|Charrette Call for Contributions| Architectural History isn’t What It Used to Be: Designing architecture’s new histories

Guest Editors: Neal Shasore (London School of Architecture), and Alan Chandler (University of East London).

Charrette, the journal of the association of architectural educators (aae), first published in 2013, is now well established as a pioneering journal for academics, practitioners, and theorists engaged in design teaching practices and theoretical debates. For this issue (Volume 9, Issue 2), Charrette invites papers – essays, projects/narratives, polemics and book reviews – that explore the changing global contexts of the initial threshold when beginning architectural education.


This edition of Charette will ask its contributors and readers to reflect on the history of architectural history and question its place in the kind of progressive pedagogy and forward-looking, radical forms of architectural education and practice that our discipline now needs.

History, of course, is not a stable or singular entity, and therefore nor is its place in the discipline and practice of architecture. Increasingly marginalised within architectural education, history is often derisively understood merely as ‘text’ or a context, as something separate from, though vaguely supportive of, the core discipline of design. To many, it inextricably circulates with the nebula of ‘theory’ or – more concretely – it is merely a receptacle of precedents and typologies, almost infinitely so as the information matrix continues to grow exponentially.

‘Architectural History isn’t What It Used to Be’ explores whether history might actively contribute to the reinvigoration of built environment practices needed to deal effectively with a range of intersecting challenges to humanity and the planet. This issue will interrogate not only what history is for but also investigate what diverse histories can tell us about the imbalances of the present and how historical methods can be creatively deployed to make the future work better than the past. Moreover, history underpins our modern conception of heritage – of historic environments. In an age of Climate Emergency, working sensitively and imaginatively with what we have, connecting architectural history with natural history, built environments with natural environments, is an urgent obligation.

We invite words, images and archaeologies that open up possibilities for how architectural history can catalyse the way we approach the future of practice.


● How can the study of (architectural) history contribute to the forms of radical practice that the profession needs to address climate and equity?
● How can we discover, communicate and process the architectural past within the education of architects and other built environment professionals?
● How can histories beyond design – of construction, development, practice and professionalism – enrich design teaching?
● How can historical/contextual studies be imaginatively and effectively deployed in design studio teaching? What historical methods can enrich design?
● What new forms of practice relating to history and heritage should be developed?
● How can more pluralistic histories of the built environment be supported through architectural education?
● How can history be used to address central professional questions relating to climate, equity and life safety?
● How should validating criteria be adapted to support better learning experiences relating to history, contextual studies, and historic environments?

Possible Topics for Articles:

Contributions are invited from teachers, mentors, and learners (past and present) that address one or more of the following areas as they relate to ‘Architectural History isn’t What It Used to Be’:
● Social Materialism – the social cost of construction materials from whale glue and timber theft to Asbestos and Grenfell;
● Radicalism and Activism – the potential for shared media to reinvent ‘history’ as ‘participatory urban histories’;
● New Pedagogical Methods – uses of history in design education;
● Archives and Canons – new thinking of the nature and meaning of archival practice, the constitution of canons, and modes of enquiry;
● Adaption and Reuse – radical social, political and architectural approaches to historic fabrics and environments;
● Disciplinary Formations – trans- and interdisciplinary engagement with history; epistemic issues in history, antiquarianism, architectural history etc.; decolonial approaches to architecture (including histories of land tenure, methods of redress);
● Bogeys and Bugbears – exploring the ‘bogey’ of the architectural historian and their institutions; the disciplinary construct of ‘architectural history’ and its sub-disciplines and correlates, namely heritage studies, construction history, and design history.

Submission Formats:

In their expression of interest, authors should clearly indicate which of the following formats they are submitting under and whether the submission will be in written and/or graphic form:
● Conventional Essays – 5,000-8,000 words (including all references and endnotes) – must demonstrate their intellectual and theoretical context, method and data, and have a clear conclusion.
● Projects / Personal Narratives – 3,000-5,000 words (including all references and endnotes) – substitute traditional “academic” data with descriptive and reflective content related to personal, educational experiences and/or projects. Narratives may include more images, diagrams, and illustrations.
● Freespace – 3,000-5,000 words (including all references and endnotes) – allows for authors to develop accessible, provocative, and/or polemical work which may be written or illustrated.
● Book Reviews – 1,000-3,000 words (including all references and endnotes) – examine a contemporary book that is relevant to the theme of this issue. Authors are encouraged to choose texts that have been published within the last five years.

Publication Timeline:

Queries regarding the theme of this special issue should be directed to the Guest Editors – Alan Chandler and Neal Shasore at AAEhistoryisntwhat@gmail.com.
500-word expressions of interest should be submitted in the body email, containing author name(s), affiliations and contact details to charrette@architecturaleducators.org according to the timeline below. Selected authors will then be invited to submit a full paper for double-blind peer review and editorial review.

● Call for contributions distributed: October 2022;
● Expressions of interest due: 7 December 2022 at 12:00GMT;
● Notification of selected contributions: December 2022;
● Submission of full contributions: 6 March 2023 at 12:00GMT;
● Notification to authors: May 2023;
● Collaborative editing process: June 2023;
● Publication Charrette 9(2): Autumn 2023.

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