NAF/NAAR Symposium 2020: Northernness

3 February 2020




NAF/NAAR Symposium 2020

12th Annual Symposium of Architectural Research 2020

22–23 October 2020 at the University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland


Call for Papers


The Nordic Association of Architectural Research (NAF/NAAR) and the University of Oulu, Oulu
School of Architecture (OSA), proudly join forces in organizing the NAF/NAAR Symposium 2020
and the 12th Annual Symposium of Architectural Research 2020 (ATUT2020), which will highlight
and discuss the special features of the Northern context and architectural research in the Nordic

NAF/NAAR ( is an independent association of architectural
researchers from universities and schools of architecture in the Nordic countries. NAF/NAAR
symposia are held once a year. They are important platforms for critical reflection on architecture
and architectural research. To ensure their dynamic and democratic format, the events are
conceptualized and organized in collaboration with various partners and are hosted by a different
university or school of architecture.

The University of Oulu ( heritage, as one of the northernmost multidisciplinary
universities in the world, is invaluable now, when mankind’s new growth frontier is to the North.
The demanding conditions of the Far North have always forced people to be inventive and
resourceful. Many ICT, health, and clean technologies that have changed the world have their
roots here. An estimated 60 per cent of the wireless traffic in the world today is transmitted using
technology originally developed in Oulu. In this vein, the designing of the built environment and
infrastructure could be a field that plays a crucial role in creating and managing sustainable cities
and communities that are viable in the North. To arrive at sustainable solutions, the design and
planning processes need to be integrative and user-oriented, and they need to align with the
comprehensive life span of the built environment.

However, what is the common-sense understanding of ‘Northernness’ in architectural research
and practice today? What defines it, and in which ways does it inform research and practice?
With this symposium, we wish to shed light on and theorize the notion of ‘Northernness’, the
underlying cultural forces in society that shape—and have shaped—this quality in architecture,
architectural education, and architectural research.

We invite scholars and practitioners from the contexts of architecture, landscape architecture,
and urban design and planning to pursue the theme of the symposium from fresh and diverse
standpoints. Theoretical and practical approaches are equally welcomed, as well as spatial and
temporal explorations through different architectonic scales and epochs. All authors should reflect
on their research methods and positioning, contextualizing them within architectural discourse
and ‘Northernness’ and their particular understanding of the notion.

Besides researchers and practitioners in architecture, landscape architecture, and urban design
and planning, we also invite scholars from collaborating fields to present their research on the
built environment and its discourse.


The symposium offers world class keynote lectures from experts in architectural research:

Thordis Arrhenius is Associate Professor at KTH Royal Institute of Technology,Stockholm, Sweden.

For more information:

Peter MacKeith is Dean and Professor of Architecture at the Fay Jones School ofArchitecture and Design, University of Arkansas, USA.

For more information:

Barbara Szybinska Matusiak is Professor and the Head of the Energy & Environment Group as well as the Light & Colour Centre at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway.

For more information:

David Chapman is Associate Senior Lecturer at Luleå University of Technology, Sweden.

For more information:


Symposium Tracks

Day one, curated by The Nordic Association of Architectural Research (NAF/NAAR) on 22
October, offers a critical framework for broad discussions on ‘Northernness’ on three

1.1 ‘Northernness’ – its history in architecture, landscape architecture, and urban design

Widely used to describe and define architecture from the Nordic countries, the term
‘Northernness’ in architectural research and practice is contested by many scholars, and even
considered politically incorrect by some. This track reflects the canon of architectural history and
the epistemological construction of ‘Northernness’ or the specifically Nordic in and by
architecture, architectural education, and architectural research. In what way has this notion, and
society’s understanding of it, developed over time? NAF/NAAR welcomes papers that, in different
ways and using different methods and means, deal with the model of Nordic architecture and
what it is that makes it Nordic. Papers may focus on case studies, archival studies, literature
analyses or reviews, et cetera.

1.2 ‘Northernness’ – its architectural representation and aesthetics

How is ‘Northernness’—or the specifically Nordic—expressed in and by architecture and its
representations? This track focuses on ‘Northernness’ and its representation and dissemination
in various mass media—architectural exhibitions, architectural television programmes, and
architectural books, et cetera—which may have an influence on society’s notion of cultural
heritage ideologies and collective memory in architecture. It also addresses the aesthetics
connected with the so-called Nordic in Northern architecture or, more specifically, how it is—and
has been—expressed, interpreted, and cherished in the built environment, in its infrastructure,
and also in its arts and crafts traditions and industries.

1.3 ‘Northernness’ – its challenges in architecture, landscape architecture, and urban planning as
a design practice

Above all, does it still make sense to talk about regional architecture, ‘Northernness’, or the
specifically Nordic in a globalized world? And, if so, how much so-called Nordic architecture
contributes to the understanding of global challenges in society and its built environment? How
does the concept of ‘Northernness’ specifically allow for posing and confronting the important
questions for design practice today? Or is ‘Northernness’ itself being transformed by actual ways
of designing? This track is open to different perspectives on the issues of contemporary design
practice in architecture, urban planning, and landscape architecture, such as planning processes,
housing issues, sustainability and climate changes, et cetera.

Day two, curated by the Oulu School of Architecture on 23 October, offers a practiceoriented
framework for discussions. In addition to studies within the architectural
discipline, multidisciplinary(1) research presentations are also welcomed, on the following
three topics:

2.1 ‘Northernness’ – Smart and resilient cities in the North

A city or municipality can be considered ‘smart’ when investments in ICT-based infrastructure fuel
sustainable economic growth, high quality of life, and wise management of natural resources
through participatory government. In addition, in the context of smart societies in the North, the
overarching aims are the adaptation to climate change and cultural preservation. In this track,
scholars and practitioners are invited to scrutinize urban design and planning as enablers and
orchestrators of the development of smart and resilient built environments in the North.

2.2 ‘Northernness’ – Designing for sustainable living, working, and well-being in the North

In the North, people spend a substantial amount of their time inside buildings: dwellings, work
environments, schools, care facilities, and public buildings. Multidisciplinary design, development,
and realization processes—defining the quality of architecture and the built environment with their
characteristics and conditions for dwelling, working, learning, and healing—are crucial for the
well-being of people. In this track, we invite scholars and practitioners to present studies or
projects that answer the multifaceted research questions arising from these general themes: How
to create well-being through design? How can architecture serve users? Research that is related
to the social and ecological sustainability of buildings and environments in the North is also

2.3 ‘Northernness’ – Light and materials as elements of Northern architecture

The Northern regions share common features in terms of climatic conditions and cultural
heritage. This track invites research related to elements of Northern architecture, such as light
and materials. The research can approach the theme from perspectives of technology,
aesthetics, cultural meaning, or design practice. What kinds of solutions are culturally or
ecologically sustainable and practical, especially in the North? Are there new innovative
technologies that can interpret Northernness in architecture in novel ways?


Key Dates and Deadlines

Call for papers: 3 February 2020

Submission of abstract: 17 April 2020

Notification of abstract acceptance: 15 May 2020

Submission of full paper, and deadline for presenters’ registration: 15 September 2020

Late registration deadline for audience: 14 October 2020

Get-together in a Northern environment: 21 October 2020

Symposium: 22–23 October 2020


Tentative Timeline after the Symposium

Improvement of the full paper based on feedback received during the symposium.

Submission of the manuscript for double-blind peer review: 30 November 2020

Notification of manuscript acceptance: 15 March 2021

Submission of revised manuscript: 1 May 2021

Deadline for manuscript proofreading: 1 September 2021

Publication: 1 November 2021



Submit your abstract (max. 300 words, excluding keywords and references) by 17 April 2020 at
the latest and indicate the preferred track.

For Track 1, send your abstract to:,

For Track 2, send your abstract to:



The guidelines for authors will be provided by 15 May 2020 at the latest.



The abstract and the full paper must both be submitted in English.



Symposium fee (250 EUR, PhD students 150 EUR), which includes the double-blind peer review
process for full papers.



Track 1 full papers are processed according to the NAAR Proceedings Series guidelines with the
aim of being published in this series. In the NAAR Proceedings Series, a maximum of 4 authors
is allowed per paper.

Track 2 full papers are processed according to the Journal of Architectural Research in Finland
guidelines with the aim of being published in this journal.

Both publications have Gold open access and are at level 1 of the Nordic scientific ranking


Committee – Editors

NAF/NAAR and OSA will appoint editors for the publications after the symposium.


Information and Homepage

Further information: and

The homepage is under construction.

About the venue in Oulu:


(1) This could be, for instance, architecture and urban design in cooperation with computer science,
information processing science, economics, lighting design and research, industrial engineering
and management, innovation studies, education, health studies, social sciences such as
geography, cultural anthropology, interaction and communication studies.