CFP: Representing Density: People, Buildings, and Media - deadline 17 March 2022

Nancy Stieber's picture
Call for Papers
March 17, 2022
Subject Fields: 
Architecture and Architectural History, Art, Art History & Visual Studies, Cultural History / Studies, Geography, Urban History / Studies

Representing Density: People, Buildings, and Media
Urban Representations Interest Group Workshop
European Architectural History Network 2022 Conference, Madrid
Wednesday 15 June, 2022

This year, the Urban Representations Interest Group plans a two-part workshop: a more formal part of ten minute
presentations on the topic of “Representing Density” in the morning; and a conversational part to
share work in progress and thoughts on current issues in the realm of urban representations in the

Urban and architectural representations can be understood as narrators of “density” by literally depicting
tight, overpopulated quarters, busy street life, or mapping packed grids of streets and squares. Some images
foment fears of the rapid spread of disease, of unhygienic housing conditions, or of disasters such as
earthquake, flood, or fire whether imminent, current, or past. Others invite us to cheer along with crowds
gathered for concerts, processions, sporting events or demonstrations, or symbolize modernity, luxury and
progress, emphasizing mass activity and movement (airports, seaside resorts, fairs and carnivals) against
the background of both ephemeral and monumental, and seemingly timeless buildings. Density in the city is
as much a physical matter as it is a social or human one and it is profoundly shaped by cultural context.
Images of urban density are at times decrying, at times jubilant. While in the modern age, crowded cities
are often seen as negative and are raised as spectre to promote sparsity as a design solution, the notion of
density itself is neutral rather than judgmental.

What kinds of questions can we pose surrounding the representation of density that would expose new
directions in research? How have urban representations (drawings, paintings, engravings, prints,
photographs, video, and film) operated to mediate experiences of density? How do they respond to urban
space or influence its design? How do they express attitudes of various stake-holders: citizens, visitors,
politicians, designers, planners, real estate developers? What techniques and perspectives have been used
and what has been the significance of various media in representing density? How do such representations
reflect the differing definitions of density in diverse cultures and historical periods?

The Urban Representations Interest Group is soliciting proposals for ten-minute presentations that both
address the representation of density as an architectural, social, cultural, economic or aesthetic issue and
also interpret the value judgements implied by those representations of density in the city. How are
differing attitudes toward density reflected in visual representations, whether in advertising, souvenirs,
planning documents, or other media?

Please send your proposal describing your topic and methodological approach (no more than 250 words
please) to ,,,
by March 17. We will announce the acceptance of workshop proposals by March 31.

While we don’t expect pre-submitted papers for accepted presentations, we ask that you come prepared to
not exceed the ten minute presentation time (a paper of ca. 5-page/double spaced/12p) in order to have
sufficient discussion time.

The workshop will be face-to-face but in the event that your university or country restricts travel, we
accommodate on-line participation. According to EAHN policy, conference fees have to be paid in full
regardless of how you participate and you should know that the conference as such is not going to be
offering access to virtual audiences. Information about fees can be found on the conference website, at the
Registration page:

Contact Info: 

Nancy Stieber

Professor Emerita

University of Massachusetts Boston

Contact Email: