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UT Austin’s School of Architecture To Host “The Secret Life of Buildings” Symposium

The School of Architecture at UT Austin will host a four-day symposium called “The Secret Life of Buildings.”

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AUSTIN, Texas — The School of Architecture at The University of Texas at Austin will host a four-day symposium called “The Secret Life of Buildings,” which will explore theories that imagine buildings and the things in and around them not only promote human life, but have lives of their own, separate from our experience of them.

The event, organized by the Center for American Architecture and Design, will be held Oct. 19-22 on the UT Austin campus and will cover emerging theories such as Speculative Realism and Object Oriented Ontology (OOO). It marks the first time the leaders of this exciting new realm of critical thought will gather to consider the architecture topic.

What happens within a building when we are not there? How does a building relate to the objects within it? How does it relate to other buildings around it? If buildings are actors, what networks are they acting in? What do they keep to themselves, apart from all contact? These are just a few of the questions that the symposium will seek to address. Attendees will also investigate what implications, if any, these theories have for architects and designers of the built environment.

On his website, Ian Bogost, a philosopher, author, game designer and one of the panelists at the symposium, defines OOO as the branch of philosophy that “steers a path between scientific naturalism and social relativism, drawing attention to things at all scales (from atoms to alpacas, bits to blinis), and pondering their nature and relations with one another as much with ourselves.”

Symposium speakers include:

  • Graham Harman, philosopher of the American University in Cairo and SCI-Arc and founder of Object Oriented Ontology
  • Albena Yaneva, architect and theorist at the University of Manchester
  • Jorge Otero-Pailos, architect and theorist at Columbia University
  • Michael Benedikt, architect and theorist at UT Austin

Other prominent thinkers and practitioners participating include Levi Bryant, Timothy Morton, Craig Dykers, Ian Bogost, Matthew B. Crawford and UT faculty co-organizer Kory Bieg.

The symposium will be accompanied by an exhibition called “Objects.” Composed of the top 15 entries of an international design competition, judged by Winka Dubbeldam and Leslie Van Duzer and others, the presentation will feature works that examine the ideas of Object Oriented Ontology and Speculative Realism through the design of singular, tangible things: objects. These will be installed in and around Goldsmith Hall at the School of Architecture.

A schedule of speakers and event information on the conference is available here. All events are free and open to the public until full. The “Objects” exhibition is on view Oct. 17-31.