Conference organisers: Dr. David H. Haney, Dr. Luciano Cardellicchio

Cultural landscape refers to landscapes shaped by humans through habitation, cultivation, exploitation and stewardship, and has influenced thinking in other fields, such as architecture. Generally, architecture has been subsumed within cultural landscape itself as a comprehensive spatial continuum. Yet standard architectural histories often analyse buildings as isolated objects, sometimes within the immediate context, but typically with minimal acknowledgement of wider spatial ramifications. However, buildings may become spatial generators, not only in the immediate vicinity, but also at larger geographic scales. ‘Buildings’ in this case include architectural works in the traditional sense, as well as roads, bridges, dams, industrial works, military installations, etc. Such structures have been grouped collectively to represent territories at varying scales.

In the context of this conference, the term ‘territories’ is appealed to rather than ‘landscape’, for the latter is associated with a given area of the earth’s surface, often aestheticized as a type of giant artefact. Territories by contrast are more abstract, and may even overlap. Discussions in this conference may consider varying territorial scale relationships, beginning with the building, moving to the regional, and even to the global. For example, at the level of architectural detailing, buildings may represent large-scale territories, or obscure others, themselves acting as media conveying messages. How tectonic-geographic relationships are represented may also be considered. Various media, primarily maps but also film and digital technologies have created mental images of territories established by buildings, and are all relevant to these discussions. Geopolitical analysis may provide another means towards understanding how architecture makes territories. Governments are often the primary agents, but not always, for religious and special interest groups have played central roles. Mass tourism and heritage management at national and international levels have reinforced, or contradicted, official government messages. Organisations dedicated to international building heritage, such as UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) also are implicated in such processes.

Paper proposals may cover anytime period, continuing into the present. Relevant proposals from all disciplines are welcomed.

Keynote Speaker Lectures

  • Professor Lucia Allais, Princeton University (US): ‘Maps of monuments and scales of design: Strategic bombing and the postwar international order’.
  • Professor Mark Bassin, Södertörn University (Stockholm): ‘Nature as State: Geopolitics and Landscape Monuments’.
  • Professor Kenny Cupers, University of Basel: ‘The Earth that Modernism Built’.
  • Professor Tullia Iori, The University of Rome Tor Vergata: ‘Engineering the Italian Landscape: the Autostrada del Sole as Territorial Construct for a New Post-War National Identity’.

Conference dates: 28th and 29th of June, 2018


  • Conference webpage address:
  • Paper abstracts: 150-200 words in length.
  • Paper abstract submission due date: 15th of January, 2018.
  • Paper selection announcement date: 31st of March, 2018.
  • Please send paper abstracts as a Word doc (without images): frombuildingtocontinent at 

Potential Paper Session Descriptions

Note: these are potential paper sessions, and are subject to change. Abstracts therefore need not address any particular session, these session descriptions are included for guidance only.

1) Mapping Architectural Territories

Illustrated maps depicting architectural objects as constituent elements of territories have a very long history. Such maps may be included within architectural and geographic analyses more generally. However, in this session the focus is particularly upon maps and other cartographic devices utilised to represent buildings as definers of territories in some way. Factors to consider include authorship, the client/agent, intent, audiences, techniques and iconography.

  • How may maps be read as iconic art works, or perhaps even as ‘paper’ architecture?
  • What are the significances of evolutions of the cartographic representations of architectural works over historical time?
  • Could narratives of the historical development of given territories be constructed through readings of pictorial maps?
  • How might new technologies such as GIS be employed in future to represent architecture at geographic scales, perhaps in relation to heritage interpretation?

2) Networks of Religious Buildings and Pilgrimage Routes

This session examines the multiple connections among religious buildings that were either built at the same time or were connected to form nodal points in broad geographical networks. From the church building campaigns of Early Byzantine Emperors to the Pilgrimage Churches of Romanesque France, and from the cathedrals of Norman Britain to today’s networks of ‘Cathedral cities’, religious buildings have often been conceived, designed, used, or even reinvented as parts of broader architectural groups. Other religions such as Buddhism and Islam also have conceived of religious buildings within geographic networks. Participants may choose to investigate religious networks at various scales, from any time period.

  • By what means were religious networks recorded and represented?
  • What possible roles did urban spaces play in the construction of networks of religious buildings?
  • In what ways did the exchange of architectural knowledge along pilgrimage routes affect religious building design and construction?
  • How may lost networks of religious buildings be reconstructed and interpreted?

3) Designing Geopolitics

Geopolitics was conceived at the turn of the twentieth century as a way to study the political effects of geography. Geopolitical thinkers such as Friedrich Ratzel or Halford Mackinder did not limit geography to soil, climate, or other qualities of the Earth itself; they also considered the ways in which industry, resource extraction, and the new technological possibilities of transportation and communication influenced the international system of states and their territorial configuration. In short, geopolitics was not just determined by physical geography, it was also a matter of design. With the rise of technological modernism and economic planning in the interwar period, geopolitics and design became ever more closely related. Telecommunications, ports, roads, and other public works—now understood as part of a new rubric called “infrastructure”—were recognized as central to the development of nations. Geopolitical thinking continued to shape sovereignty and subjectivity in the contexts of the Cold War and of decolonization, as infrastructure became the unquestioned material basis of nation-building and international development.

  • How can technological systems, whether applied to the modernization of agriculture or the governance of cities, be understood as designed interventions in political geography?
  • How has infrastructure building shaped the historical relationship between global North and global South?
  • How do the geopolitical and ideological dimensions of infrastructure impact the construction of political subjectivity?
  • What modes of being and seeing do such theoretical and material constructions produce?

4) Tectonic Landscapes as Architecture

Landscapes are typically perceived as a continuous textures, or as being synonymous with entire regions, but in relation to the establishment of territories, tectonic features such as peaks, waterfalls and plateaux often have been represented as natural ‘monuments’. So-called ‘natural bridges’ are a common manifestation of this process of turning the non-human into cultural symbols by formal analogy. In contrast to human-made structures, such landscape monuments additionally are associated with geological and natural history. The significance of these natural monuments also has been exploited as a means of reinforcing territorial or national identities, especially in countries without ancient architectural landmarks and ruins. Possible questions to address:

  • How have natural monuments been mapped collectively as a means of establishing particular territories, and are these always associated with states?
  • Through what processes have cultural attributes both been attached to, and removed from, natural features in order to create an allegedly unique territorial identity? How can natural landscapes be refracted through the prism of nationalism?
  • How have different artists working under different regimes, represented the same landscape features by different means to symbolise successive changes in political symbolism?

5) Military Structures and Territorial Strategies

By their very nature, military structures are conceived at territorial, geographic scales, for their purpose is either to defend or extend territorial domination and influence, in some cases at a global scale. Military architecture can include fortifications, transport and communication networks, bunkers, detention facilities, and even concentration camps. Many of these military sites are now places of memory, carrying with them a complex of cultural burdens. Facilities in use are generally off-limits, but even some disused sites are still closed to the public, and associated documents classified. Possible questions include:

  • Where does war ‘matter’? How does it quite literally ‘take place’?
  • What is the historical relationship between strategy and architecture, between the geopolitical map and the architectural blueprint?
  • Can the study of military landscapes add a vertical dimension to geopolitics, through analyses of bunkers, etc.?
  • How are memories evoked or challenged by the conservation and interpretation of sites with military and/or genocidal histories?

6) Construction, Materiality, Territory

Studies of construction history may uncover ways of seeing beyond buildings themselves, and lead to analyses of intangible ramifications that contribute to the ‘making’ of architecture. Less visible aspects, such as labour, engineering calculations, embodied energy, and construction detailing may be understood as extending the physical boundaries of a structure, rooting and linking the single architectural object within near or distant territories, often crossing national boundaries. From the contributions of Italian bricklayers to the construction of the Polish city of New Zamość by Bernardo Morando in the 1580, to the use of a German formwork in the construction of the National Museum of the XXI Century Arts in Rome by Zaha Hadid (2009), this session aims to map and investigate geographic relationships between construction, national identities and territories.

  • What is the geographic significance of the construction of a building/monument in relationship to territory?
  • How did energy availability affect the use of territorial resources and the adoption of specific construction techniques?
  • How may national origins of labour and materials offer different means of understanding buildings at territorial scales?