (Huerta Fernández, 2011), organizers are interested in a broader perspective on the relationship between culture and technology. Organizers invite contributions discussing these questions and focusing on the Asia-Pacific region since the 1970s, and we encourage to look not only at high-tech, industrialised solutions (steel, reinforced concrete, glass, etc.), but also at how low-tech materials and techniques (bamboo, mud, compressed earth, etc.) participate in the contemporary discourse about architecture, technology, and society. For proposals fitting into Theme 1, organizers invite papers that either investigate specific case studies based on original sources, or attempt to historicise and discuss lesser-known cases and trends and how they can contribute to a critique of mainstream, Euro-centric historiographic narratives. For Theme 2, organizers expect proposals that investigate recently built projects, especially if analysed from the perspective of their designers.

To submit your proposal, please send a 500-word abstract to To submit your proposal, please send a 500-word abstract to by 31 March 2022 along with a short CV of all the authors (no more than three), specifying if the paper fits into the Theme 1 (Histories) or 2 (Projects). Notification of acceptance will be sent by email to the authors and a final draft of the paper, 4,000 words maximum in length (references included), will be sent to the panel chair no later than 17th June 2022 for comments.

More information about the conference and call can be found here.

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