After two years of completely virtual events, the Association for Computer Aided Design in Architecture (ACADIA) is returning to in-person proceedings for the first time since the onset of the Covid pandemic. While it was fitting that architecture’s technology caucus hosted online conferences that skirted Zoom fatigue with an interesting interface and meaningful content, there is palpable energy around reconvening in the physical world.
“As we come together to expand the possibilities for computer-aided design in architecture, we bring with us vivid memories of COVID-19 lockdowns and life on Zoom,” Fritz Steiner, Dean and Paley Professor at the University of Pennsylvania Stuart Weitzman School of Design, told AN. “We’re more aware than ever of how special it is to gather in person, but also the constructive role that technology can play in building communities and collaboration.”
This year’s iteration of the organization’s annual conference, dubbed “Hybrids & Haecceities,” will be hosted by the Weitzman School in Philadelphia after being delayed two full years (the school was originally scheduled to host in 2020).
“Haecceity” is a philosophical term for the oneness or uniqueness of an individual thing. The dichotomous theme of “Hybrids & Haecceities” “seeks novel approaches to design and research that dissolve binary conditions and inherent hierarchies in order to embrace new modes of practice,” according to the organization. This theme seeks to elicit research and projects that work for “more inclusive and specific forms of computational design.” The conference chairs—Dorit Aviv, Masoud Akbarzadeh, Hina Jamelle, and Robert Stuart-Smith—noted in an exclusive statement to AN that:
the world is a very different place today than it was in 2019. There is more urgency for designers to address the social, environmental and economic conditions of every project, and we believe that all facets of the design discipline—from Carbon-Negative Design and Fabrication to Big Data and Augmented Environments—can contribute to bringing greater equity and sustainability to communities everywhere.
ACADIA President Jenny E. Sabin added:
For the past two years, the annual ACADIA conference has been held online due to uncertainties caused by the pandemic. This also marked an important shift in critical discourse on computational design through the proceedings of the 2020 and 2021 conferences emerging from the extraordinary and ongoing systemic challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, climate catastrophe, and social justice crises. This year’s conference, Hybrids and Haecceities, continues to challenge us to deepen our thinking and creative practices through a critical, thought-provoking, and inspiring conference. We hope that now that we’ve opened the doors to these important questions and topics that these conversations persist, grow, and continue to contribute to the richness of the ACADIA community.
This year’s conference has much to live up to in accomplishing this call, especially in light of last year’s diverse and wide-ranging virtual conference that earnestly tackled issues of access, bias, and inclusion within computation, and architecture more broadly.
Workshops for ACADIA 2022 will take place Monday, October 24th through Wednesday the 26th, while the general conference proceedings run Thursday, October 27th through Saturday the 29th at Penn. Keynote addresses are set to be given by Antoine Picon (Harvard Graduate School of Design) and Meejin Yoon (Höweler + Yoon); the latter duo will also be honored with an ACADIA award alongside Jason Kelly Johnson (California College of the Arts), Rajaa Issa (Robert McNeel & Associates), and Felicia Ann Davis (MIT). Check back with AN for the highlights following the event.