call for articles

call for articles, due August 1 2019

on site review 36: our material future

call for articles

Denys Lasdun. Royal College of Physicians, London, 1960

Denys Lasdun. Royal College of Physicians, London, 1960

Denys Lasdun felt his best building was the 1960 Royal College of Physicians, set into the Georgian terraces of Regent’s Park, London. We don’t get this kind of photograph of outside space anymore, noir-ish, uncompromising, heroic, concrete: terraces for the dark life of the soul. The public spaces of modernism were adult spaces. They weren’t spaces of power but of public access, and that was, given the history of European property ownership and display, a serious business in a serious material. Concrete is critical here: no nostalgia, nor sentiment for any past.

There was a time, briefly, in the postwar era, when the future was not tasked with pulling the past, no matter how glorious, into the present. There had been a rupture; everything was on the move: populations, society, industry, technology: the material language in architecture that responded to this upheaval was a new language. A similar response occurred in Spain after the end of the Franco regime: the architecture of 1980s Barcelona in particular was unlike anything seen before. These periods are brief. The future is heady, possibilities are open. Mourning for the past is done.

We have, right now: habitat loss, fierce weather, complex diversity, political chaos, populations on the move.

What structures, materials and forms will persist, and what needs to be replaced?

This goes way beyond social desires, fears and beliefs: it is a material conversation where beloved tropes such as narrative, identity, myth, textuality – things that have sustained architectural discourse for decades – are luxuries we can not afford right now; they seem irrelevant in the face of both the present and our future.

What will survive? Can we design an architecture for survival that will itself survive?

Is there anything that we see around us now that can guide us?

deadline for proposals: 1 August 2019, deadline for accepted and final submissions will be 30 September 2019

For a proposal, send 200 words outlining how you wish to approach this issue, and state specifically how your topic relates to the call for articles. Use the contact form HERE. It doesn’t accept images, but you can describe them if they are critical to the proposal.

Final texts should be 800-2000 words, or less when appropriate. Images must be 300dpi CMYK jpgs at least 2000px wide. Copyright clearance must be obtained for any images not your own.

Please note: On Site review is not an academic journal. We want sophisticated ideas in accessible prose. Sources and footnotes necessary only for direct quotes.