Obsolescence and Renovation

20th Century Housing
Event Date: December 14-15, 2015
Abstract Date: September 1, 2015
Keynote Speaker: Herman Hertzberger. Professor Emeritus at the Delft University of Technology, Netherlands. RIBA Royal Gold Medal 2012.


Today, approximately 80% of people in Europe live in buildings that are thirty years old or more. Around 50% of people live in houses that are fifty years old and more. The possible obsolescence of this housing stock is a critical issue – both across the continent of Europe and beyond.  The reasons for this obsolescence are various: changing lifestyles leave old models of houses outdated; changed demographics mean more single occupiers and an increasingly aged population; in many instances the quality of construction and environmental standards have been superseded by a concern for fuel efficiency and reductions in carbon emissions. In other cases, the communities that once lived closely in old estates and neighbourhoods have crumbled – leaving people in isolation and lacking services.

Future predictions all indicate that these issues have no solution in sight and that they will persist in posing problems. Indeed, these problems are likely to be exacerbated as the nature of our societies and ways of living continue to evolve. The complexity of the issues faced in avoiding the obsolescence of our aging housing stock clearly requires critical reflection. Answers will involve the architectural, the urban, the technological and the socioeconomic.

Building on this hypothesis, the Obsolescence and Renovation conference raises questions that affect both private and public housing stock; the south and the global north; and both pre and post World War II housing across the world. On that basis, the issues we raise are relevant to architects, planners, interior designers, sociologists, and policy makers across Europe and beyond.

Specific areas of interest include Best Architectural Practices that explore design interventions that adapt old buildings to contemporary housing demands; Best Urban Practices that analyse urban design strategies for making existing neighbourhoods more inclusive, safer and connected; Best Environmental Practices that explore improvements to the environmental performance of the older housing stock; and Best Practices on Policy, Management and Participation. How can professionals, public authorities, developers and neighbourhood community groups etc. collaborate on neighbourhood regeneration?


  • Architecture
  • Housing
  • Governance
  • Community studies
  • Sociology
  • Design
  • Human geography
  • Art activism
  • Planning
  • Urban design

Key Dates

Abstract Submissions
01 September 2015
Abstract Feedback
15 September 2015
Registration closes
05 December 2015
14-15 December 2015
Full Paper Submissions
10 January 2016
Full Paper Feedback
25 February 2016
Publication of Full papers begins
01 April 2016


Architectural Best Practices
Exploring design interventions that adapt old buildings to contemporary housing demands
Best Urban Practices
Analysing urban design strategies for making existing neighbourhoods more inclusive, safer and connected
Best Environmental Practices
Exploring improvements to the environmental performance of the older housing stock
Policy, Management and Participation
Examining best practices in collaboration between professionals, public authorities, developers and neighbourhood community groups
Housing Design
Presenting and discussing best practice models for innovatibve affordable quality housing


The conference welcomes case studies; design proposals, research projects, investigative papers and theoretical considerations around any of these or related issues. These can be presented in various formats:

Conference Presentations (20 minutes)
Written Papers (3,000 words) *
Alternative Proposals Pecha Kucha talks; short film screenings; photographic essays etc.
In-person and virtual presentations (Skype, etc.)


The publishers that AMPS works with include UCL Press, Routledge Taylor & Francis, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Vernon Press, Libri Publishing and Intellect Books.


Conference outputs include the AMPS Proceedings Series, ISSN 2398-9467; Special Issue Publications of the academic journal Architecture_MPS ISSN 2020-9006; Books with the publishing houses listed above and short films available on the AMPS Academic YouTube Channel.


Written papers are optional.  If submitted they should be 3,000 word length. Formatting instructions to follow after the conference. All papers are double- blind peer reviewed for the AMPS Conference Proceedings Series. Subject to review, selected authors will be invited to develop longer versions as articles in the academic journal Architecture_MPS or in specially produced conference books.

      Image: Carlos García Vázquez