With the main theme “History of Construction Cultures”, the Congress will provide an opportunity to celebrate and expand our understanding of the ways that everyday building activities have been perceived and experienced in different cultures, times and places. The study of construction cultures entails the analysis of the transformation of a community’s knowledge capital expressed in the activity of construction. As such, construction history is a broad field of knowledge that encompasses all of the actors involved in that activity: collective actors (contractors, materials producers and suppliers, schools, associations, and institutions) and individual actors (engineers, architects, entrepreneurs, craftsmen).

In each given location and historical period, these actors build using particular technologies, tools, machines, and materials. They follow specific rules and laws, and they transfer knowledge on construction in a certain way. Their activity has an economic value and belongs to a particular economic context, and they organize themselves following a set of social and cultural models.

Within this main theme, the Congress will focus on the history of building construction, and although a cross-over into other disciplines is strongly encouraged, the Congress will not accept papers that focus solely on the history of technology, architectural history, architectural theory or conservation and repair. A broad range of topics will be debated during the Congress, with general open sessions as well as special thematic sessions. Open sessions cover a wide variety of topics related to all aspects of Construction History.

Thematic sessions were selected after a call for proposals: they highlight themes of recent debate, approaches and directions in construction history research, fostering transnational and interdisciplinary collaboration on promising and propitious subjects.


In the open sessions, the following topics will be discussed:

OT1. The discipline of Construction History (e.g. epistemological issues, methodology; teaching; historiography; sources on construction history);

OT2. Building actors (e.g. contractors; architects, engineers; master builders, craftspeople, trade unions and guilds; institutions and organizations);

OT3. Building materials: their history, extraction, transformation and manipulation (e.g. timber; earth, brick and tiles; iron and steel; binders; concrete and reinforced concrete; plaster and mortar; glass and glazing; composite materials);

OT4. Building machines, tools and equipment: (e.g. simple machines, steam operated-machines, hand tools, pneumatic tools, scaffolding);

OT5. Construction processes (e.g. design, execution and protective operations related with durability and maintenance; organization of the construction site; prefabrication and industrialization; craftsmanship and workshops; foundations, superstructures, roofs, coatings, paint);

OT6. Building services and techniques (e.g. lighting; heating; ventilation; health and comfort);

OT7. Structural theory and analysis (e.g. stereotomy; modelling and simulation; structural theory and structural forms; applied sciences; relation between theory and practice);

OT8. Political, social and economic aspects (e.g. economics of construction; law and juridical aspects; politics and policies; hierarchy of actors; public works and territory management, marketing and propaganda);

OT9. Knowledge transfer (e.g. technical literature, rules and standards; building regulations; training and education; drawings; patents; scientific dissemination, innovations, experiments and events);

OT10. Cultural translation of construction cultures (e.g. colonial building processes and autochthonous cultures; hybridization of construction cultures, local interpretation of imported cultures of building; adaptation of building processes to different material conditions).

Papers may cover any time period (from ancient times to the 20th century), have any geographical scope (local to intercontinental) and discuss any type of buildings and structures (e.g. vaults; shells; spatial structures; trusses; bridges; industrial buildings; residential buildings; public buildings; religious buildings; stadiums and pavilions; military constructions; infrastructure and public works).

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In parallel with the open sessions, there will be thematic sessions. The call for thematic sessions, received a significant number of proposals from senior and young researchers coming from all over the world (New Zealand, Australia, China, Mexico, Canada, Germany, Spain, France, Portugal, United Kingdom, Belgium, Russia and Switzerland) aiming to cover important problematics, historical periods and different regions of the globe. Themes have been suggested by the session chairs, who share the scientific responsibility for these sessions with the Scientific Committee.

TS1. Construction cultures of the recent past. Building materials and building techniques 1950-2000 Stephanie Van de Voorde and Ine Wouters

TS2. Historical timber constructions between regional tradition ad supra-regional influences Clemens Knobling

TS3. South-South Cooperation and Non-Alignment in the Construction world, 1950-1980s Amit Srivastava, Peter Scriver and Ljubica Spaskovska

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