Guest Editor: David Caralt
When the day gets dark, the city begins to gradually mutate and acquire new changing faces. If on one hand, the city presents itself (officially) as an almost spectacular installation, on the other, it offers possibilities to explore territories of liberation, strangeness and conflict. The urban nocturne configures a space-time of multiple and plural, ambiguous and mysterious personality.
The colonization of the night began in the mid-nineteenth century with the progressive implementation of lighting systems (considered by Reyner Banham as “the greatest environmental revolution in human history since the domestication of fire”). Public street lighting provided safety for people’s circulation and increased consumption time, while the city became a great shining showcase for the enjoyment of a wide social range. Nevertheless, vast urban areas remained submerged in darkness, allowing free rein to forbidden pleasures, to liberation, but also to danger and death.
But the urban night is not only limited to the possibilities offered by artificial lighting, it also expresses the unscheduled and unpredictable. It can manifest itself as a magnificent political theater, as an intensification of clandestine experiences or, as a fertile ground for new furtive and interactive urban practices of nocturnal activists.
Scarce in architectural discourses (in which we tend to think in diurnal terms), the night invites us to rethink the political, cultural and economic agendas of cities. By understanding its potential, we can weave urban narratives that consider temporary architectures, ephemeral monuments, new centralities and practices of nocturnal culture that recognize the relevance and complexity of the night as an exceptional platform for thinking about cities.
The urban nocturne is where two narratives intertwine: that of the “city of light” that presents the official narrative of well-lit avenues and monuments, public parties and festivals of light, together with an invisible or unofficial history of secret parties, spontaneous space occupation and multiple free manifestations, of night works, peripheral neighborhoods and interstitial areas built from infrastructures that create an equally powerful nocturnal landscape.
Materia Arquitectura 24 invites authors to explore the intersection between night, space and society with contributions that enrich the nocturnal knowledge of cities. The urban nocturne calls to reflect on the double topography of the night as a singular moment in which architecture and urban landscape can reveal themselves as spaces suitable for hosting forms of life characteristic of nocturnality.
Submission deadline: 17 April 2023.
The full call for papers can be found here.