Ultra: Positions and Polarities beyond Crisis

November 10 to November 13, 2021

38th conference
Michaelmore, Roeger & Russell, Chester House, Belair 1966, State Library of South Australia BRG 346/28/6/2.

38th Annual Conference of the Society of Architectural Historians, Australia and New Zealand

Hosted by the University of Adelaide, School of Architecture and Built Environment, Faculty of Engineering, Computer and Mathematical Sciences, and convened by James Curry and David Kroll. Click here for the conference’s website.

Ultra: Positions and Polarities beyond Crisis

On the far side or beyond a limit, the term ‘ultra’ invokes an intensity of experience or conviction that falls outside the usual, the ordinary or the moderate; an attitude, stance, or position that may arise as much from emotion as it is informed by reason, particularly in moments of crisis when normality ceases to hold.

In the writing of architectural history extreme positions tend to suspend or stand outside the critical norms of the disciplinein which, arguably, the cautious discerning of significance isthe default practice. Positive can become ultra-positive as careful empirical observation and critical argumentation are transcended by the rhetoric of celebration. Commemoration,on the other hand, can evoke comparable rhetorical excess where the end of a golden era, for example, or the loss of a distinctive regional architecture or construction traditionbecome the focus of ultra-sad lamentation, or ultra-criticalclaims of abject failure where once dominant narratives no longer appear to sustain belief or explanatory power.

Operating as both a polemic and a call for insightful newinquiry into the discipline through which we think, Ultrainvites participants to reflect upon the polarities of architectural discourse as well as the spectrum of positions between these. What are the implications of crises, past and present, in framing (or re-framing) the critical perspectives that architectural historiography may offer beyond such moments of confusion and/or extraordinary conviction? The conference seeks broad ranging responses to this question and its theme that will reflect on-going work in several established and developing areas of current SAHANZ scholarship.

What was ‘ultra’, for example, in the design and discursive promotion of Local and Regional Modernisms, and when, if ever, did they become normal? Ultra invites papers in this stream that explore different narratives of modernity in different localities of Australasia, Asia and the Pacific. In the light of a rapidly globalising world and its culture wars, uncritical celebration of regionalisms and their architecturescan become problematic, while their disappearance may be lamented. A topical context for such discussion will be a parallel exhibition on the photographs of Adelaide architect John Chappel and his critical advocacy in the 1950s and 60s for the now little-remembered buildings and designers of South Australia’s post-war modernist movement.

In the stream of Construction History Ultra solicits empirically, critically and/or historiographically oriented papers that interpret architectural production as part of the larger political economy and cultural field of construction. Proposals could reflect the theme from a variety of different positions and perspectives ranging, for example,from the celebration of novel construction techniques, to themelancholy that may attend the loss of a building tradition. Aligning with another parallel exhibition event that will explore the integral role of post-war Italian migration on the South Australian concrete industry, proposals to examineother narratives of the impact of global crises on local Australasian construction trades and industries and/or their patronage in new classes of home-buyers, property developers and design-builders will be particularly welcome.

Reflecting further upon the value and the agency of our intellectual labour and our design discipline in the context of the present pandemic, and concurrent environmental, politicaland social crises, the conference aspires to bring together academics and practitioners to explore the tensions between opposing positions, emotional states and modes of thought, along with approaches outside these implied polarities. In athird thematic sub-stream focusing broadly on Design Practice and Education Ultra therefore solicits submissions exploring perspectives and positions where Architectural History elides with design research and other sub-fields such as creative practice, sustainable architecture, technology and urban design. Papers may, for example, address the agency of historical research in architectural practice, or focus on questions of authorship or histories of practitioners that challenge established power relationships and hierarchies.Contributions might also re-visit the crisis of Theory a generation ago and its impact on Architectural History with the critical turn away from celebratory modes of teaching; or its parallel impact on developments in architectural conservation theory and practice.

Anticipating a return to a convivial conclave in real space and time, the Adelaide 2021 SAHANZ conference also invites fresh reflection upon the conventions and untapped potentialities of the institution of our annual academic conference itself.  In addition to abstracts directed at the theme and sub-streams outlined above, proposals are also invited for open session papers as well as roundtables, webinars, and other novel modes of engagement that may challenge and enhance the established conference format.


Abstracts for Papers

Abstracts for papers may address any aspect of the Conference theme, or nominate to be included in an open session. ABSTRACTS are to be submitted no later than Monday 8 March 2021 via email to adelaide@sahanz2021.com.

Please use the email subject PAPER-SURNAME and use this to name your submission file as well.

Proposals should be submitted as a two-page Word document (.docx) including the following information:

• Page 1: Cover page listing:

• ‘Proposal for Paper: Title’

• Author Name/s and affiliation/s (including 100-word biographical notes)

• Page 2: Proposal including:

• ‘Proposal for Paper: Title’

• An abstract of no more than 300 words

• Please do not include author identification on this page

Once accepted, authors will be invited to prepare a full paper (no longer than 4,500 words in written form) which will be subject to peer review.

Proposals for Round Table Sessions

We invite proposals for Round Table discussions responding to the Conference provocation and aimed at facilitating future collaborations and publications. PROPOSALS for ROUND TABLE sessions related to the conference topics are to be submitted no later than Monday 8 March 2021 via email to adelaide@sahanz2021.com.

Please use the email subject ROUNDTABLE-SURNAME and use this to name your submission file as well.

Proposals should be submitted as a two-page Word document (.docx) including the following information:

• Page 1: Cover page listing

• ‘Proposal for Round Table: Title’

• Name/s and affiliation/s of the Round Table Chair/s (including 100-word biographical notes)

• Names and affiliations of all Round Table panel members. It is expected that a panel will comprise between 3 and 5 members in addition to the Chair/s.

• Page 2: Proposal including:

• ‘Proposal for Round Table: Title’

• An abstract of no more than 300 words

• Please do not include author identification on this page.

Abstracts and Round Table proposals submitted for review

Abstracts and Round Table proposals will be blind reviewed by at least two members of the Conference Academic Committee. Full papers (4500 words including Notes) will be blind peer reviewed and authors will be notified of acceptance. The Proceedings will include papers presented at the conference. Authors may elect to not have their papers included. The Proceedings will contain abstracts of all papers presented at the conference, thereby forming a record of the event.

For inclusion in the Proceedings, a paper must be presented in either physical or virtual mode at the conference. Authors may only present one paper as a sole author, although they may present one additional paper as a co-author. All papers presented are to be accompanied by a unique conference registration – where a sole author of one paper is also the co-author of a second, the other co-author is required to register.

Work submitted for review and publication in the Conference Proceedings should be original research that has not been previously published elsewhere, or work that has undergone substantial development from a prior publication.


Kate Hislop (UWA)

Julia Gatley (U.Auckland)

Paul Walker (U.Melbourne)

Peter Scriver (U.Adelaide)

Amit Srivastava (U.Adelaide)

Katharine Bartsch (U.Adelaide)

John Ting (U.Canberra)

Macarena de la Vega de Leon (U.Melbourne)

Maryam Gusheh (Monash)

The 38th SAHANZ Conference will be held 10-13 November 2021 in Adelaide, Australia, and online.


SAHANZ conference proceedings are subject to copyright protections. Please read the Disclaimer and Copyright Notice.