AZA 2012 - Cape Town, Architecture Biennial : 13 - 17 September 2012

Evaluating the role of architectural practice.

As a profession, architecture is relatively young. It had an easy birth into a structured system of gentility and patronage where the demands on it were simple: to make beautiful objects imbued with commonly held, albeit elitist, cultural capital. The growth of society under capitalism has added complexity to the discipline, demanding functional and spatial efficiency - along with the belief that architecture can also solve social problems.

Globalisation 2.0, with its market-research-based development, has started to turn the architectural practitioners as director into the directed: branding, lifestyle-research and "greenwash" delineate the architectural practitioners colour-by-numbers palette while "starchitects" cleverly construct themselves as a reliable brand producing "signature buildings".

At the other end "barefoot architects" disavow the culture of architecture in the rush to build shelter for the global poor. What about the "average" architectural practitioners caught in the middle?

This conference seeks to examine these multiple lines of practice and the ways in which architecture can be "re-scripted" into new incarnations - whilst being critical of its all-too-easy inscription of race, gender and resource inequity into space. Abstracts of no more than 500 words are requested that deal with any of the following issues:

o What are the "scripts" that architecture (and architectural practitioners) have been following and what are the limits or opportunities (improvisations) arising from these sets of tacit "instructions" to the discipline?

o What are the current forms of practice - particularly in post-apartheid South Africa - and what skills, strategies and innovations are architectural practitioners employing to deal with architecture's ongoing mutation?

o What are the emerging forms of practice (formal / spatial / material / process) that are re-scripting the discipline of architecture from "within" both locally and internationally?

o What are the forces (economic, social, cultural) that are re-scripting architecture from "without" - from the margins of practice and beyond the boundaries of the discipline?

o What are the skills and practices that allow (or prevent) architectural practitioners from operating within or across disciplinary boundaries and how might these be better realised?

o How are architectural practitioners collaborating (or not) with other cultural practitioners to achieve an enriched and enriching cultural or social world?

o What are the non-architectural (non-building-centred) activities that architectural practitioners engage with to diversify income streams as well as leverage architectural commissions?
o How are architectural practitioners leveraging the building project / commission as a means to also engage with increasingly marginalised people or conditions (social activism, cultural activism, etc)?
o What are the intellectual projects that seek to revisit architecture's confident scriptings, and what are the possibilities contained therein for re-narration?

While the intention of the conference is to explore theoretical issues relating to practice and the discipline of architecture, we welcome architectural practitioners (and practitioners in related fields) whose work engages with the ideas listed above to share their experiences through a critical reflection on their work.

All abstracts submitted must have a provisional heading, the name and institution of the presenter(s) and an email address for correspondence. Presenters of key papers at the conference will be invited to submit 5000 word (max) papers for peer-review and publication in a special edition of Architecture SA.

Professor P Raman (Cape Peninsula University of Technology)
Associate Professor Nic Coetzer (University of Cape Town)
Associate Professor Randall Bird (University of the Witwatersrand)
Dr Noëleen Murray (University of the Western Cape)
Bettina Malcomess (Writer and Artist)

1st May 2012: Abstracts should be emailed to (subject line 're-scripting architecture')
1st June 2012: Notice of selected papers to be made
13th-17th Sept 2012: Conference presentations in Cape Town
1st November 2012: Deadline for submitting papers for peer-review
14th January 2013: Final papers due
March 2013: Proposed publication date