Using What We Have: Architectural Histories of Fragments, Ruins, Rationed Resources and Obsolete Spaces

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SAHGB’s Annual Architectural History Symposium for PhD Scholars and Early Career Researchers

The climate emergency has recentred the focus of responsible twenty-first century design theory and practice to support the delivery of sustainable development. Reuse of obsolete spaces, material choices based on life cycle, performance and total carbon footprint and participatory site development are at the centre of award-winning architectural practices. However remarkable and laudable their work may be, the tradition of reuse and designing for austerity or scarcity has ancient and enduring roots across cultures around the world.

This symposium seeks to raise awareness of traditions of vernacular adaptation and reuse, including cultural responses to ruins, layering of settlements, repurposed architectural fragments, temporary habitations and obsolete building typologies. Architectural history research that explores these traditions can inform sustainable design and use strategies for the built environment today.

Organised into two sessions, the symposium convenors are seeking presentations on architectural histories that address the themes for historic traditions or current theoretical and practical examples informed by architectural history research. There will be a concluding round table session where examples from the past can be considered in context with current theoretical and practical design solutions.

Presentations in the first session will reveal histories of vernacular reuse, including exploration of contributions to architecture ‘after the architect’, cultural traditions of temporal, flexible or moveable structures, re-use of architectural styles, habitations designed and constructed during times of conflict or crisis and traditions of reuse for obsolete or uninhabited spaces, including ruins, relics from cultural displacement and resettlement and technological redundancy.

Presentations in the second session will highlight current practical or theoretical approaches to the reuse of fragments and redundant places. Whether reflecting on the transformation of twentieth century adaptive re-use theory, challenging the validity of ‘authenticity’ for post-conflict reconstruction, or highlighting examples of innovative sustainable reuse, the papers in this session will demonstrate projects grounded in architectural history research and understanding of the processes of creation, obsolescence and regeneration.

The deadline for submission is 5:00 pm, GMT, Friday, 18 February 2022.

More information can be found here.

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