Now we are at home. But home does not preexist: it was necessary to draw a circle around that uncertain and fragile center, to organize a limited place. Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari
The XXIst annual conference of SAHANZ calls for papers addressing the theme of ‘LIMITS’. A limit can be considered a decisive line of demarcation, a threshold where different conditions meet, or a boundary that may be approached, crossed or exceeded. Architecture is an art that operates within and responds to key nominated or historically situated limits and constraints. It is also a professionally bounded discipline that necessarily interfaces with a range of other fields of knowledge. Here we are concerned with identifying and investigating the plurality of different, often competing limits with which the discipline of architecture contends.
By identifying and questioning its limits, the discipline of architecture defines itself historically, theoretically, technically, culturally, and politically. What are the implications of the limits that have been placed historically on the role of the architect as artist, technician, thinker, and/or maker? How might the discipline of architecture reconsider its historical, current, and future formulations?
Architectural history, for instance, can be framed through a consideration of the practices architects have employed to respond to nominated or given limits and constraints. The status of constraining limits has shifted historically, from the unavoidable limits of distance and resource in the colonial period, to the imposed limits of modernism and rationalism. Different approaches to the constitutive possibilities of the limit as a contemporary concern are offered by engagement with the minimal as an aesthetic condition, with urban strategies for responding to situated limits and constraints, and with the supposedly limitless bounty of emerging technologies.
The particular geo-political situation of Australia and New Zealand at the edge of Asia and the Pacific demands the exploration of other kinds of cultural limits in post-colonial, migrant, indigenous and bi-cultural scholarship. The limit is especially topical at the present socio-political juncture. It marks the material coastline as an exclusionary border-limit to refugees and undesirable others. In the emerging post-industrial economy, the pervasive pressures of global media, capital and culture, cross national borders and redefine regional relationships.
This years SAHANZ forum registers the crossing of a culturally significant threshold. It is our 21st. This offers a timely opportunity for celebration, critical reflection, and the consideration of future aspirations. The figure of the limit, with its various allusions to thresholds, constraints, frameworks, boundaries, borderlines, betweeness, otherness, abjection, interruption, difference, liminality, the sublime, and so forth, defines the locus of many potential questions for the discipline of architecture. This conference is concerned less with these as problems in a negative sense, than with the affirmative limit, the line in the sand that can be forever redrawn.
Melbourne Australia: RMIT University , 2004.