Current Call for Papers

ZARCH is currently accepting the submission of articles for their consideration, following the external Peer Review process as described on this website. They should address the topic for the upcoming issue.


Issue 16: "Remaking Contested Architectural Heritage, Rethinking Public Space"

Deadline for submission of articles: January 10th, 2021
Expected publication date: June 2021

Call Text:

We are living through an extraordinary moment in which societies across the globe are reckoning with what to do with their monuments as part of a larger effort to address demands for social justice, and to acknowledge and repair past injustices. This reckoning has focused primarily on removing aesthetic exaltations of reprehensible figures, such as monumental statues and street names, from public spaces. As many of these statues were protected by preservation laws, heated debates have ensued about how to root out the complicity of heritage bureaucracies, resulting in the re-writing of heritage laws, according to various inflections in different countries, to enable the de-listing of historic sculptures and their removal of from public spaces. 

Yet the public spaces themselves, the architectural heritage ensembles that were designed as urban stages for those sculptural monuments, and even the residences or workplaces associated with the same reviled figures, have largely escaped the same official scrutiny. Their status as heritage remains by and large unquestioned. By the same token, the strategies for treating architectural heritage have not undergone a substantial revision. The official treatments applied to contested monuments, such as removal and deletion, while theoretically extendable to architectural heritage, have not proven to be so in practice, due in part to the comparatively large scale and materiality of architectural heritage, which make demolition prohibitively costly, the legal nature of its ownership, which often involves private and public actors, its potential for utilitarian uses beyond its symbolic or historical associations, and also, more importantly for our purposes, for ontological reasons having to do with the abstract nature of architectural expression, which resists any overdetermined association with a single biography or meaning. As a case in point, the Austrian government expropriated Hitler’s birthplace in 2017 in order to demolish it, but has since opted for turning it into a police station, and organized an international architectural competition. An additional consideration is that in some instances to demolish contested built heritage, such as plazas, boulevards or parks, as in the case of Istanbul’s Taksim Gezi park, would be to remove the very precious, and increasingly rare, public spaces where social protests against historical injustices have taken place. 

This issue of Zarch invites essays and projects that examine new ways of remaking contested architectural heritage. We are particularly interested in works that approach this question through the conceptual framework of experimental preservation, and that conceive of heritage as a creative and dynamic third realm of real and imaginary, physical and emotional, technological and social interactions between objects and subjects involved in processes of future-making. We are seeking contributions that explore the remaking of architectural heritage and the rethinking of public space through any disciplinary lens, and venture answers to related questions, such as, for example:

• How should architectural monuments end, aesthetically, politically or otherwise, given the practical impossibility of their removal?

• Can emerging ideas about the future of public space be theorized from recent physical alterations to contested architectural heritage?

• How do contemporary artistic and architectural interventions in built heritage help us rethink heritage as a future-making cultural and political strategy? 

• How can we reconcile the impulse to preserve historical architectural evidence with the moral imperative to destroy it?

• What insights can psychoanalysis, social and behavioral psychology offer for understanding how people’s interactions with architectural heritage offends, oppresses or denigrates them? 

• How can architectural heritage objects, as the recipients and bearers of public acts and expressions of anger and frustration, help societies cope with traumatic cultural transitions?

• What is the social role of architectural heritage in cultural transitions? And how does that role change over time?

• Can the imaginative remaking of the nexus between architectural heritage and public space, shed new light on related concepts such as Lefebvre’s “monumental space”, or Homi K. Bhabha’s and Edward W. Soja’s “third space”?

• What kind of aesthetic innovations, material treatments, social processes, or legal policies are able to express the public interests and desires towards contested architectural heritage? 

• Can heritage be practiced and thought outside the binary of exaltation vs. denigration?

• What lessons can be learned from how protesters are treating architectural heritage?

• How can the materiality and negativity of contested architectural heritage help inform abstract concepts of the public sphere.

• How can inanimate architectural heritage be understood as an active participant in shaping public space and its modes of social interaction, such as violent protest, and emotions, such as offense?

• What social taboos exist in how academic discourse frames contested architectural heritage?

• What does it mean to practice everyday life inside contested architectural heritage?

• How do artists and architects working independently on heritage put pressure on the traditional identity of preservation with governmental agency over the protection of cultural objects and on the narrative that government preservation bureaucracies act in the interest of the common good.

• How do artists and architects express the value of buildings that appear to have none?

• How do actions on architectural heritage help make communities visible to themselves.

• How can heritage be a form of future-making cultural identities yet-to-come and not simply a mirror of past identities?

• Can mental attachment, rather than detachment, enable new critical approaches to remaking architectural heritage? 

Jorge Otero-Pailos, Sergio Sebastián, Angélica Fernández-Morales


Print edition ISSN: 2341-0531 / Digital edition ISSN: 2387-0346. Copyright © 2016 ZARCH. All Rights Reserved