Masterclass on Architecture and Utopia, offered by Dr Nathaniel Coleman

Although the association between architecture and utopia (the relationship between imagining a new world and exploring how its new conditions can best be organized) might appear obvious from within the domain of utopian studies, architects have long attempted to dissociate themselves from Utopia. Concentrating on the difficulties writers from both perspectives have with the topic, this collection interrogates the meta-theoretical problematic for ongoing intellectual work on architecture and Utopia. The essays explore divergent manifestations of the play of Utopia on architectural imagination, situated within specific historical moments, from the early Renaissance to the present day. Enriching this discussion is the disciplinary and generational diversity of the authors represented, ranging from emerging to established voices. The volume closes with an exchange between Nathaniel Coleman, Ruth Levitas, and Lyman Tower Sargent, reflecting on the contributions the essays make to situating architecture and Utopia historically and theoretically within Utopian studies, and to articulating Utopia as a method for inventing and producing better places. Intriguing to architects, planners, urban designers, and others who study and make the built environment, this collection will also be of interest to Utopian studies scholars, students, and general readers with a concern for the interrelationships between the built environment and social dreaming.

Thursday 7 July 2011, in Nicosia, one day prior to the start of the 12th International Conference of the European Utopian Studies Society

This information is posted on behalf of Dr. Nathaniel Coleman,  Newcastle University. He  requests expressions of interest in a Masterclass on Architecture and Utopia he will be offering at the Utopian Studies conference in Nicosia this July. Please address any queries directly to . Please follow this link for detailed information on the Class, including how to apply and the deadline for doing so. Please follow this link for more general information on the Utopian Studies Conference in Nicosia: .

Ethics and Aesthetics of Architecture and the Environment

2 0 1 2    I S P A    C o n f e r e n c e

Andrew Ballantyne • Emily BradyIan Buchanan • Ian GroundPaul Guyer Simon JamesDavid Leatherbarrow Tom Spector
The subject of aesthetics is often taken as dealing with questions of mere beauty, where the word ‘aesthetic’ is colloquially interchangeable with beauty and liking. Someone might, for instance, explain their liking the look of a particular object on the basis of its ‘aesthetics’. Interestingly, even within the specialised architecture discourse, the aesthetic is largely discussed on the basis of an object’s appearance. Yet, the aesthetic is not limited and should not be limited merely to the way things look. Any philosophically informed aesthetician will contest this limited view, saying something along the lines of ‘the aesthetic is everything’. The aim of this conference is therefore in part to address this discursive limitation in architecture and related subjects by broadening the aesthetic discourse beyond questions relating to purely visual phenomena in order to include those derived from all facets of human experience.

In taking on the aesthetic in a manner that pushes its considerations beyond the realm of mere beauty, questions of ethics often arise. Indeed Wittgenstein is quoted as saying, “ethics and aesthetics are one and the same” (1921: §6.421). Questions as to why, for instance a building’s form takes the shape it does raises not only conventional aesthetic questions but also questions about what purpose or meaning the building serves beyond purely visual stimulation. Does the form for instance relate somehow to a social ideal or economic ideal? And if so, is this ideal something that its inhabitants subscribe to or are even aware of? In an effort to draw thinkers’ attention to the ethical role architecture plays as well as the ethical function architects play, the second part of this conference call addresses this often overlooked dimension of architecture.

Calling both philosophers and architects to grapple with questions regarding the ethical and aesthetic qualities of architecture, the hope is to propel the discourse beyond the limitations of a purely visual understanding of the architectural experiences. Such questions might include:

  • what is/ought to be pleasurable architecture and environmental experience?
  • how do/ought our experiences impact the aesthetics of architecture and environment?
  • how do/ought we appreciate architecture and environment?
  • how does/ought the ethical and aesthetic inform the understanding of architecture and environment?
  • what is/ought to be a good architect?
  • what is/ought to be a good architecture?
  • how does/ought architecture embody societal and cultural ethical codes?

Paper Abstracts should clearly address one of the highlighted themes above and be no more than 500 words.

Additionally please see the conference’s strand pages for more information about the Ethics and Aesthetics of Landscape and the Ethics and Aesthetics of Professional Practice as well as the Posters page for more information regarding poster submissions. Please see each strand’s themes and submission guidelines (same deadlines apply throughout).

Submissions and any further enquiries should be sent to


Abstracts: 28 October 2011

Notification of Acceptance: 06 January 2012

Full Papers & Posters: 30 March 2012

Early Registration: 30 April 2012


Wittgenstein, L. (1921 ) Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus Abdingdon: Routledge.

Harvard Citation Guide: Fahey, C. (2011) Ethics and Aesthetics of Architecture and the Environment: a call for papers, International Society for the Philosophy of Architecture, [blog] 31 Jan 2011, Available at: [Accessed: 01 June 2012].

Straining Pulp-Theory from Architecture Discourse: a symposium


The 14th of June 2010, a symposium will be held at Newcastle University. The objective of the symposium is to engender as well as provide an informal platform for real philosophic engagement with the subject of architecture. Ed Winters and Andrew Ballantyne will be giving keynote presentations. The Aesthetics Research Group from Durham University’s Department of Philosophy and the Tectonic Cultures Research Group from Newcastle University’s School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape will also participate. The intention of bringing these scholars together on this platform is not merely to raise questions about architecture, but also in a Wittgensteinian sense, bring clarity to an otherwise metaphysically muddled discourse. John Haldane eloquently describes the situation:

the facts of disagreement should encourage one to investigate the grounds of aesthetic judgement and the Continue reading