About The Human in Architecture and Philosophy Conference
Human beings normally live in buildings – structures built specifically for this function. This raises interesting questions. Why do we build dwellings (such as the ones we do)? And for whom do architects build houses? These questions view the same phenomenon from two different perspectives: architecture can tell us something about the human condition (in general or in a particular culture) and we can derive insights about architecture from our understanding of human beings.
This topic is inspired by two observations and two related questions:
1) Many architects, contemporary and historical, claim to focus on the needs of human beings. The resulting architecture, however, often does not meet the needs and desires of the people who live there. For whom should architecture actually build?
2) Architecture, traditionally, has played a negligible role in our philosophical understanding of human beings (as also for our sociological, psychological, and other anthropological analyses). Although it has always been generally acknowledged that human beings need built dwelling places, more careful analysis of this need is surely necessary. What does it say about human beings that they depend upon the buildings they construct for their own habitation?
We aim to attract architects and philosophers. It is envisaged that architecture be approached through the means, methods, and models of analytical (Western) philosophy with a particular focus on (philosophical) anthropology. Scholars from across the humanities and social sciences (including, but not limited to, sociology, psychology, anthropology, civil engineering, theology, art history, and design) who are interested in the topic are also welcome.
Possible topics which papers might address:
I. Implicit and explicit architectural anthropologies:
- What are the implicit or explicit assumptions about the human being inherent in buildings or architectural styles? (eg: van Eyck’s Orphanage, Koolhaas CCTV-Tower, Zumthors thermal bath, etc.)
- Comparison of the architectural anthropology of different buildings, styles, and cultures
- What are, or were, the range of expectations (needs and desires) of human beings with regard to architecture: synchronically through history and diachronically in different cultural settings?
- Can philosophy assist in the development of a better architectural anthropology?
- Would architects build differently if they changed their assumptions about what humans are?
- The effect of digital architecture on implicit anthropology.
II. Cultural differences and their anthropological relevance:
- The architectural anthropology of cultures without dwellings (such as nomadic societies)
- Architectural anthropology in art, literature, and film (for example, the architecture of different species in The Lord of the Rings)
III. Classic texts revisited:
- What assumptions about the human being can be found in the classic texts on architecture (for example Alberti, Semper, Koolhaas, etc.)?
- What have philosophers of anthropology written about architecture?
- Building and planning regulations and their implicit assumptions about humans.
IV. Architecture as a source of philosophical knowledge of human beings:
- Do architects know anything about human beings which philosophy should take more seriously?
- Can philosophy find new insights into the human condition through buildings (both internationally notable and otherwise)?
- What does the fact that human beings have to live with and within architecture mean for them?
- Can building be regarded as a primary activity of human beings?
- Evolutionary perspectives on architecture and its interdependence on human beings.
V. Ideology and architecture:
- Politics and architecture (e.g. the MoMa exhibition ‘small scale – big change’ presented ‘New Architectures of Social Engagement’. What about ‘human scale – big change?’) (e.g. implicit racism or discrimination in architecture).
- Architecture creating new types of human being (e.g. Bauhaus and the ‘new human being’ (der neue Mensch)).
- Would architects build differently if they changed their assumptions about the human being?
The 2016 conference of the International Society for the Philosophy of Architecture invites papers which probe these questions, re-draw the assumptions behind them or ask new ones. It welcomes architects and philosophers willing to scrutinize extant (inter)disciplinary boundaries and consensus on these questions and issues. The conference celebrates attempts to operate at the intersection of both disciplines, and promotes work ready to give philosophical anthropology and concrete architect(ure)s serious consideration alike.
Authors are invited to submit a 250-300 word abstract by Monday February 1, 2016. Please submit your abstract to firstname.lastname@example.org. The abstract should be prepared for blind review and formatted as a RTF file. Please also provide a short CV. Submissions should be in English, and presentations will be held in English.
Date and Location
• 9am Wednesday 20 July to 9pm Friday 22 July + day trip on Saturday 23 July
• City of Bamberg, Bavaria, Germany is a world-heritage site located near to Nuremberg and home to theUniversity of Bamberg and the Villa Concordia Künstlerhaus.
Monday 1 February: deadline for abstracts
Thursday 31 March: notice of acceptance
May: circulation of program
Professor Christian Illies
Philosopher, University of Bamberg
Dr. Martin Düchs
Architect and Philosopher, University of Bamberg