3rd International Alvar Aalto Meeting on Modern Architecture
Building â€“ Designing â€“ Thinking
August 30-31, 2008
Call for Papers
In the introduction to his essay on architecture, AbbÃ© Laugier claims that â€in those arts which are not purely mechanical it is not sufficient to know how to work; it is above all important to learn to think.â€ But how should one then think about architecture, or rather, think in architecture? Is there a specific architectural way of thinking, as opposed to, say, an art historical way of looking at a building? Can design be a form of thinking? Or does it all boil down to subjective taste?
The 3rd International Meeting on the Research of Modern Architecture, organised by the Alvar Aalto Academy, examines the points of contact, the influences and effects, the interactions and affiliations, the correlations and cross-fertilisations, the bonds and links between thinking, designing, and building.
Chaired by Kari Jormakka, the meeting takes place in August, 2008, in Helsinki and JyvÃ¤skylÃ¤, Finland, bringing together practicing architects and architectural pedagogues, philosophers and art historians, sociologists and cultural theorists. In addition to presentations by distinguished invited speakers, as
Farshid Moussavi, Foreign Office Architects, London, England / Harvard University, Cambridge MA, USA
Bernard Cache, Objectile, Paris, France
Jane Rendell, Bartlett, London, England
Leslie Kavanaugh, TU Delft, The Netherlands
Kimmo Lapintie, Helsinki University of Technology, Finland
Gareth Griffiths, Tampere University of Technology, Finland
Contributions are sought for five paper workshops.
The workshops of the meeting are following:
Workshop 1 | Translations from concepts to buildings
â€œHe has built them a thought over thereâ€ â€“ this is how Karl Kraus described Adolf Loosâ€™ house on the Michaelerplatz in Vienna. Many critics take it for granted that there is a generating idea or a central concept at the core of an architectural project. But is this how the creative process really unfolds? Do the frequent references to deconstruction, Deleuze, Bergson, Merleau-Ponty or pragmatism by recent architects and critics relegate architecture to the status of an illustration of something more fundamental? What about architecture that does not signify anything nameable but rather establishes an atmosphere? Was Le Corbusier right in asserting that the essence of architecture is ineffable?
Provisional Workshop 2 | Space for thought
Philosophical texts abound with architectural metaphors. To some observers this indicates that philosophy is premised on, if not conditioned by, architecture. Certainly, it can be argued that the conception of thought as something abstract has involved a basic misunderstanding of the body and space. But how does architecture with its techniques of spatial ordering contribute to the constitution of the thinking subject? How are the concepts that philosophers define dependent on the precepts and affects proposed by art and architecture? And how is space, in turn, produced and reproduced by various discourses and practices?
Workshop 3 | Understanding architecture
For Heinrich WÃ¶lffl in, explaining a style equals demonstrating that it says the same thing as all other organs of its time. Does understanding a building or a work of architecture likewise require that it be related to contemporaneous phenomena, such as social conditions, political ideologies, scientific theories, or other regimes and techniques of visuality and spatiality? Or should architecture be explained genealogically, reconstructing the intentions of the architect or positioning the work within the discourse or history of the discipline? Can we concentrate exclusively on the design itself and decipher its internal dynamics? Or can we recognize the work in the effects it generates?
Workshop 4 | Thought experiments in Muuratsalo
A test case for different interpretive approaches is provided by the Experimental House in Muuratsalo, Finland, designed by Alvar Aalto in 1953. In order to explain how he came up with the design that combines archetypal patterns with organic shapes and apparently random articulations of surface, the architect referred (without too much elaboration) to YrjÃ¶ Hirnâ€™s theories on creative play as the origin of art. How could such an authorial reading be amended with critical insights drawn from current theories? How would the building appear from perspectives opened by phenomenology, psychoanalysis, gender studies, formalism or visual culture? A DVD with a set of drawings, photographs and a movie of the house is available for contributors interested in proposing a close reading of Muuratsalo.
Workshop 5 | Architectural expertise
Ever since Vitruvius, architects have claimed the ability to tap into expert knowledge from diverse fields and forge it into a culturally cogent synthesis. That special skill â€“ some speak of â€œdesign intelligenceâ€ â€“ is today in urgent need of further articulation, as architects face the danger of losing their leading position in the production of buildings. Does architectural expertise consist of tacit knowledge â€“ or could it be explicated and formalised even to the extent that design could be carried out by computers alone? How is this expertise transferred through education and how should it be modified in the face of current technological and economic developments? Can a design project be equal to a traditional Ph.D. dissertation as a form of academic research and critical thinking?
Workshop 6 | Architecture and popular taste
The expertise of nuclear physicists or brain surgeons is seldom doubted even though few of us understand what they are doing or saying. By contrast, architects have to face constant criticism. Is this because truly challenging works of architecture require a period of time before they can be understood by a broader public? What about the Bilbao effect, then? Is there an architectural avant-garde that senses the future like a seismograph, to borrow Hans Holleinâ€™s metaphor? Is broad acceptance proof of successful architecture â€“ or can we ignore popular criticism because â€œall public opinion is manipulated opinion,â€ as Richard Serra used to maintain? Or would it be more effective to view architecture in Bourdieusian terms as a battlefield between social classes and examine taste as a distinction strategy?
Kari Jormakka, Chairman
Call for Papers
Conference proceedings will be refereed and published.
â€¢Abstracts of 250 words are due 4 February by email to the address firstname.lastname@example.org. Paper Format Guidelines will be sent upon request and upon receipt of abstract.(Referee advice will be progressively circulated.)
â€¢Notification of acceptance by 25 February. Drafts due 28 April.
â€¢Final deadline for completed and accepted papers (of 4000 words maximum) are due 2 June by email to the address email@example.com.
â€¢Accepted papers will be published in a pre-conference publication.
â€¢Keynote speaker presentations and selected papers will be published and distributed after the conference.
Dates to Remember:
4 February 2008 Deadline for Abstracts
25 February 2008 Notification Acceptance Abstract. Invitation to Full Paper Submission
28 April 2008 Deadline for Draft Papers
2 June 2008 Deadline for Final Papers
30-31 August 2008 International Alvar Aalto Meeting on Modern Architecture
Saturday Aug 30th, 2008
9.15 LECTURE I
10.05 Sessions A and B
13.00 LECTURE II
15.00 OPEN LECTURE (studia generalia)
16.30 end of day one of the discussions
19.00 Welcome reception
Sunday Aug 31st, 2008
9.15 LECTURE III
10.05 Sessions C and D
13.00 LECTURE IV
15.00 LECTURE V
16.15 OPEN LECTURE (studia generalia)
17.30 end of day two of the discussions
18.00 end of the Meeting
Alvar Aalto Academy
Alvar Aalto Museum
City of JyvÃ¤skylÃ¤
Kari Jormakka, Professor TU, Vienna, Austria
Esa Laaksonen, Director Alvar Aalto Academy
Ms. Merja Vainio
Ms. Mari Forsberg
The official language of the conference is English.
The conference venue is the main auditorium of the JyvÃ¤skylÃ¤ University
(designed by Alvar Aalto 1954-55).
Call for papers, registration and further information: