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«IOA 11t h AHRA international conference newcastle university school of architecture planning and landscape KEYNOTES adrian forty (UK) - peggy deamer ...»

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industries of architecture



11t h

AHRA international conference

newcastle university

school of architecture planning and landscape


adrian forty (UK) - peggy deamer (USA) - aggregate (USA)

GAIL DAY (uk) - sergio ferro (france/brazil)


BIM goes the architect - working with regulation

retrofit in practice - on site - risk and reflexivity new glass performances 13-15 november 2014


All too often architectural theorists, historians and designers side-line the industrial, technical and socio-economic contexts in which building is constituted or maintain that these are not the proper concerns of architecture, even when acknowledging the limits and possibilities set for architecture’s production in advanced capitalism. As a result, the developments with the greatest impact on the design and production of architecture are left to technical, economic and practice management discourses of building.

Although the architectural humanities has recently shown interest in new technologies of digital fabrication (often celebrating the apparently closer relationship of the design process to realisation these developments bring) or in questions around life cycle analysis, embodied energy and ecologies of design, there are scores of other developments less noticeable but no less significant that should also demand our attention.

How are new technologies and techniques from BIM to robots and smart materials changing the production of buildings and the roles and environments of architects, constructors and users? How are ‘immaterial’ forces such as law and regulation materialised in building and with what effects? How and in what ways does risk management or the requirement for comfort or the performance imperative transform materials, practices and the possibilities of design? If we are to understand the transformations in architectural culture that emerge from these developments or to effectively critique or intervene in them then surely we need to engage with these contexts and with the questions that ensue, and to engage as much with practitioners, professionals and producers within the industry as with those attempting to operate outside it.

In addition to the usual conference papers Industries of Architecture will also host a number of open-structured debate-oriented workshops with the aim of bringing into the discussion those working in building, technology, law, practice management, construction or in industry together with researchers in the architectural humanities. These are likely to consist of an introduction by the convenor/s, and short presentations/film showings/etc. of around 5 minutes followed by a couple of hours of discussion over refreshments, but other formats such as visits to construction sites and manufacturing plants are also planned. Summaries of these sessions will be an important part of the closing session, as will overviews of the conference strands.

The opening night will include the screening of a series of artists’ films that explore the production of architecture, with special focus on the work of Berlin-based film maker Harun Farocki and on Allan Sekula’s documentaries, and discussion with some of our contributors. Parallel sessions and workshops will be held in and around the School of Architecture. Screenings and the conference dinner will be held in some of Newcastle’s key industrial buildings such as The Stephenson Works (where Stephenson’s ‘Rocket’ was built).

call for papers We invite 20 minute papers addressing the questions raised in the synopsis from architectural historians, theorists, designers and professionals, workers and producers involved in the ‘industry of architecture’ as well as those working on these issues from other disciplines including film-making, art practice and performance. We welcome contributions that explore these contemporary developments and also those that ask what theoretical and critical approaches may be appropriate for their interrogation.

Might the architectural humanities extend approaches already found in construction history, economic history, labour history, critical geography or in science and technology studies to explore these issues without losing sight of questions of design, aesthetics and affect? What other discourses such as process philosophies, relational ontologies or new materialism offer potentials for understanding these constellations of humans and nonhumans, structures and operations? What politics can be brought to, and are already found, in the industries of architecture? To what extent do discourses of gender and difference challenge the ways we might think about work on site and in the office? Are critical strategies of design always already informed by industry and must this be a problem? Can critical practice operate within the conditions of production rather than find a space in which to operate outside them?

Industries of Architecture recognises that there has been work in research and practice where concerns with the production of architecture were central, whether the enquiries of Sigfried Giedion or Reyner Banham into the entanglements of industrial developments and modern architecture, or the workerist-informed theory of the Venice School, the investigations of the Bartlett International Summer School into the production of the built environment, or in Brazil, Arquitectura Nova’s work at theorising and altering the role of architectural design in the organisation of labour on the building site. As well as new approaches to present conditions, and in order to support the same, we encourage re-evaluations of this earlier work or historical studies of, for example, labour on and off site (and in the office), relations of material and immaterial labour, management and organisation, products and materials manufacture, spaces of production or the impact of new regulatory or contractual regimes, and architects’ engagement with these issues. What other histories are to be written, particularly those that might acknowledge the very local and differentiated systems and structures of production in former socialist states for example, or in cultures with very different contexts to the US and Europe? What methodologies can we make use of to capture these often invisible and unrecorded histories?

What are the implications for contemporary practice?

Deadline for call for papers: 1 May 2014. Please send a 500 word abstract, including title, and 50 word biog to IOA@ncl.ac.uk. We aim to notify you by 1 July 2014. Please note that full papers will be required prior to the conference for panel chairs and to begin the editorial process for publication in the Industries of Architecture volume in the Routledge Critiques series, and a special conference issue of Architecture and Culture.


BIM Goes the ArchitectJohn Gelder (NBS/RIBA Enterprises)

As built-environment information modelling (BIM) matures, both technologically and culturally, traditional professional and other roles will be increasingly challenged, particularly those built around computation such as the various engineering disciplines.

On the other hand, some architects see BIM as an opportunity for their profession to reclaim the central position it once enjoyed in traditional procurement. Is this likely, possible, or even desirable? Or is the profession of architecture as currently practised more likely to be replaced by one or more new design professions, in the same way that the design role of the medieval master builder was replaced by the dilettante architect during the information technology (IT) revolution of the Renaissance?

Contact: john.gelder@ribaenterprises.com Working with Regulation: Creative engagements between architects and regulation Rob Imrie (Sociology, Goldsmiths, University of London) and Emma Street (Real Estate & Planning, University of Reading) It is a commonly held view that the regulations and rule that govern design practice, such as planning and building regulations, are external impositions that will reduce the scope of architects’ creativity. In contrast, the objective of the workshop will be to evaluate how far regulations and rules governing design can facilitate an opening up of practice in ways whereby opportunities for creative engagement may be enhanced.

We wish to explore architects’ complex, and sometimes surprising, relationships with regulatory requirements, and shows how, in practice, regulation may broaden the scope of what architects can achieve.

Contact: e.j.street@reading.ac.uk Retrofit in Practice: What next?

Sofie Pelsmakers (Doctoral Candidate, UCL Energy Institute and co-founder of Architecture for Change) To meet the UK government’s ambitious carbon reduction standards, existing buildings will need to be upgraded to meet high fabric efficiency standards. But what are the challenges faced? Which policies exist to encourage this large scale retrofit – and what are the barriers? How much do we currently know about how well these buildings perform and what standards will they need to meet? What could some of the unintended consequences be of fabric upgrade? Will planning support or hinder interventions? Is there a role for architects in the upgrade of existing structures? And, why not simply demolish and start anew?

–  –  –

On Site: Observations and conversations on the design and production of the built environment Linda Clarke and Chris Wall (ProBE, University of Westminster) and Nick Beech (Oxford Brookes University) This workshop engages with the question of what role and contribution construction labour and the labour process play in determining the design and realisation of architecture. Through a site visit to a major construction project in the Newcastleupon-Tyne region [tbc], delegates will have an opportunity to observe processes of production and talk to those responsible. The workshop will then discuss and evaluate this experience and explore how far the current social and contractual relationships between construction workers, managers, and professionals can accommodate to different designs, methods, technologies and organisation of production.

Contact: nbeech@brookes.ac.uk Risk and Reflexivity: Architecture and the industries of risk-distribution Liam Ross (University of Edinburgh) and Adam Sharr (Newcastle University) This workshop invites participants from a range of construction industry fields – not just architects but also developers, insurers, lawyers, consultants, contractors and facilities managers – to discuss how the question of risk surfaces within and between their fields: where does it come from, how is it represented, where is it transferred to, and what residual risks remain? Between these short presentations, round-table discussions will consider the ‘reflexive’ effects created by the commodity of risk in building: what risks do buildings mitigate, and what risks do they construct? How are the risks and rewards of building distributed? How is a culture of risk-awareness re-shaping disciplinary roles and responsibilities? How is the built environment reshaping us as occupants, habituating us to, or protecting us from, risk?

Contact: liam.ross@ed.ac.uk New glass performances and materials designed for purpose Katie Lloyd Thomas (Newcastle University) Performance-engineered materials represent an enormous shift from traditional found materials to those designed for specific purpose. In addition their mobilisation requires new regimes of testing, quantification and specification, bringing about new contractual possibilities and an altered understanding of materials in terms of their behaviours. Building on the North East’s tradition of glass production, this workshop invites glass manufacturers, specifiers, architects and engineers to discuss the implications and potentials of these developments.

Contact: katie.lloyd-thomas@ncl.ac.uk information


Industries of Architecture is the second collaboration between Katie Lloyd Thomas (Newcastle University), Nick Beech (Oxford Brookes University) and Tilo Amhoff (University of Brighton) who in February 2011 co-organised the Further Reading Required symposium at the Bartlett – a ground-breaking interdisciplinary investigation of construction documents, published as a special issue of Architectural Research Quarterly 16/3 (2013). For Industries of Architecture they are joined by Adam Sharr (Newcastle University).

Advisory Team:

Robert Carvais (France), Jonathan Charley (UK), Jonathan Hale (UK/AHRA), Merlijn Hurx (Holland), Silke Kapp (Brazil), Mary McLeod (USA), Antoine Picon (USA/France) Julieanna Preston (New Zealand), Andrew Rabeneck (UK), Peg Rawes (UK/AHRA), Lukasz Stanek (UK), Paolo Tombesi (Australia), Sarah Wigglesworth (UK).


Workshops will take place on the afternoon of Friday 14 November with the closing review of workshops on Saturday afternoon. There is a special ‘workshop rate’ that covers this second half of the conference for those who are keen to be involved with this part of Industries of Architecture but can’t attend the full conference. If you are interested in contributing to one of these workshops please do contact the session organiser/s directly.


(conference dinner not included – we are hoping to find sponsorship to make this available to all) Full conference: early bird £220 / standard £260 Workshop rate (Friday workshops and full Saturday): early bird £130 / standard £155 Student early bird £60 / standard £80 (no publications included) (NB: these prices include a copy of the AHRA conference series Critiques and an issue of the AHRA journal Architecture and Culture. We hope to reduce prices depending on the levels of sponsorship we raise.)

Indicative timetable:

–  –  –

Aggregate (eds.). Governing by Design: Architecture, Economy, and Politics in the 20th Century, Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2012.

Arantes, Pedro. “Reinventing the Building Site”, in Andreoli, Elisabetta and Adrian Forty (eds.), Brazil’s Modern Architecture, London: Phaidon Press, 2007.

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