June 24-26, 2021 | Brooklyn, New York City, USA

2021 ACSA/EAAE Teachers Conference

Curriculum for Climate Agency: Design (in)Action


October 14, 2020

Abstract Deadline

January 2021

Abstract Notification

June 24-26, 2021

Teachers Conference

July 7, 2021

Full Paper Deadline

Call for Abstracts

Curriculum for Climate Agency: Design (in)Action

Submission site opening in July 2020.

The 2021 ACSA/EAAE Teachers Conference, Curriculum for Climate Agency, welcomes a range of formats for presentation and communication, from full‐paper and project based presentations, to workshop‐based interactions, to graphic, visual and/or textual analyses of projects that respond to the 10 scholarship themes:

Scholarship Themes

Monstrous Infrastructure ‐ The Alternative Scales of Production

This session is interested in how our core design curricula will encourage students to recalibrate and hybridize the known forms of architecture, landscape, and planning in the face of the changing scales of manufacturing, processing, and resource movements. This last century witnessed a radical shift in urban geography, wherein the world transitioned from a condition where the means of sustaining life were manufactured and processed locally, to a regionally and globally decentralized paradigm of production. This geographic reality demanded the construction of vast infrastructural networks – capable of moving goods, energy, water, and waste across the region and globe. Cementing a hierarchical relationship between the hub and hinterland, this distribution perpetrated a profound sense of abstraction surrounding the lifestyle of modernity in terms of its extra‐local climate effects. Today, we witness our governments struggle to contend with ( or ignore ) the massive social, ecological and economic costs associated with these overburdened unseen infrastructures.

Design educators must teach students to no longer cast out these technological beasts but instead, as described by Bruno Latour, learn to ‘love your monsters’ so that the next generation might ameliorate the carbon ties and injustices wrought by this unsustainable and underfunded nightmare. How can our curriculum find new sustainable solutions for the production and processing of resources from the local knowledge of under‐represented and formerly invisible populations? What are the formal and political consequences of moving cities towards private business owned infrastructure versus community collectives? How do we engender new forms of aesthetic output that hybridize the machinery wrested from the ex‐urban context and deposit them into the cultural productions of the city? How can re‐scaling societal production allow us to re‐examine the implicit twentieth‐century bias towards polarized density in favor of more redundant sets of settlement patterns that blur the boundaries of an ecumenopolis?

This session invites papers and projects that consider the broad and societal implications for the incorporation of the ecosystems of waste, air, energy, water, and food into our immediate terrestrial existence. The panel encourages scholarship that fosters new strategies for blurring the existing boundaries of the city and the hinterland ‐ seeking work that engages in cross‐disciplinary production of hybrid form for those systems previously relegated outside of the province of design. Additionally, this session will embody teaching that instills an ethos of world‐change into the design of the micro‐scale, while conversely provoking terrestrial accountability when providing design solutions at the whole‐earth. Beyond here, there be monsters…

Unlearning Architecture ‐ Environmental History + Theory

Richard Stein’s Architecture and Energy study from 1978, funded by the American Institute of Architects, demonstrated that the greatest energy extravagance of human activity resulted from the way buildings were produced. When considering the production and use of materials as “embodied energy”, the construction industry accounted for more than ten percent of the total human energy consumption. This connection between energy and the built environment may not have been new to students of architectural history who may have read Auguste Choisy’s History of Architecture (1899). Stein’s study was preceded by a number of important experiments in architecture including Stewart Brand’s Whole Earth Catalogue, Steve Baer’s ZOME house and Ralph Knowles’ study of the relation between urban form and solar energy. In a different vein, Kenneth Frampton’s later history and theory of tectonics can also be considered as a response to the view of the built environment as the result of building processes that include the extraction of materials, the construction, the lifetime, and eventually the demolition of a building.

One consequence of Stein’s study was that the data it presented forced architecture to tackle intra‐disciplinary knowledge. One could argue that environmental history and theory emerges in response to this context. On one hand, environmental history and theory provides a way to consider architecture in relation to histories of energy, extraction, infrastructure, production, supply chain and labor. The environmental lens on history is a way to encompass all the elements of the built world (people, place, technology) and in so doing it could emerge as the place in scholarship where important connections can effectively be made. It encompasses a variety of scales expanding from building details to cities. On the other hand, environmental history and theory can become a way to consider architecture’s disciplinarity, how research is defined in architecture and how architecture incorporates knowledge from other disciplines. If architectural history and theory is the place in the curriculum where disciplinarity of architecture is questioned and formulated always anew, environmental history and theory can be the place where the limits and the abilities of the discipline come into view, where new affinities can be drawn and articulated, and where we ask the question, “how do we know what we know.”

This track invites submissions both on an expanded history and theory of architecture with a lens on the environment, as well as critical contributions on the limits and capabilities of disciplinary knowledge on addressing climate change. Papers can address critical accounts of design projects, histories of representation and analysis, as well as histories of extraction, production and energy.

Environmental Morphology – Pedagogical Drivers in the Form of Performance

It can be construed that the practice of architecture is inherently the application of form. Whether that is peered through the lens of historic precedent, structural logic, programmatic requirement, typological consideration, or even emergent technologies, the resultant is an authored formal manifestation. In architectural teaching these manifestations all too often take on static consideration as their models for development, rather than dynamic forces—specifically environmental considerations, energy‐based opportunities, and ecological relationships. The currently unfolding and ubiquitously disastrous impacts of climate change require a deep consideration of environmental drivers to be integrated into architectural pedagogy, not only from scientific and technological perspectives, rather as meaningful generators of formal responsiveness that couple building performance to design invention.

When considering environmental drivers in the creation of formal systems, one must grapple with constantly evolving conditions and pose dynamic solutions to meet the demands of the forces, take advantage of energetic flows, and foster ecological responsiveness. More robust tools are required to evaluate content, visualize data and develop suitable morphologies to take advantage of the latent opportunities. Prospects include but are in no way limited to solar, wind, water, and earth, however when considered as environmental formal drivers, each requires its own solution oftentimes in conflict. And while each system has seasonal or temporal challenges when considered individually, the application of multiple systems simultaneously requires highly calibrated formal strategies that drive new forms of thinking, new forms of mapping, new forms of making, and entirely new forms of architecture, landscape and urbanism.

This call is intensely interested in pedagogical methodologies that fold these drivers into the thinking, teaching, and making of responsive and emergent architecture and urban design. It seeks to discover processes, challenges, productive failures, formal successes and relational feedback loops in how geometric opportunity is conveyed to enhance performance. It looks to uncover how the utilization of building science in architectural studios provides productive territory for creative making and how evolving time‐base factors can influence dynamic forms. It hopes to uncover how processes for measuring and monitoring environmental factors and their impact on the built environment can insert a technological and morphological dialogue across all scales of design, from apparatus to urban intervention. It pursues the use of new tools in an evolving technological landscape to not only amplify performance, but more importantly to influence the way formal thinking is taught across the entire curriculum.

21st Century Charter for Healthy + Just Cities

CIAM IV, “The Functional City” (1933), culminated in the “The Athens Charter,” which re‐focused modern cities around public health through a transformation of habitation, leisure, work, and circulation that maintained vibrancy while preserving principal urban functions ‐ to protect and promote inhabitants’ biological and psychological well being. Critical theories of pedagogy and practice emerged from this charter, shaping today’s built environments by emphasizing light, air, health and safety in designs, standards, codes, and zoning. Parallel to these improvements in global public health and well being, a legacy of unequal, unsustainable and unhealthy development, design, and practices have contributed to socioeconomic inequality, environmental injustice, and health vulnerability disparities, all symptoms exposed by the COVID‐19 pandemic.

This track invites respondents to consider how urbanist academics and professionals can emerge into a global nexus of social distancing, public and mental health crises, and socioeconomic and environmental stratification. As we reach the carrying capacity of resources and systems and the pandemic stretches our societies’ limits, academics, students, and professionals must collaborate with burdened frontline communities and society at large to re‐envision our built environment to serve critical functions, old and new: to protect and promote public health and well being, and rectify over a century of growing inequality and environmental and health vulnerabilities. How and with whom will we form this Twenty‐First Century Charter for Healthy and Just Cities?

Abstracts submitted to this track examine and propose inclusive and just processes that position nascent urbanist and design professionals and educators as agents in a broader movement for healthy environments. Can we imagine a 21st‐century charter that buillds upon equity and health‐focused theories such as socio‐ecological design, participatory action research, and universal design, incorporating lessons from environmental, civil rights, climate justice, and grassroots movements of the past century? How can the academic community, urbanist professions, architects, and climate and social justice movements work together to heal wounds borne out of extractive 20th century urbanism practices? How can the design classroom promote broader public health and safety strategies, inclusive of social and environmental health ‐ combining the Right to Light, City, and Health Care? Which mechanisms can promote actionable and inclusive pedagogies for the 21st century built environment and systems? If “The Athens Charter” was a 20th‐century monument to public health, what is our vision for a new charter that fosters a pedagogy of collective health, restorative and regenerative systems, and racial, social, economic, environmental and climate justice?

The Cross Disciplinary Climate Classroom

Climate crisis, species mass extinction and global pandemic challenges the anthropocentric biases and academic timeframes of architectural pedagogy. Powerful new sites outside of the conventional classroom include the Water School in Dwarka by Makkink and Bey, focussed on more sustainable ways of handling water, or the Nikola Lenivets Art Park and open classroom in Russia’s Kaluga region explores new craft technologies in dialogue with rural communities, seeking to design not just the new classroom but also new employment in remote communities. These experimental schools create a thick strata for design research, integrating multiple design disciplines, from craft to the social sciences, engaging in policy and economics as well as the voices and expertise of local and indigenous communities. These radical pedagogies also approach the built environment from the perspective of multiple species, incorporating the requisite technologies and materials to promote non‐human life as well. The cross‐disciplinary climate classroom draws new filiations between the locality of its community and the global reach of climate crisis; just as it requests collaborations across biological and computer sciences, landscape and design practices, material sciences and construction.

This panel begins by asking what cross disciplinary approaches and methodologies begin to acknowledge the immense complexity and timescales of climate change in the way we teach and study design? How can we conceive of alternative pedagogical settings (living labs, island schools, field stations, urban farms) that can foster the types of pedagogies required to address nature and its demise? What broader roles and collaborations can architectural pedagogy embrace, such as policy writing, to overcome traditional limitations of academic research settings? What new modalities of production and outputs reflect these necessarily collaborative, cross‐disciplinary and open‐ended pedagogies for climate change?

This session invites papers that challenge pedagogical and disciplinary orthodoxy with cross‐disciplinary, multi‐year and multi‐site projects. We are especially interested in ecological and experimental models which begin to weave together the needs of the disciplinary core (history, studio, and technology courses) with methods and approaches from diverse fields, from the biological and material sciences, landscape and agriculture, posthuman and post‐Anthropocene theories. Such methods may productively dismantle the artificial separation between species, material and environment, while articulating new territories of collaboration among disciplines.

The Architecture of Migration and a Sense of Belonging

  1. The feel of cool marble under bare feet
  2. How to live in a small room with five strangers for six months
  3. With the same strangers in a lifeboat for one week

In the three lines above, the beginning of Michael Sorkin´s poetic and powerful curriculum “Two hundred fifty things an architect should know”, we hear his request to his fellow architects. It is a call for empathy with those who are forced to flee, and it is a call for political engagement – but without leaving the architectural essentials behind.

The phenomenon of migration is a significant part of human history. Today, escalating urbanization trends accompanied by increasing occurrences and intensity of natural hazards and man‐made disasters, are reasons for a record high number of people being forced to leave their homes. In response to Sorkin’s request for making the world more just, it is time to question and rediscover the role of the architect as a societal agent of change.

Displacement, loss of place and new spatial encounters are the fundamentals of migration. Migration is also a gradual process of finding ways and places of (new) belonging. Architecture at its core is about creating a sense of belonging. What then is the contribution of our discipline in responding to migration and the larger question of not being in place? How does architectural education enable students to meet these specific challenges?

This track is interested in different kinds of methodologies, pedagogical principles and interdisciplinarity used in the education of architects related to the architecture of migration and a sense of belonging. The track will discuss how to teach the spatial and social aspects of migration and will include reflections on whether architectural training can and should be a testing ground for merging academia with field experiences (in crisis response) – and the ethics there of.

The track will in particular be interested in contributions exploring the spatial implications of diversity, temporality, social sustainability and belonging. What architectural approaches can address displacement across scales and across typologies? And at what scales should one work, and think ‐ for the home, for the common spaces, for the city, for the landscapes?

Inhabiting the Hydrosphere ‐ Water as Building Material

Water is an element like no other. Its movement has shaped terrain and is shaped by terrain. It is a material that inherently traverses long distances while changing states, shapes, colors and tastes. It binds energy, minerals, substances. It vanishes from sight, infiltrating and evaporating, while regulating temperatures. It surfaces, disguised, in the air as fog or edible as fruit and vegetables. It takes space, seasonally, and with sea level rise also permanently. It is a threat and a source of joy. The care‐taking of water, its distribution and regulation, is essentially political and continues to organize societies.

Climate change – increasingly tangible as draughts and floods, urban heat islands, and rising but also contaminated seas – reminds us fiercely to dwell in a sphere characterized by a dynamic element found on, under, and above the surface: the hydrosphere.

This track not only acknowledges the hydrosphere as the very context of inhabitation but also its modification and construction through design. While the planning of cities and territories historically is tied to hydraulic engineering, and landscape architecture’s momentums are entangled with hydrology, this track urges architects to also contribute. Eventually – by means of the global and local water cycles – every building act engages, contains, forms, or builds water, and is actively part of a fluctuating flow regime including the sky and the ground.

With water as embedded material in any architectural, urban or landscape project, which are the beginnings to design? The hydrosphere poses irreversible demands on concepts of site, form and representation. Situated or upstream or downstream, design must open up to territorial questions. Placed within the shaping histories of water, design theory must carry forward form related to force. Given the shifting quantities and composition of the water cycle, design practice must assume its role in the cascade of slowing, storing, cleaning, use and encrustation. In face of changing water fronts design must provide adaptation principles of layering or retreat.

Thus, to incorporate the trans‐scalar, cyclic, dynamic and hybrid properties of water into our curriculums, must we not conceive a new Pedagogical Sketchbook as Paul Klee did to liberate the static line and infuse it with the motion of a walking dot? Which are the precedents, theories of form, design techniques, and allied experts required to empower the next generation of architects to become creative operators of the hydrosphere?

Closing the Loop: Circular Sustainability

The globe has been anthropogenically altered by an overconsumption of materials, land and energy, which may be characterized by what Rem Kolhaas once called thinning: our material footprint increases, and mostly in areas where population density decreases.

This track argues the need to develop practices, methods and tools for circular processes. It emphasizes economic, social and environmental elements in adaptive reuse of buildings and building materials, of ground materials like gravel, sand, dirt, and of land area. This also relates to immaterial phenomena like economic models, labour systems, consumption patterns and biological cycles. The track calls for an increasing awareness of the relationship between climate heritage, cultural heritage and circular processes.

The track encourages work that identifies what a circular design process is and how we can teach such processes. How are we going to identify the circular elements in existing design processes and the various resources involved, and how does it affect teaching? Concomitantly the track asks for work that explores and promotes life cycle assessment methodologies, especially crossovers between design, landscape and heritage discourses.

Circular design processes provoke challenges for cultural heritage values. How may life cycle assessment analyses develop sensitivity towards cultural values and identity inherent to materials and landscapes that may be re‐used or restored? Is there any potential for combining circular design and climate heritage methods such as upcycling without infringing cultural values? This balance‐game between values lost and values gained is essential.

The obvious need for circular models materializes differently with geography. Remote and vulnerable locations like Arctic territories provoke immediate actions, and may serve as a laboratory for developing circular practices as a means to ensure a light footprint in vulnerable environments. (Greenland, Svalbard, Alaska, Canadian north).

We encourage research practice studios for exploration of actions that may be taken towards developing tools for life cycle analysis and circular use of materials. This may include efforts at introducing this perspective within existing analytical frameworks. It could also involve a critical discussion of the very concept of ‘circularity’ and the extent to which this is actually achievable and appropriate within the context of design, landscape and cultural heritage.

Abstract by Nature ‐ Geometry, Colour, Proportion and Structure in the Ecological Project

Benedictine monk Dom Hans van de Laan was a peculiar character in architecture’s pedagogy. He used to unfold large pieces of Scottish tartan to his students in order to explore the basic compositional elements of design and space. For van de Laan, the Scottish Tartan contained all the principles necessary to act as spatial designer, regardless of scale and function, from houses to landscapes and cities.

“Following a classical tradition, he strove for symmetry (symmetria), mathematical harmony and measurable proportions between the sizes of the components of a building, from the part to the whole. (…) He developed his own proportional system, or what he called ‘the plastic number’, which he used in an effort to rationalise the subjective experience of architecture. This approach favoured two ratios – 3:4 and 1:4 – whose juxtaposition could be read through all of the elements of the building, from the thickness of a wall, to its footprint on the site, to even its relationship to the city.” – Caroline Voet

This track explores and challenges the persistent opposition between abstraction and environmentalism, and aims to present a panorama of contemporary experiments within design education. Notwithstanding the growing pressures from an undeniable climate crisis, reductive and abstract methods persist as the most effective pedagogical models. We aspire for contemporary educational approaches and scholarship that effectively link methods of abstraction in design education to climate, particularly methods that question or renew the relevance of systems of proportion, order, rhythm and colour theory across scales. We are also interested in how systems of abstraction that traditionally belong to fields rooted in live matter and living systems should inform architecture’s pedagogy, as for example, the systems of abstraction developed and widely used in landscape architecture and landscape planning.

Rather than waiting for technical performance‐criteria becoming policy, it is urgent that we provide a credible basis for the radical changes that are happening, from within our own discourses. How can environmental sensitivity permeate the basic building blocks of design education? In this call we aspire to discover contemporary versions of van de Laan’s tartans, in other words, radical and reductive systems of abstraction able to include environmental issues in the teaching of design across fields.

Design Agency: Climate Action Over Climate Despair

When asked if he believed it was already too late to address Climate Change, Noam Chomsky replied: “We have two choices. We can be pessimistic, give up, and help ensure that the worst will happen. Or we can be optimistic, grasp the opportunities that surely exist, and maybe help make the world a better place. Not much of a choice.” (Chomsky, 2017).

Design has increasingly become a discipline that promotes excessive consumption by designing for artificial ‘wants’ rather than for essential ‘needs’. As a consequence, it has primarily developed methods, curriculums and mindsets for a perceived society of affluence, rather than one where essential needs are prioritized. We assume that the present climate crises, now compounded by COVID‐19, requires radical changes in both our society and our present design education henceforth. Thus, we want to imagine and reimagine what these radical changes could be by employing a critical yet optimistic approach based on radical actions.

For instance, what developmental trajectories are actually available today and how could they manifest in our design curricula? We should probably also ask ourselves, perhaps more than ever, how we effectively could develop a more decolonized design curriculum that upends the exploitation of nature and of people? Or what if we were to rediscover all the rejected, yet appropriate, futures and technologies we might need in order to create long term sustainable civilisations? This by revisiting all the ones that were abandoned as they didn’t fit into the espoused contemporary business models. Finally, it might be timely to also discuss a new and more relevant curriculum for ‘post educational training’. What are, for instance, the additional topics we need to add and what kind of disciplines could most effectively work together in a taskforce addressing the climate crises we today face?

In the shadow of the present and urgent climate crises; this track would like to explore the kind of opportunities that might still exist from a design educational perspective. With an exhibition showcasing illustrative work and acting as an important back‐drop we want to invite paper submissions within, but not limited to, these kinds of questions that in different ways explore alternative options for a design education being more in tune to the urgent challenges we face today.

Submission Requirements

Submission Deadline: October 14, 2020

Scholarly Presentations

Authors may submit abstracts for papers or design projects. Selection of scholarly presentations will be based on blind peer review of abstracts accompanied by optional images. Authors of accepted abstracts who present their work at the conference are then invited to submit a final paper or project for a second peer review for inclusion in a conference proceedings. It is expected that feedback from the abstract review and conference presentation will inform the final paper.

  • Abstracts must not exceed 500 words
  • No more than 5 images may be submitted along with the abstract.
  • Omit all author names from the submission and any other identifying information to maintain an anonymous review process.
  • Authors may present no more than two papers or drawings at the conference. No individual may be listed as the first author on more than two submissions.
  • Submissions must report on recently completed work and cannot have been previously published or presented in public, except to a regional audience.
  • Submissions must be written in English.
How to Submit

The deadline for submitting to the Teachers Conference is October 14, 2020. Authors will submit abstracts or poster proposals through ACSA’s online interface. ACSA members will log in with their ACSA username and password. EAAE members and other authors will create an ACSA account to log-in and complete the online submission.

Peer-Review Process

All abstracts will undergo a double-blind peer-review process. The conference Scientific Committee will take into consideration the evaluations furnished by the peer reviewers and render final acceptance decisions.

Conference Presentation & Publication

Accepted authors agree to make a 15–20 minute presentation of their paper at the Teachers Conference. Accepted authors must pay full conference registration to present at the conference and be eligible for inclusion in the proceedings. Following the conference, authors of abstracts will submit finalized papers or projects for for a second peer review for inclusion in a conference proceedings. Final papers are to be 2500 – 4000 words with optional 1-5 images. Final Projects are to be 1000 – 1500 words with 5 – 10 images. The proceedings will be published either with an academic publisher or through other digital means that will meet standards for indexing.

The Organizing Committee reserves the right to withhold a paper or a project from the program if the author has refused to comply with the guidelines. Failure to comply with the conference deadlines or request for materials in advance may result in an author being dropped from the program.

Allison Smith
Programs Manager

Eric W. Ellis
Senior Director of Operations and Programs