ENERGY LANDSCAPES: Spatial Agencies of Energy Transition
Theme editors: Sascha Roesler, Silvia Balzan, Lorenzo Stieger
Deadline: October 20, 2023
While in the recent decades, the field of architecture has primarily focused on the self-sufficiency of individual buildings, the current ARDETH issue wishes to bring back scholarly attention to an approach that
prioritizes energy conservation and generation at the
urban scale. Such an approach relies on the idea of the productive (and not only consumptive) urban environment, in which the built fabric, topography, soil, bodies of water, green spaces, as well as regional climatic conditions (determined by sun, wind, rain flows, and
seasonal temperatures), serve as potential parameters for energy production.
Since the late 1960s, landscape architects such as Ian McHarg, Anne Whiston Spirn, and Michael Hough, and urban planners such as Ralph Knowles, Vladimir Matus, and Dean Hawkes were increasingly aware of the urban dimension of energy. Hough introduced the notion of “energy landscape,” pioneering “an ecological view that encompasses the total urban landscape” (Hough 1984). Today, Hough’s notion is of fundamental significance for rethinking the relationship of practices of space-making to energy on several scales, integrating novel technological systems and built structures with natural processes responses (Roesler 2022; Roesler, Kobi, Stieger 2022).
The ARDETH issue promotes the conceptual framework of “energy land- scapes” to question energy as cheap, abundant, and at the disposal of urban development. It critically examines concepts and methods for shaping future energy landscapes. Understanding energy transition as practice of spatial transformation, the issue looks for contributions that uncover the mutual dependency between energy and urbanization, analysing the possible influences of settlement structures on promoting renewable energy production. The contributions should thus conceive “energy futures” as intrinsically tied to a broader discussion on space-making futures and highlight “the spatial elements through which urban energy systems evolve […] and the spatial consequences of [energy] transition” (Ruther- ford & Coutard 2014). For example, how do different built fabric densities contribute to and limit the emergence of post-carbon energy landscapes? What are the implications of a British suburb, an Italian medieval town, or Greek informal settlements densities on the production, distribution, and use of post-carbon energy in those areas?
The editors particularly welcome scholarly papers and visual essays that promote a transversal view of energy landscapes, integrating the urban and architectural scales and the transition from energy consumption to production. The editors seek contributions that offer a transdisciplinary view of energy landscapes, considering actors (companies, institutions, people), technologies (carbon-based and renewable), flows (of resources, energy, money), scales (from buildings to the globe), and patterns of urbanization.
The issue departs from a regional focus on Europe in light of the recent geopolitical situation relating to the war in Ukraine, which has exacerbated Europe’s dependency on external energy sources, urging us to explore novel strategies of self-reliance that enhance and hasten the strategies discussed in the past. Nonetheless, contributions that present valuable insights from different regions will be taken into consideration in relation to the challenges that the European cases present.
Scholars of history and theory of architecture and urban design, social anthropology, urban studies, and science and technology studies are invited to present recent findings and novel methods at the intersection of archival and ethnographic approaches for studying energy landscapes in transition. Contributing to a contemporary environmental theory of architecture, papers might be centered around the following four thematic threads: energy hinterlands, spaces of cohabitation, net zero cities, and spatio-temporal frameworks.
More information can be found in the full call for papers here.