The Tools of the Architect

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Call for Papers
May 15, 2017
Subject Fields: 
Architecture and Architectural History, History of Science, Medicine, and Technology, Area Studies, Art, Art History & Visual Studies

CALL FOR PAPERS / EAHN European Architectural History Network

International Thematic Conference

"The Tools of the Architect"

22 – 24 November 2017 / TU Delft and Het Nieuwe Instituut Rotterdam, The Netherlands


The European Architectural History Network (EAHN) is pleased to announce the EAHN’s fifth thematic conference The Tools of the Architect, to be held at Delft University of Technology and Het Nieuwe Instituut HNI (Delft and Rotterdam, The Netherlands) on 22 – 24 November 2017.

Architects have for their activities of drawing, writing and building always depended upon the potential of particular tools –ranging from practical instruments such as straight edges, French curves, compasses, rulers and pencils to conceptual tools such as working drawings, collages, photographic surveys, infographics, diagrams, casts and mass models.

As technologies advanced the toolbox of architects has changed and expanded. Today architects have an extraordinary array of sophisticated tools at their disposal but also rely on many of same tools as their 18th and 19th century peers. Working drawings, pencils and tracing paper continue to appear in the designer’s studio while their role and potential is being redefined.

Time and time again, architects have engaged with new tools. The quest to find the most appropriate and adequate tools to articulate, test and communicate design ideas has never ended, and in this pursuit architects have appropriated tools from other disciplines, such as art, historiography, sociology, philosophy, computer sciences and engineering. Out of this perspective the tools of the architect have become a field of intense exploration of the encounter of architecture with other disciplinary perspectives.

Inventions and innovations of tools throughout history have not only provided better answers to questions of analyzing and representing the built environment, but they have also pointed to new ways of conceiving and intervening. Ellipsographs made it possible to precisely draw an elliptical space in the 19th century and computer-aided drafting software has allowed for a new conception and construction of complex geometries in the 20th and 21st century. New tools have continuously affected the imagination, character and qualities of architectural projects.

This conference wants to focus on the changing practical and conceptual tools of the architect and their effect on the logos and praxis of architecture. The conference will be structured along three thematic lines:

1. The Instruments of the Architect  (i.e. the apparata and equipment of the architect)

2. The Tools of Analysis (i.e. the devices to study architecture and the built environment in general)

3. The Tools of Intervention (i.e. the devices to intervene in the built environment)

We welcome papers that consider the tools of the architect from this threefold perspective. Papers should be based on well-documented research that is primarily analytical and interpretative rather than descriptive in nature.

Abstracts (of 500 words) can be registered and uploaded on

Abstract submission deadline: 15 May 2017


Time Frame

15 May 2017: Deadline Submission of abstracts

15 June 2017: Notification of Acceptance

1 September 2017: Full papers


Conference Chairs

Tom Avermaete, Delft University of Technology

Merlijn Hurx, Utrecht University


Organising Committee

Carola Hein, Delft University of Technology

Marie-Terese van Thoor, Delft University of Technology

Koen Ottenheym, Utrecht University

Petra Brouwer, University of Amsterdam

Dirk van den Heuvel, Jaap Bakema Study Centre/ Het Nieuwe Instituut


Keynote speakers

Mari Lending (professor of architectural theory and history, Oslo School of Architecture and Design/ OCCAS: the Oslo Center for Critical Architectural Studies)

Michiel Riedijk (professor at Chair of Public Building, Delft University of Technology/ Neutelings Riedijk Architects, Rotterdam)

Third Keynote speaker, tbc

Location and Dates

TU Delft and HNI, Rotterdam, The Netherlands/ 22 – 24 November 2017

Scientific Committee

Tom Avermaete, Delft University of Technology

Merlijn Hurx, Utrecht University

Alona Nitzan-Shiftan, Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa

Maristella Casciatio, Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles

Anthony Gerbino, University of Manchester

Sebastian Fitzner, Freie Universität Berlin

Wolfgang Lefevre, Max Planck Institute, Berlin

More info