Call for Papers



Crossing the perspectives of urban studies, cultural theory and narrative, connecting the fundamentals of architectural thought with a contemporary take on the built environment as a net of infrastructures, interfaces and lived experience, the conference proposes the interdisciplinary reflection on a hybrid territory, where buildings and discourses, practices and ideas, urban texts and literature are retraced in order to stimulate a deeper awareness of cultural spaces and their narratives.

The two-days graduate conference will address a territory defined by the social spaces construction (Lefebvre) and its critical notions of interface (Nawratek), infrastructure in culture (Butler), readability and the experience of urban spaces (Certeau), as well as the city as discourse (Barthes), and the role and influence of spatial singularity by the intersection of all of the elements above (Massey).

Space needs to be occupied in order to be recognized, structures in it create also its own map and territory and it is from that point on that they are given their symbolic meanings, creating therefore, thus, their social function, as noticed by Lefebvre (1974): “(S)pace serves an intermediary or mediating role […]. This tends to turn social space into a transparent medium occupied solely by light, by ‘presences’ and influences.”

Regarding the legitimate demand for social well-being in public space, Krzysztof Nawratek (2012) writes: “Most of the emerging so-called public spaces keep their users in a limbo of indeterminacy. These spaces do not allow for intimacy and neither do they invite interaction.”

As suggested by Judith Butler (2014), public assembly and political action both contribute and depend on material conditions, inasmuch as “it seems that the space of appearance is not ever fully separable from questions of infrastructure and architecture”.

The relations between material spaces and their users are also mediated by the narratives that express the way they are experienced; whether they are collective or individual, they allow the spaces to be created and performed by those who walk in/into them, “whose bodies follow the thicks and thins of an urban ’text’ they write without being able to read it.” (Certeau, 1984) Moreover, a well-designed built environment may become a carrier of stories and information.

Every aforementioned element will, then, when coming together, form the space both solid and conceptual, as a socially created discourse that will provide it with its own personality and singularity as Massey has already stated: “What gives a place its specificity is not some long internalized story but the face that it is constructed out of a particular constellation of social relations, meeting and weaving together at a particular locus.”

The conference will discuss both theoretical insights, as well as concrete practices, case studies, experiences and experiments by architects, artists, designers, planners, project managers, curators and other cultural agents with an ongoing interest for the urban realm as medium and open-ended material reality, as well as a cultural and civilizational horizon. Aiming at the acknowledgement of the complexity of the urban scape as cultural product and workable-habitable context. The conference aims at fostering a cross-disciplinary debate, so that many and diverse aspects of the contemporary urban experience may be critically, productively and even poetically articulated. Research related to the understanding of the urban sensescape of today, to the rhetoric of space and its narrations, as well as spatial politics and policies in the city are welcome. The conference’s aim is to engage participants in a debate where narrative, architecture and urban theory meet in order to inspire the public to rediscover the care for the urban fabric as a crucial endeavor of contemporaneity.

In very concrete terms, the key question of the meeting is how to create a theoretical and ethical framework for emergent spaces and spatial practices where artistic, architectural and curatorial scopes engage in a dialogue in which the urban realms may become a more conceptually integrated and socially participated aesthetical experience.

We invite participants to address the following and related topics: 

§         Aesthetics of Cultural Spaces

§         Architectural Spectacle

§         Architecture in/for Culture

§         Architecture and Narrative

§         Architecture and Narrative in Photography

§         Art and Literature as Narratives in/about Urban Space

§         Artistic and Cultural Citizenship

§         Cultural Programing and Management 

§         Narrative and the City

§         Spatial Critique

§         Spatial Appropriation and Cultural Activism

§         Urban Design and Cultural Interfaces 

§         Urban Sensescape

§         Urban Narrative

§         Urban Text

Proposals should be no longer than 250 words and have to be sent to no later than 15.07.2019. Your abstract will be peer reviewed and you will receive notification of acceptance as soon as possible thereafter, but no later than 1.08.2019. Upon acceptance you will be requested to register and provide some personal details to finalize your registration.

The conference will be a two-day event, taking place at the Universidade Católica Portuguesa. It is scheduled to take place on the 5th and 6th of December 2019.

Registration fee: €60,00 (this includes lunch, coffee breaks and conference materials).

For The Lisbon Consortium students and members of CECC, there is no registration fee.

Greetings from Lisbon,

The organizers,

Agata Wiórko (CECC-UCP)

Iyari Martínez (CECC-UCP)