Current: Collective for Architecture History and Environment

Current: Mission

Current: places the environment in the foreground of architecture history. Current: understands history writing as a reflective practice that enables and advances an active role for architecture history in shaping the future. Current: promotes a view of architecture and its history that is critically engaged with equity and ecology.

As a scholarly collective, Current: will stage discussions, host an archive of open-source academic papers, teaching resources, and a library of relevant primary documents. A lexicon of key terms and a bibliography of published material pertaining to architecture and environment will be collectively produced by our community and updated periodically.

While the physical alteration of the planetary system continues unabated, with uneven effects on communities, ecosystems, and cities around the world, the study of architecture and the writing of its histories must not remain passive or neutral. Industries associated with the design and construction of the built environment—resource extraction, land clearing, construction—have some of the most detrimental impacts on the environment today. Current: recognizes the intensity of the global environmental crisis, and is concerned with scholarship that engages the environment in the context of racial and social justice concerns.

Current: seeks to develop strong alliances with fields that are already poised to address the climate crisis such as ecology, sociology, anthropology, media studies, geography, critical race studies, history of science, history of technology, and the environmental humanities at large. This website aims to be a platform for the productive entanglement of these fields, their influences and traditions, and their forms of humanistic and applied knowledge.

Founding Editors

Dalal Musaed Alsayer

is an Assistant Professor of Architecture at Kuwait University. She holds postgraduate degrees from Columbia and Harvard, and a PhD from the University of Pennsylvania. She is the coauthor of Pan-Arab Modernism: History of Architectural Practice in The Middle East (Actar, 2020). She is currently developing a manuscript based on her dissertation, Architecture, Environment, Development: The United States and the Making of Modern Arabia, 1949-1961 which examines the ways U.S. development programs sought to transform the social, environmental, and urban fabric of the Arab World.

Daniel A. Barber

is an Associate Professor and Chair of the PhD Program in Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania. His books ModernArchitecture and Climate: Design before Air Conditioning and A House in the Sun: Modern Architecture and Solar Energy in the Cold War demonstrate the importance of environmental factors to the history of architecture. His essays, lectures, and teaching reframe the means and ends of architectural knowledge towards a robust engagement with the contemporary climate crisis.

Carson Chan

is an architecture writer and curator. His doctoral research at Princeton School of Architecture examines the convergence of architecture, environmental history, and media history by tracing the development of postwar public aquariums in the United States alongside the rise of environmentalism. He co-curated the Marrakech Biennale (2012) and served as executive curator of the Biennial of the Americas (2013). He is a lecturer at Weitzman School of Design (UPenn), where he teaches a graduate seminar called Architecture’s Ecology.

Current: Join Us

Events, grant and fellowship applications, relevant deadlines and additional information will be posted in Current: Events. Calls for papers will be posted under Current: Submissions, to stay to update and to join the collective, please enter your information and follow us on Instagram. We are all in this together.

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Events

September 28, 12:00pm-1:00pm

Fernando Lara: Architecture and Decolonization

Lunchtime lecture sponsored by Current: and the Penn PhD Program in Architecture

January 4, 2021, 5:00pm

Deadline for Abstracts

Current: Submissions

Call For Papers

Issued October 12, 2020

The theoretical object at the center of architecture is the building, thus concepts of “site” and “context” must also be central to the field. Before all else, to conceive of buildings—formally, materially, spatially—is to develop a position on the physical and climatic conditions in which it is located. That is to say, the “environment” constitutes the precondition and the cause of the architectural project.

Through original research of relevant case studies, Current:’s inaugural call for papers asks contributors to consider some of the following questions:

•  How has architecture extracted from the environment in the production of architectural knowledge?

•  What does architecture history contribute to discussions about the environmental crisis?

•  How is the environment read through issues of decolonization and anti-racism in the field?

•  What does a decolonized architecture history look like?

•  How does the environment operate conceptually and physically to shape architecture design, built, and erased?

•  What does an environmental history of architecture look like?

Current: welcomes critical writing on environment and architecture, broadly defined, particularly writing that seeks to question established assumptions within the field. While Current: is focused on histories of the human-made world, essays that are interdisciplinary, speculative, and engage in novel methodological approaches are strongly encouraged. We seek to publish writing from or featuring voices that have been marginalized within architecture histories. Submissions can explore any topic, theme, region, or time-period. We are particularly interested in essays that are original, well-researched, and grounded in  case studies. Submissions can be long form essays (3000-7000 words), or shorter, exploratory articles (1000-1500 words). Long form essays will be considered through our review process (see below).

Abstracts along with a two-page CV should be emailed to current@current-collective.org by January 4, 2021. Essays that are selected by the Current: Editorial Board will be contacted by February 1, 2021, and asked to submit full essays no later than June 1, 2021, for publication in late Winter 2021. Review and submission guidelines can be found below.

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Submission Guidelines

Current: Open Access

Current: is an open-access platform, and we believe firmly in the values of open access publishing, which include the decapitalization and decolonization of academic knowledge. We welcome our contributors as partners in this stance.

Current: Review Process

We are particularly interested in submissions based on original research and that explore case studies. To advance our mission to extend architecture history beyond its academic and professional boundaries, we take a reader-centered approach to writing, a position that privileges readability and communicability. Though our editing process seeks to respect the author’s voice, please note that all texts considered for publication will be subject to revisions by Current:’s editorial team. For all full-length essays, at least one external scholar with expertise in the essay’s topic will be asked to provide further editing. Should peer-reviewing be required for some authors, Current: will provide a double-blind peer-review process.

Current: Other Submissions

In addition to the Current: Call For Papers, we also have an ongoing call for two (2) types of contributions: lexicon entries, and bibliography.

I. Current: Lexicon

Terms continually change meaning. Oftentimes, the same term is understood differently by contemporaries. Current: seeks to amass a list of key terms pertinent to this emergent field, offering multiple definitions, histories, and narratives. The aim of this “living” glossary is to enrich the architectural lexicon and to expand it to include theories, ideas, and positions alien to the field.

Through short 500-1,000 word entries, we invite authors to submit entries focused on a keyword, methodology, or idea. Concise, provocative, personal, experimental, and creative, Current: Lexicon entries can help place the environment at the foreground of architecture history writing. Submitted entries will undergo Current:’s review process and accepted entries will be published on a rolling basis.

For a list of suggested terms: Click Here.

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II. Current: Bibliography

Envisioned as a collective, Current: seeks to develop critical bibliographies that serve as a resource for scholars interested in studying, teaching, and/or reading about the environment and architecture. To that end, we have compiled a “live” and continually evolving bibliography of key texts. Workshopped as a collective and expanding bibliography, Current: is always open to suggestions, amendments, and additions. To gain access to the working document, please email us at current@current-collective.org with the subject “Bibliography.”

View the current bibliography submissions here.

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