Benutzerspezifische Werkzeuge


erstellt von Karl R. Kegler zuletzt verändert: 02.02.2023 19:07

Call for Papers: archimaera #11: APPROPRIATENESS / DECORUM

(Lesen Sie den Call for Papers auf Deutsch)

When conceiving buildings, architects are faced with the challenge of reconciling numerous and sometimes contradictory interests. It is both their task and art to weigh the individual concerns against each other and develop a project that strikes the right balance. When placing a new building on a site, they have to take into account the locality's climatic conditions and topography as well as its urban, social and architectural contexts. When designing the building's shape, architects must ask themselves how they can meet economic and functional requirements, select the right building material, conceive a suitable structure and satisfy their aesthetic aspirations and the client's desire for representation.

Since antiquity, the term and trope of decorum has addressed the complexity of architectural endeavours. Decorum derives from the Latin verb decere, which carries ambivalent meanings. It can be translated to 'to adorn, grace or dress' as well as to 'be decorous, proper or decent'. As a key term in the history of architecture, decorum refers to the appropriate relationship between form and content and eventually enables the architect to bring the various categories and requirements – firmitas, utilitias, venustas – into a meaningful relationship.

It was Vitruvius who first adopted the term for architecture and at the same time defined its meanings and connotations. Since the times of Vitruvius, the ideal of decorum has had a significant impact on the history of Western architecture right up to the present day. However, the understanding of decorum has changed over the past centuries. For Renaissance and Baroque architects, decorum provided a universal criterion for evaluating their designs. The rhetorically erudite humanist Leon Battista Alberti was the first to recall the ancient concept of decorum in his work De re aedificatoria. In the sixteenth century, Sebastiano Serlio elaborated on Alberti's theorem. He systematically arranged the five orders into a hierarchy and determined iconographic and contextual connotations for each of them. Architects of the nineteenth century embraced the idea of a 'speaking architecture', albeit starting from quite different premises and with a clear conceptual turn that eventually led to modernism. The form of a building was understood as the “manifestation of an idea” (Semper) and was to be in line with the purpose, construction and expression of a building. Even the functional aesthetics of the early twentieth century can be linked to the early-modern categories of decorum by reading Henry Van de Velde's proclamation that “a building and its external gestalt ought to be appropriate to its very purpose and natural form”.

Today, against the background of climate change, limited resources and the energy crisis, the building sector faces new challenges, and it is therefore necessary to re-evaluate the meaning of decorum for contemporary architecture. archimaera thus invites architects, preservationists and architectural historians as well as theorists to explore the topos of decorum. We would be particularly pleased to receive not only scholarly papers, but also artistic contributions that provide new insights into our topic. With our new issue of archimaera, we would also like to ask whether there is a lack of discourse on appropriateness in architecture today. If so, how might we redefine decorum in a more contemporary understanding? Could newer design strategies such as the conscious and creative discontinuation of common building practices or the call for a moratorium on the demolition of buildings serve as starting points, considering that both emphasise the aspect of sufficiency, which is already embodied in the general idea of decorum? Could the ideal of decorum inform the ongoing development of an architectural aesthetics of sustainability and re-use? And how might one tie in with social and ethical-moral standards already addressed by the ideal of decorum, such as consideration of an appropriate relationship between public and private life, and the virtue of community in architecture? What practical guidelines do we need to establish in order to arrive at an appropriate handling of our limited resources? Do these guidelines need to be universally binding or are exemptions necessary? Do we face our current crises with new technologies or do we need to propagate future-oriented low-tech solutions? Do we need to change architecture or our lifestyle? Not least, we need to ask ourselves whether we only need to change some technical details of our buildings or whether we have to fundamentally rethink architecture by recognising the necessity of a new conduct to which there are no alternatives.


Please send your proposals as an exposĂ© of max. 2.500 characters or as a sample of work to archimaera by 01 March 2023:


The editorial board will evaluate submitted proposals until 18 March 2023. Accepted exposés have to be submitted as full papers by 11 June 2023.

Please follow the guidelines of archimaera


01 March 2023 (ExposĂ©s)  
11 June  2023 (Full Papers)