CALL FOR PAPERS Infrastructure’s Domains

Infrastructure is undeniably political. Recent discussions about infrastructure—such as the widespread recognition of failing roads, bridges, water management, and power grids in the United States—demand a more developed understanding of infrastructure and its embeddedness in landscapes, aesthetic regimes, technologies, and governments. This conference aims to historicize and contextualize the relationship between architecture and infrastructure, as well as the ways that this relationship varies under public or private control.

In particular, the conference will probe the relationship between design and sovereignty in the spatial, sometimes architectural, manifestations of large bureaucratic and technological systems. At times, the design and aesthetics of infrastructure have been used to reinforce sovereignty, either forming territories through incompatible, proprietary systems or by easing the practice of governance. Similarly, the need to govern systems of infrastructure has led to new techniques of representation, from large-scale mapping to abstract functional diagrams. This conference will focus on the overlaps between infrastructure and representation, design, and aesthetics.

Infrastructure’s Domain will focus on the morphology of infrastructure—the forms and designs of fixed installations including industries, institutions, and distribution capabilities that serve society as a whole. More specifically, Infrastructure’s Domain will examine infrastructure from an architectural and urban perspective, asking: how do infrastructures affect cities? How can we learn to read architecture and urbanism within infrastructure’s domain?

Participants are invited to submit papers that address the following questions:
How has architecture responded to infrastructure? What has been the place of architecture in infrastructure’s domain and what role might it have in the future?
What techniques of representation have been instrumental in the design of infrastructure, and how has representation been used to manage, manipulate or market urban infrastructure?

In what ways have infrastructures, and the end-points or registers of their services, been aestheticized? How has design been used to domesticate technologies of infrastructure? When have technological infrastructures tried to mimic nature, or otherwise conceal their presence and power through design?

How have private systems functioned as shared—perhaps even public—infrastructure?

How have infrastructure systems made manifest or concealed inequality?
Do complex technological infrastructures imply a technocracy, and are experts necessary for their regulation and planning? When have designers developed this expertise, and when have they been excluded for lack of expertise? What is government’s responsibility for oversight?

How have specific urban environments responded to their transportation, information, or sanitary infrastructures?

Please submit abstracts of no more than 500 words with the title and participant’s name clearly identified along with a one-page CV to Please send documents as .doc or .rtf files with abstract and CV in a single file by July 31, 2009.