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Given the wealth of new ways of conceptualizing building, its practice, and its meanings, this call for papers prompts authors to reconceptualize the notion of buildings’ functions in terms of use, particularly as is described in Wittgenstein’s use theory.

By engaging one of philosophy’s richest and most formidable postmodern thinkers -– Ludwig Wittgenstein – the discourse surrounding function can move away from architecture’s Modernist paradigm that has largely defined how we think about and deal with questions relating to function. Wittgenstein – who remains largely undealt with by the architectural discourse, but whose work has nevertheless had ample development from within the philosophical discourse – provides genuine contributions to the understanding of use and meaning. Specifically, the Wittgensteinian notion of meaning as use moves the discussion away from mechanical or systematic notions grounded in scientific enquiry, and instead focuses analysis on the particular context or language-game within which a building partakes. Thus, the hope is to utilize Ludwig Wittgenstein’s theory of meaning to achieve radically alternative analyses of building’s use, thereby allowing for productive re-engagement with one of architecture’s most fundamentally philosophical questions.


Lines of enquiry may include:

• Does a building mean in isolation from humans? Does a canonical building mean outside of its local socio-cultural context? Or does a building only mean within the architectural discourse that has canonized it?

• Within Wittgenstein’s use-theory, does the distinction between building and architecture exist? In which contexts, does this distinction hold meaning? Is the distinction still meaningful today?

• What is the use value of building in contemporary society? Are there new use values in building that suggest a shift in the trajectory of the building practice, of society, of culture?

• Does building itself challenge commonly accepted theories of meaning? Does building itself challenge commonly accepted readings of Wittgenstein’s use-theory? Are there specific instances in which building can be shown as revealing limitations in Wittgenstein’s theory of use?

• Does Wittgenstein’s use theory supplant notions of the symbolic? Or does it give symbolism renewed significance? How do different types of architectural symbolism figure in Wittgenstein’s use theory?

The symposium will take place between the 17th and 18th of August 2015 in the famous Wittgenstein house in Vienna, Austria. Given the unique and incredibly inspiring setting, space is limited.

Abstracts should be between 300 and 500 words. All submissions are due by 01 May 2015 submitted in RTF file format to Notification of acceptance will be by 01 June 2015.

Registration is 100 Euros for the 1.5 day symposium. Registration includes basic catering. Due to the size of the venue, space is limited and is expected to fill up quickly. Please plan to register well in advance of the event.





For questions regarding the symposium please contact the acting editor for the issue and event organizer, Dr. Carolyn Fahey at Refer to the ISPA website for the most up-to-date information regarding the event’s organization.

A selection of the papers will be published as a special issue in Architecture Philosophy. Symposium delegates who wish to be considered for inclusion in the special issue will be asked to submit papers between 5,000 and 7,000 words by 01 December 2015. More details regarding full paper submission will be provided at the time of the event. In the meantime, detailed submission instructions for Architecture Philosophy are available here.

Thank you kindly to the Bulgarian Cultural Institute (owners of the Wittgenstein House) for agreeing to host this event and to Radmila Schweitzer of the Wittgenstein Initiative for her organizational support.

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