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Encounters at the Intersection of Architecture and Social & Human Sciences: Emergence and Displacements

Rencontres à la croisée de l’architecture et des sciences humaines : émergences et déplacements

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Published on Friday, December 13, 2013


The international conference “Encounters at the Intersection of Architecture and Social & Human Sciences: Emergence and Displacements” is an initiative of sASHa (laboratoire ‘Architecture et Sciences Humaines’, Faculté d’Architecture, Université Libre de Bruxelles), in collaboration with Université Saint-Louis Bruxelles and Faculté d’Architecture de l’Université de Liège. This conference aims at continuing and amplifying sASHa’s constant reflections on the nature of various exchanges between architecture and SHS, and on the conditions of their realization. The conference aims more particularly at exploring and questioning methodological, theoretical and political innovations that could emerge from these encounters.



This call for papers is addressed to all practitioners/teachers/researchers whose work situates itself in one way or another at the intersection of Architecture and the broad category of Social and Human Sciences, including anthropology, archaeology, ethics, linguistics, literary studies, philosophy, psychology, political science, sociology, cultural, gender, postcolonial studies, etc.

The general aim of the conference is as much to describe previous encounters at the intersection of architecture and SHS as to speculate on possible encounters to come.

Exploring the diverse forms of encounters

Encounters between architecture and SHS take various forms. Some involve collaboration between well-defined fields, as for example when town-planners and sociologists worked together on developing French suburbs in the post-war period. Other encounters can limit themselves to a borrowing or a re-appropriation of methods, concepts, or topics. Architects often (and sometimes abusively) borrow concepts from philosophy – as for instance with the notion of ‘public space’, whereas in return philosophy built the concept of postmodernity largely based on architectural theory. Some encounters take the more modest form of an inspiration, as for example when architects refer to linguistics to describe and justify their design. Encounters can also imply a direct application, like when architectural practices apply theories of ‘lean management’ to their production. Encounters could even go as far as an actual hybridization of the fields involved, with a third object as a result. Of course the idea is not to limit the conference to the forms drafted here above, but well to put these and other differences to work.

Beyond their various forms, encounters also vary because they occur in different places and in different milieus. They can occur in the academia, as in the case of the famous correspondence between Eisenman and Derrida; in pedagogy, as when studios in architecture schools borrow methods of field inquiry from anthropology or sociology; in professional practice, as when teams of architects and psychologists work together on efficient shopping malls; in daily practice, as when sociologists and anthropologists leave the campus to work as social workers in collaborative processes of urban renewal; in militant practices, as when architects and philosophers used to work together on counter-proposals for the production of the city against capitalist logic; etc.

This call for papers remains open regarding the kind of encounters that will be presented at the conference. The idea is to fully explore the diversity of forms that these encounters can take as well as the objects they produce (be they material or theoretical) and the disciplinary reshuffling they induce.

Describing scenes of encounters

The conference promotes the description of the encounters under the form of scenes. This form should allow considering the consequences of the encounters, what they produced at the intersection of several disciplinary fields, whatever the nature of these results: buildings, techniques, materials, urban projects, policies, methodologies, etc. The description of a scene should also allow thinking of these encounters as specific and singular situations, within which disciplinary boundaries can sometimes get blurred, enrich or endanger each other. Criteria are then imposed by situations themselves; instead of amounting to the simple addition of criteria proper to each discipline involved.

Again, examples listed in this text shouldn’t be considered as a limitation to the spectrum of scenes possibly described. For every scene, it is possible to describe not only the results stemming from the encounter, but also their ingredients and the way they modify the different parties involved.

The conference doesn’t set any temporal limit. Papers can address some past encounter as well as some situation at stake or some experience in the making as well as some encounter to come. What matters is to be able to describe the experience itself in addition to its potential results. The position of the speaker regarding the encounter also remains open: s/he can be an actor of the encounter who recounts her/his experience or an observer who gives her/his analysis. This call for papers is thus open as much to practitioners, teachers, academics, field workers, etc. and of course to all those who are at the intersection of these positions, which are never tight.

Questioning criteria of success

Finally, the conference also seeks to look into the criteria of failure or success of the encounters. Of course, every scene develops its own criteria. The idea is not to judge these from a normative point of view, which would be external, disconnected and formulated in advance. On the contrary, the conference seeks to understand to what extent every encounter imposes its own standards. The question is: To what extent is the encounter a success? for whom? and following which criteria?

As several parties are implicated in the encounter, these criteria are often multiple. Success for one might not mean success for another. For example, when architects borrow concepts from philosophers, it doesn’t necessarily involve success for the philosophers involved. There are successful encounters; but friction and total opposition is also a common outcome. This is of great interest for the conference as well.

The conference will take place in Brussels, at Université Libre de Bruxelles, on May 26th & 27th, 2014.

Submission guidelines

  • Abstracts (3.000 characters including spaces) must be sent by the latest on January 17th, 2014
  • Selected abstracts will be announced at the end of February 2014.
  • Papers (25.000 characters including spaces) are due on April 25th, 2014.
  • A selection of papers will be published in the 3rd issue of CLARA architecture/recherche journal.
  • The conference may take place in French, but papers in English are welcome.

Organising committee

Jean-Louis Genard, Pauline Lefebvre, Judith le Maire, Typhaine Moogin.


  • Friday, January 17, 2014


  • architecture, urbanisme, sciences humaines, transdisciplinarité


  • Pauline Lefebvre
    courriel : pauline [dot] lefebvre [at] ulb [dot] be
  • Typhaine Moogin
    courriel : erre [dot] architecture [at] ulb [dot] ac [dot] be

Information source

  • Laboratoire Sasha
    courriel : rencontresalacroisee [at] gmail [dot] com


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« Encounters at the Intersection of Architecture and Social & Human Sciences: Emergence and Displacements », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Friday, December 13, 2013, https://calenda.org/269455

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