Call for Proposals: Aquarius Redux
University of Sydney, Faculty of Architecture, Design and Planning
Aquarius Redux: Rethinking Architecture’s Counterculture
4–5 July 2016
Aquarius Redux seeks to revisit, reconsider, reimagine and expand histories of countercultural architecture.
The ambition of the symposium is to begin a wider conversation about developing insightful, innovative histories that broaden the geographies of countercultural spatial production and consider its consequences anew. We hope to move beyond extant readings of psychedelic design, communal dome building and failed utopian dreamers. We also wish to avoid a simple redemption of 1960s and 1970s experimentation and to instead pick up on opportunities for rethinking accounts of countercultural design and its legacies.
There is now a significant body of intellectual history that has recalibrated conventional countercultural tropes, particularly caricatured narratives of hippiedom’s decline and inevitable failure, and its concentration in a limited set of transatlantic locations. More nuanced accounts have traced the continuity of Anglo-American countercultural thinking and practices – discerning their long-term migration into the mainstream – and offered a more expansive mapping. A more ambiguous legacy has been identified; one that sees the counterculture’s cultural, political, technological and aesthetic experimentation as important to contemporary environmentalism, lifestyle branding, business thinking or cyberculture. It has even been proposed that the reinvention of everyday life within countercultural experiments was the pivot in a deep transformation of society and the market economy. A more detailed picture has also emerged of an international, or transnational, counterculture that extended to South America, Asia and Eastern Europe, with distinctive manifestations.
Such scholarship has indicated a more pervasive, though diffuse, influence for the counterculture. It has contributed to deepening and recalibrating collective understandings of the dramatic social, political, economic and cultural shifts centred in the 1960s. Architecture was affected and implicated in those shifts. Recent scholarly work in architecture has begun to similarly theorize the discipline’s relation to the tumult of the period. This symposium hopes to further this work, and with it our understanding of the discipline’s transformations, through expanding extant histories of countercultural architecture.
We welcome contributions seeking to question the historical relationship between countercultural experiments and architecture’s knowledge base, pedagogical structures, technologies, territories, and its representational and practice forms. We are especially interested in tracing the broader geographies and discourses of this activity, given the burgeoning global interest in the history and continuing influence of alternative architectures, such as radical ecological, participatory and activist design practices.
Our aims for the symposium raise wide-ranging questions, including: What were the intersections of architectural and countercultural networks across the globe? How were architecture and the counterculture engaged in refining and popularizing ecological ideals? How did countercultural experiments reconfigure the role of the architect? What alternative set of historical projects, events and figures are brought into focus through an examination of countercultural architecture? How were questions of disciplinary boundaries articulated through countercultural projects? How did countercultural modes of political participation inhabit and transform urban space? What are the connections between countercultural architecture and phenomena such as advocacy planning, the appropriate technology movement, and systems thinking? How might methodological and disciplinary innovations like actor-network theory, Cold War studies, ecofeminism, postcolonialism and queer theory reconfigure narratives about countercultural architecture and its legacies?
Felicity D. Scott
Associate Professor of Architecture, Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, Columbia University
Associate Professor of Architecture, University of California, Berkeley
Through a U.C. Berkeley Arts Research Center Fellowship (2014) and an Associate Professor Fellowship from the Townsend Center for the Humanities at U.C. Berkeley (2011/12), Castillo has investigated the Bay Area legacy of California counterculture design. His research informed an exhibition in 2014, funded by a U.C. Berkeley Committee on Research Faculty Research Grant, entitled Design Radicals: Creativity and Protest in Wurster Hall, which reviewed “outlaw design” enterprises undertaken by faculty and students in the late-1960s and early-’70s. For the catalogue of the upcoming Walker Art Center exhibition on counterculture design, Castillo contributed the essay “Counterculture Terroir: California’s Hippie Enterprise Zone,” in Andrew Blauvelt, ed., Hippie Modernism: The Struggle for Utopia (Minneapolis: Walker Art Center, 2015). His essay “Hippie Modernism, ca. 1970: How Bay Area Design Radicals Tried to Save the Planet” is slated to appear in Places, the online journal of environmental design.
Professor of Design, University of California, Davis
We invite proposals for 20 minute papers from architectural historians, theorists, designers and practitioners, as well as those working on the issues identified in the synopsis from other fields, including art, media and politics.
The proposals should be no more than 300 words and be should be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org no later than November 1st, 2015. Please send the proposal as a PDF file without identifying information and a separate document with your name, title of paper, institutional affiliation and short CV.
The organising committee will invite selected presenters to develop their papers for publication in an edited book or journal special issue.
Notifications of acceptance will be sent on November 28th, 2015. Symposium: Monday 4th and Tuesday 5th of July, 2016