Architecture As Character

CAFx The Urban Yoga (c) Maja Flink

Architecture has different characters. It is nearly always a set assignment meant to achieve a specific goal and solve a particular task. Architecture is subject to functions, programs, financial frameworks, and regulatory restrictions – as well as other external requirements and expectations. But architecture is also part of our common cultural horizons. Good architecture may overcome restrictive external requirements and satisfy more interests than those which were initially sought. The design may serve additional purposes and be relevant in a wider than expected context. Even as a ruin.       

As a part of the city’s year as host of the European Capital of Culture, the Aarhus Architecture Festival (AAFx) conference, Architecture as Character, is envisioned to debate and reflect on how architectural character forms our culture, identity and awareness.

Architecture is not only rational and progressive, but also bears a cultural burden that helps shape its character. Architecture should not be reduced to urban scenography or historical testimony. It is a representation of civic pride, artistic ideas, political manifestos, and cultural narratives. Architecture is both the spirit of a place, the work of a professional artist, an exponent of local craft traditions, and a stimulation of senses. Architecture may become an identity of culture: it can be a brand, an architect, a place, a home, a neighborhood, or a city’s identity.

Contemporary architecture is not united or dominated by a particular “-ism” as it was during the postwar period. The pluralism and individuality that currently characterizes the architectural field may be the result of how the burdens of architecture – those restrictions that are intuitively demanded – are interpreted and weighted in different ways at local, national, and global scales. These differences in the perception of the burden(s) of architecture shape contemporary discourse and affect the character of architecture today.

At the conference you can meet a wide range of representatives of the various architectural perceptions. AAFX has invited the best and most innovative experts of architecture’s current discourses. You will meet architects, writers, artists, cultural critics, and other enthusiasts who perceive architecture as an artistic endeavour, as a cinematic medium, as a framework for social reform, as the expression of local identity, as a supplier of spaciousness & new forms, as consciousness, as an image of site, as a sensation, or as an aspiration for something better. In eight thematic plenum sessions, the various representatives will voice their concerns and present the best examples of the special role they believe architecture should play today.

Over the course of the two-day conference moderators Boris Brorman Jensen and Lisa Diedrich will put thematic presentations and session discussions into perspective: will the leading figures of architecture reconcile in a joint project; will architecture dissolve in pluralistic mosaic of parallel universes; or will architectural character be the property that  finally makes manifest the European Union as a co-existence, a co-presence of different cultures in time and space?

The sessions will focus on following topics:

Architecture as a provider of identity
Architecture as a gesture of generosity
Architecture as a cultural trajectory
Architecture as a cinematic matrix
Architecture as an instrument of welfare
Architecture as monumentality
Architecture as sensation
Architecture as aspiration – the Future Architecture Platform

The conference has been conceived by AAFx directors Mads Farsø and Josephine Michau and arranged with generous support from the Aarhus 2017 secretariat, the Danish Arts Foundation, the Swedish Agricultural University (SLU) Alnarp, the Aarhus School of Architecture, the Goethe Institute, and SNYK (the Danish centre for contemporary, experimental music and sound art).

Note: The conference will be held in English.