Call for Papers: Architecture of Performance Buildings, 1900-2000

Architecture of Performance Buildings for Drama and Music, 1900-2000

This conference, organised by the Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain, will be held at the University of Cambridge Department of Architecture  on the 28th  April 2012. The call for papers deadline (see more below) is the 1st October 2011.

Architecture and performance have long been considered related arts. For example, scholars have considered the ‘theatrical’ nature of such buildings as Hawksmoor’s London churches. And yet the design of buildings for music and theatre has often been a problematic experience. Sir Richard Eyre famously had a difficult relationship with Sir Denys Lasdun, architect of the National Theatre, London, with Lasdun vocally resisting attempts by Eyre to ‘make the building into a theatre.’ The twentieth century, in particular, saw an increasingly diverse set of answers to the question ‘what makes a performance space?’ Those commissioning buildings did so for various reasons: as new homes for established organisations; to act as new civic foci; to disseminate particular visions of ‘culture’. New ideas of performance, of the role of performance in society, and in the kind of work being presented, suggested new approaches to and understandings of the buildings and spaces in which performance was staged. Architects and designers operated within a broad framework of theoretical discourse and international influences.

This Symposium will bring together scholars from a variety of backgrounds to consider buildings and spaces designed for performance in the twentieth century. Historians of architecture and performance are invited to consider such questions as: how developments in drama and performance affected architecture and public space; how visions of performance and its role (whether conscious or unconscious) were given built form; how buildings for performance were received and used; how practitioners worked with architects and designers to realise their ideas; how performance buildings are adapted and conserved; how ideas were disseminated internationally and their influence. Papers examining developments in continental Europe and beyond are welcome and it is hoped that the day will allow ideas and developments in different places to be compared and contrasted.

Abstracts for papers of c. 40-45 minutes should be e-mailed in the first instance to Dr Alistair Fair,, by 1 October 2011. Proposals will be reviewed and successful authors will be notified during November 2011. Speakers’ reasonable UK travel expenses will be reimbursed.

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