Collection no. 004 – Architecture and/as Infrastructure
Architecture, the process of designing, constructing, and inhabiting buildings and public spaces, relies on infrastructure. And infrastructure, the material components and social connections that provide foundational services for citizens, depends on architecture. Conceptualizing architecture without thinking about infrastructure is, this themed issue argues, out of the question.
Architecture and infrastructure are continuously evolving in relation to one another, constituting the basic fabric of contemporary cities. Architects as designers are becoming more integrated into decision-making processes that produce infrastructure, showing that buildings and public places are embedded in and generate living environments. A combination of design ideas and techniques, construction materials, building standards, and skilled labor confer distinct character to schools, apartment houses, libraries, promenades, and community centers. But architecture also surpasses that which is planned and constructed. Architecture operates as social practice, taking into consideration technologies, aesthetics, and acoustics. How can we utilize an architectural approach to infrastructure that emphasizes the social, material, and economic connections of urban landscapes? In what ways do built environments create racial, ethnic and class divisions as well as other boundaries? And how do buildings and public spaces produce, reproduce, and contest relationships of power and authority?
Drawing on emerging conversations between architects, urban planners, geographers, and anthropologists, we call for a perspective on contemporary cities that interrogates how architecture and urban design function as and with infrastructure. Architecture and infrastructure come together through social practices and material networks: pipes leading from and to buildings provide water and sewage solutions; the installation of solar and energy storage systems power electricity grids; wires and fiber optic cables enable heating and cooling facilities, sustainable lighting, and high-speed internet; and integrated mobility systems connect houses and recreation areas to underground car parks, vehicle sharing services, metro networks, railways, and other public modes of transportation. In all such cases, repair and maintenance are essential to avoid failure and keep modern forms of living alive. Looking beyond the discrete infrastructural systems that underlie cities, this issue examines the social and political practices that shape urban architecture.
We especially encourage submissions that include non-textual forms of art and knowledge, such as renderings, photographs, designs, sketches, and other visual and audio material.
Final papers (max. 1500 words) are due on May 31, 2020.
Edited by Nadine Plachta and Madlen Kobi
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