1945-1975: British Culture for Architecture-Call for Proposals

The Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA) in Montreal is launching a multidisciplinary research program on the social, economic and technological shifts that took place in Britain in the period 1945-1975 and, specifically, how these transformations and reform efforts were registered through culture. The CCA invites researchers or practitioners from any relevant cultural discipline to propose papers fitting this topic for a working seminar to be held in Montreal in April 2014. The seminar will be the first phase of an 18-month research program generously supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

This initiative is suggested in part by the CCA’s extensive holdings of work by the British architect Cedric Price, whose provocative proposals during those years represent one example of how architecture might envision, and even prompt, a transformed society. The theme recognizes that the optimism and fascination with social responsibility that nourished the work of British architects after wartime devastation are valuable examples for the shaping of society today. The social-democratic stamp of those years accompanied the belief that social order and human behaviour should encompass culture as well as leisure and education, issues that are emerging as priorities in contemporary society and the planning of the built environment.

Through this research program and the discussions it cultivates, the CCA hopes to establish a deeper base for contextualizing Price’s outputs. Its wider agenda, however, is to enact a new method of multidisciplinary historiography that explores the relationship between societal change and cultural production, a historiography through which architecture’s contributions to culture and interactions with other disciplines may be more meaningfully understood.

Given the seminar’s aim to attract participants from a variety of backgrounds, papers could engage with architectural discourse from points of departure in other fields or investigate other issues related to culture in Britain during the period 19450-1975, such as: distinctions between high and low (or mass) culture in the context of the welfare state, and the emergence of counterculture positions; the emergence of new media and artistic expressions and the dissemination of ideas related to social transformation; the development of new mechanisms or spaces for engaging in cultural or leisure activity; literacy and/or education and their relationship to culture; links between culture and advancing forms of techno-scientific knowledge; the relationship between the reordering of culture and cultural consumption; the standardization or individualization of culture and their relationship to economic factors; cultural critiques of social and economic policy; the influence of immigration and demographic changes on the forms and content of culture; and relationships between culture and housing, health care or higher education.

Applicants should submit a 500-word abstract, a short bibliography and a CV to the CCA by Monday, February 17, 2014. Papers cannot have been previously published or presented in public.

Submissions should be made in English or French and be sent through the CCA application portal at http://form.jotform.ca/form/33114531291242. Documents faxed, mailed or sent via electronic mail will not be accepted.  

A committee consisting of an external expert and the CCA Curatorial Committee will select proposals to be developed into papers for presentation in Spring 2014. Seminar participants will be notified by early March. Official languages for presentations at the seminar are English and French.

For further information on the seminar and the development of this research project, please visit the CCA website: www.cca.qc.ca