new project — architectural worlds

I am currently working as an editor at Architectural Worlds, the journal of the Shenzhen University School of Architecture. The Journal has a long history, in fact, when I first came to Shenzhen in 1995, I also worked there as a translator! Anyway, this year, the journal is shifting its focus from buildings to the social context of architecture and urban planning. The preface from the first edition of the renovated journal is:

Why Architectural Worlds?

“S” is a tricky letter, signaling more than fill-in-the-blank grammatical shifts from the singular to the plural. Instead, “s” indicates an emphasis on and recognition of lived diversity. We start from one – one world, for instance – and by adding an “s” we suddenly find ourselves amongst a plethora of worlds – the peoples, societies, and institutions of the earth.  In other words, the presence or absence of an “s” reveals both the topic of conversation and our level of analysis. Are we talking about the nature of the world in general, or are we talking about distinct cultural worlds?

Examples of how an “s” might bring us from abstract musing to actual experiences abound. Being means “existence”, but the word beings includes all life forms. Culture refers to our shared capacity to use symbols, while the word cultures reminds us that in practice we use different symbols in different and often incommensurable ways. Indeed, for many topics, speaking about a singular, essential nature indicates an epistemological shift. Thus, in everyday life, we talk about birds or a bird, but mentioning Bird raises the conversation either to the level of taxonomy (all birds are in the Animalia Kingdom, Phylum of Chordata, and Class Aves) or to the poetic (The free bird leaps on the back of the wind and floats downstream till the current ends and dips his wings in the orange sun rays and dares to claim the sky…)

By changing the journal’s name from World Architecture Review to Architectural Worlds, we at AW are announcing our commitment to and curiosity in human diversity. We still provide the informed, scholarly perspective on world architecture that defined our previous incarnation. However, by widening our editorial scope to include the cultural values and social institutions that distinguish one architectural world from another, we hope to open conversations about the place of architecture in constructing fully human lives.

The journal is bi-lingual, although we are still working out the ratio and format of translations. We are looking for critical essays on cities, urbanism, and/or buildings. If interested in writing for AW, please contact me.

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