Aesthetics is often taken as dealing with questions of mere beauty. Yet, any serious aesthetician will contest this saying something along the lines of ‘aesthetics is everything’. The sense that aesthetics is concerned only with the characteristics and qualities of beauty is a remnant of Kantian aesthetics and his concept of disinterestedness. Indeed Kant radically changed the course of the aesthetic discourse, of even the course of art’s discourse. His work and its many interpretations is so ingrained in our contemporary mind sets that many would happily use the word aesthetic interchangeably with the words beauty and favourable. Someone might explain their liking the look of a particular object on the basis of its ‘aesthetics’. Taking on a primarily visual and sometimes sensual view of the aesthetic leads to such hairsplitting debates as ‘what is art?’ Those of this mind-set typically take architecture as an art, and dismiss the subject seeing the arts debates as suitably covering the topic of architecture.

But a Wittgensteinian aesthetic is not merely visual and it is not something that we must categorically take as favourable. His description of aesthetics speaks more to the rules and reasons of everyday day life and our finding something agreeable speaks to how fitting our experiences fit into – often favourably – into these rules and reasons. As such, architecture cannot be reduced to another of the arts as its rules and reasons are not just different but dramatically different. Understanding architecture as an aesthetic activity in its own right – one that ought not be reduced to an art – requires an entirely new investigation. This is the point of provocation for the upcoming aesthetics of architecture conference.

Calling both philosophers and architects to grapple with questions regarding the aesthetic qualities of architecture and the built environment, the hope is to propel the philosophical discourse beyond the limitations a singular Kantian derived view. Such questions might include:

  • what is architecture?
  • cultural role of architecture
  • appreciation of architecture
  • idealism in architecture discourse
  • essentialism in architecture discourse
  • what is tradition and what is its role in architecture?
  • what is innovation in architecture?
  • what is improvisation?

Paper abstracts, panel proposals and poster abstracts are welcomed. Please see the submission guidelines link on the top right of this website for more information regarding each. All submissions should be sent to and any further queries regarding this call should be directed to isparchitecture@googlemail.com.

Paper Abstracts should be no longer than 500 words and should address one of the above or related topics. Candidates of successful abstracts will be given an opportunity to speak at the conference. The slots will be 20 minutes long with 20 minutes for questions. There will also be an invitation to submit full papers for publication in an edited volume by Routledge. Full articles of 6-7,000 words must be submitted by the 1st of September 2012 for consideration in the volume.

Panel Proposals should be 1000-2000 words in length. Proposals dealing with philosophy in the professional practice of architecture, planning and landscape are particularly welcome. This might for instance deal with a particularly philosophy regarding professional practice or specific ethical questions practitioners must deal with in professional practice.

Poster Abstracts should be no longer than 500 words. These posters are particularly welcomed from practitioners and MPhil students. If the abstract is accepted, the society asks that the poster be A1 size and landscape oriented. There are printing facilities in the University library if needed, as well as numerous throughout the city.