University of Virginia: School of Architecture

Woltz Symposium 2013

QuasiObjects / WorldObjects / HyperObjects: New Classifications for the Urban Metabolism

Woltz Symposium 2013
Date: Fri, 02/8/2013 to Sat, 02/9/2013 Location:

Campbell Hall, Room 153


Type: Lectures & Symposia

For a schedule of the Woltz Symposium 2013, click here

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The past decade has seen widespread devel­opment of forms of urban analysis and design based on various material, environmental, economic and social flows. While this ap­proach has supplanted our discussion of the city as fixed, our classification system has lagged behind in its transformation. In sug­gesting the term urban metabolism, we seek new classifications of environmental flows to assist us to think, to harvest, and to relate. In these environmental flows, soil and earth, green and energy, building services and ar­chitecture are not divided; they form complex entities. This symposium asks participants to gather thoughts on a range of entities under the general notion of “objects” – temporarily distanced from moral and aesthetic judgments pronounced on them and modifications made to them in response to these judgments – to reconstitute a place of humanity in them. As both creators and the recipients of these huge­ly complex systems, human beings face the problem of how to classify themselves beyond humanism; in seeking equality in representa­tions in the parliament of things, we must first revise our categories of knowledge to embrace what may be described as a nature/culture/infrastructure amalgam. In order to frame the discussion, we are using three “objects” to de­lineate a different landscape within which this symposium takes place.

QuasiObject: What complex entities and hybrid networks have either recently emerged or have existed but were neglected or denied under modernity? How can we pivot environ­mental artifacts such as the manicured lawn and the conditioned air between the human and the nonhuman, between subject and object? By making central the processes of configurations of each other, can we begin to reimagine our understanding of human/nature by bringing to the fore the marginalized and the neglected?

WorldObjects: If we focus on a new set of pre­viously marginalized entities, what status are they to be given? Can we, for example, expand our concept of legal subjects to non-humans, as if in a historical progression of acknowledg­ing other legal subjects from white males to women, children and people of color? What are the potential non-human legal subjects we might acknowledge in this new framework? Fish in the world’s oceans? Seedbanks? Fertile soils or farmland?

HyperObjects: How do we situate or theorize a set of material entities that while made by us, elude or defy established human temporal and spatial scales? What new modes of operating or realms of practice do such things as nucle­ar waste surfacing in Louisiana salt-domes, sinkholes, the ever growing plastic trash vor­tex in the Pacific Ocean, or Greenland’s melt­ing icecaps bear upon our understanding of and approaches to the urban metabolism?


Susanne Hauser PhD
Berlin University of the Arts, Germany
Claire Pentecost
The School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Niels Albertsen PhD
University Aarhus Denmark
Ryan Bishop PhD
University of Southampton
Seth Denizen
University of HongKong
Martin Felsen
UrbanLab, Chicago
Scott Lash PhD
Goldsmiths, University of London
Dirk Sijmons PhD
TU Delft - H+N+S Amsterdam, Netherlands

RESPONDENTS University of Virginia

Sheila Crane PhD
Associate Professor in Architectural History
Robin Dripps
Professor in Architecture
Teresa Gali
Associate Professor in Landscape Architecture
Beth Meyer
Associate Professor in Landscape Architecture
Matthew Jull PhD
Assistant Professor in Architecture
Bill Sherman
Associate Professor in Architecture


Nana Last PhD
Associate Professor in Architecture
Shiqiao Li PhD
Professor in Architecture
Jorg Sieweke
Assistant Professor in Landscape Architecture


Fr 8. February 2013 Public Keynote
School of Architecture Room 153

5:00 pm    
Kim Tanzer Welcome Note Dean School of Architecture
Scott Lash  introduced by Shiqiao Li
6:30 pm  Reception East Wall Gallery

Sa 9. February 2013 Roundtable Workshops
Garden Room Hotel E  West Range
limited seats

9:00 am  coffee reception
9:30-12:00  Morning Roundtable
Welcome by Thomas Woltz
Introduction by Jorg Sieweke
Dirk Sijmons
with a response by Elizabeth Meyer
Claire Pentecost
with a response by Teresa Gali-Izard
Martin Felsen
with a response by Bill Sherman

Panel Discussion 30 min

1:00-2:00  lunch
2:00-4:00  Afternoon Roundtable
Seth Denizen
with a response by Sheila Crane
Ryan Bishop
with a response by Robin Dripps

Panel Discussion 30 min

4:00 pm  reception

Please register for attending Saturdays roundtables
with Timothy Kelley