Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain (SAHGB) Conference 2022

  • Boyd, G. A. (Chair)
  • Richard Brook (Chair)
  • Luca Csepely Knorr (Chair)
  • Karin Elliot (Chair)

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in conference


Co-hosted by Queen’s University Belfast and Manchester School of Architecture

Conference panels chaired by Professor Gary Boyd, Dr Karin Elliott, Professor Richard Brook and Dr Luca Csepely-Knorr

The architecture of borderlands is often unique to itself. This is because borderlands often belong to nobody, as was the case in for instance the English/Scottish ‘marches’. Borders can delineate physical geographies, as in the Pyrenees which separate France from Spain, or political lines, such as the 49th Parallel which separates the United States from Canada. Each condition often generates architectures of its own, whether for instance ski resorts in the French/Italian Alps or British Army/RUC checkpoints between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Walls and other physical barriers between one country and another, as in Berlin, or between one community and another, as in Jerusalem or Belfast, have received much critical attention from architectural historians and the political and social significance of these border manifestations is widely recognised. Proposed papers for the conference might address such physical structures – walls, watchtowers, bridges and so on – however, it is not only these to which this conference is addressed. Here we also wish scholars to consider individual buildings, complexes of buildings, or designed landscapes, which are a direct response to their physical location or their political role within a borderland. Architecture that exhibits commonality or neutrality, dependent upon its situation and context – buffer zones, no-mans-lands, and transitional spaces have spawned a range of programmes that facilitate either community interaction and cross cultural dialogue or conflict, smuggling, escapes, rituals, parades, performances, protests and other kinds of border events.

Papers are thus invited which consider the borderland architecture of any country or countries, of any period and of any style, in ways that are seen as positive or negative - or both. Papers should identify what is specific, in their subject, to the borderland in question, whether in response to its site, its political condition, or other factors. Papers may challenge or critique understandings of identity, topography, carceral geographies, territorialisation, representation, bordering, de-bordering and re-bordering. These questions are among those that papers might address:

What is the impact of landscape and topography on border architecture, historically?
How have border territories, landscapes, languages, identities and concepts of nationhood affected architectural design strategies, architectural histories and spaces of representation?
How have carceral geographies and other spaces for cultural exchange become manifest physically in borderlands?
What have the architectures of borderlands communicated about the societies they serve or exclude?
In the creation of urban borders, land and sea borders, aerial territories of restriction, economic borders, or invisible spaces of containment, how have such borders affected both public and private architectural spaces?
From the Great Wall of China to the Iron Curtain in Europe or now the Separation Wall in Israel/Palestine, from divided cities to intercontinental boundaries, how have border architectures reified significant geo-political, architectural and historical terrains of cultural separation?
The examples given here are illustrative rather than restrictive. As well as 20 minute papers, we welcome proposals for discursive formats – dialogues or full round table sessions. The conference will be composed of 4 x 1 ½ hour sessions over two afternoons with an attendant keynote presentation.
Period16 May 202220 May 2022
Event typeConference
LocationBelfast Manchester, United KingdomShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational