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How Environmentalist Mobilizations Shape Buildings, Cities and Landscapes

Type: Calls For Papers [View all]
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Deadline: Mon, September 26th, 2022

Craup - Call for papers

Environmental awareness has grown steadily over the past decades, shaping public conduct and everyday practices at nearly all levels of society. At the same time, the timidity of institutional responses to the ecological crisis and the near-paralysis of political and legislative agendas have helped generate and fortify new forms of citizen mobilization dedicated to environmental action. The disciplines of architecture, urban planning, and landscape find themselves directly affected by these initiatives in so far as they relate to the habitability of our living environments and the transformation of civic and spatial terrains. 

In the US, the form and tenor of environmental action has shifted considerably over the past two decades, moving away from well-funded and mainstream environmental organizations and NGOs towards smaller, more local grassroots community organizations, many of them based within long-neglected inner city neighborhoods. These organizations draw their inspiration, if not their direct lineage, from the civil rights movement and from the important activism conducted by grassroots environmental justice movements dating back to the 1980s. This lineage has produced a more militant and inclusive movement dedicated to thinking about environmental stewardship in relation to the previously ignored categories of  race, gender and equity. It has also produced a movement that is more grounded in everyday practices, one that tends to see the global imperative of acting locally.

While diverse in the means they employ and the aims they pursue, the organizations that are part of this movement have tended to focus on the convergence between, on the one hand, community stewardship and ownership of land and resources, and on the other hand, environmental sustainability and the adoption of renewable energy. They have also tended to mobilize around long neglected and often toxic parts of the urban fabric, seeing in crisis the seeds for renewal. This “Just Transition” to a regenerative economy that they seek to accomplish stands markedly against profit-driven and technocratic solutions often dictated from the top down. Indeed, principles of democratic organizing have been fundamental in guiding the work of many of these groups.[1]

Though the projects are modest in scale, the number of initiatives is growing rapidly. In the capital city of Mississippi, the organization Cooperation Jackson have mounted multiple programs in recent years, opening a community center, establishing a community land trust and housing cooperatives, and deploying cooperative forms of refuse management towards “zero waste” principles and practices.[2] The eco-village model they seek to advance aims to offer affordable housing, create employment opportunities and provide access to local resources. In New York, the city recently signed into law the Renewable Rikers Act to facilitate the transformation of an island prison complex off the shores of Manhattan into a hub for the creation of renewable energy.[3] Projects such as Sunset Park Solar, a cooperatively-owned solar garden on the roof of the Brooklyn Army Terminal, meeting the grassroots call for “energy democracy,” will soon enter the construction phase.[4] Non-profit organizations dedicated to urban farming, such as the Red Hook Initiative in Brooklyn, have begun to green the rooftops and vacant lots of dense urban environments while creating more robust food systems in impoverished communities.[5] Decades-old work by organizations are starting to pay off as large infrastructural projects, such as the Los Angeles River, are “rewilded” and reshaped into environmentally resilient ecologies.[6] These efforts are radically transforming urban environments into dense and complex ecological systems.[7]

Similar initiatives are being established beyond the United States. In Europe, novel forms of engagement are being proposed by architectural collectives[8] who combine participatory processes and environmental action.[9] Moreover, opposition and resistance to urban and infrastructural projects are enduring forms of activism, of which the ZAD of Notre-Dame-des-Landes is one of the most radical examples in France in recent years.

The conceptual frameworks of these movements are diverse, based on historical processes, political traditions, and challenges specific to each country. They are, moreover, the object of both local adaptations and transnational circulations, as shown, for example, by the revival of the figure of the commons[10] and its municipal variants in Southern Europe,[11] or the contemporary invocations of the “right to the city,” behind which popular mobilizations are coalescing in Latin America.[12] Similarly, if buen vivir was born out of the struggles led in the 1970s and 80s by Andean indigenous communities to gain recognition for their identities and territories, it was in connection with the anti-globalization and ecological demands of the early 2000s that the slogan asserted itself as a critique and alternative to mainstream efforts at sustainable development.[13]

Many of the groups engaged in environmental action relate their “bottom up” efforts to broader social visions that involve the democratic re-appropriation of spaces and resources. The local and micro level reveals a whole repertoire of actions deployed by such groups,[14] including self-build housing initiatives and the community-ownership of renewable energy, temporary occupations of public and private spaces, local control over urban planning decisions, community gardening, forms of participatory and investigative cartographies,[15] and the establishment of networks facilitating the access to tools,[16] etc. The projects and counter projects that result employ means such as re-use, agro-ecology and renewable energy. Forms of environmental activism that involve environmental stewardship and the direct transformation of daily life are likewise inscribed within larger social and political objectives, including access to housing, food, and the development of alternatives to dominant economic systems.

Continuing on the set of concerns explored in issue number 11, “Thinking about Architecture through its Resources,” this issue of CRAUP also addresses the ways in which ecological questions affect the design of inhabited spaces, however, it seeks contributions that focus more specifically on the interactions between architectural, urban and landscape professions and citizen-led environmental mobilizations.

1. International Parallels

While focusing on specific problems linked to architecture, urbanism and landscape, we seek to identify the effects of transnational circulations (of actors, of tactics, and of ideas) on these environmentalist and citizen-led dynamics. Because the global dimension of ecological problems is linked to local forms of action, international comparisons represent a fertile perspective for this issue of CRAUP.[17]

While the introduction to this call for papers focuses on American examples, articles from transnational perspectives or those mobilizing a diversity of national and cultural contexts are equally welcome. For example, what distinguishes Berlin’s architect-activists from their Parisian counterparts? How do institutional actors (elected officials, the state, developers, etc.), depending on the country and local policies, support or impede the initiatives?

2. Theoretical Perspectives

Who are the key authors and what are the central theoretical frameworks of ecological thought animating architects, landscape architects and urban planners today? What are the forms and modalities by which these ideas are disseminated? How do they move from specialized and disciplinary spheres to the general public?

What role have exhibitions, professional publications, radio broadcasts, etc. played in this respect? How can we make sense of the proliferation of manifestos that we are witnessing today?[18] Are we seeing similar developments in other countries, or how do they differ?

What are the editorial or curatorial endeavors bringing attention to environmental concerns and political ecologies in France and the US? What are the effects of these texts on public or private decision-making bodies (for example, elected officials)?

Contributions may focus on figures, such as the North American landscape architect Anne Whiston Spirn, who have moved across the disciplinary boundaries of architecture, urbanism and landscape in addressing ecological and environmental crises.[19]

3. Historical Perspectives

We are also looking for works that situate recent dynamics within longer histories of the themes broached in this issue. What distinguishes the current movements and initiatives from their historical counterparts? How do new forms of activism and novel methods of addressing ecological concerns differ from those of previous decades?

The 1960s and 1970s were a turning point in the consciousness of environmental distress and were the source of numerous calls for action, concrete forms of resistance and political ecologies. They offer a particularly rich field of study to be explored further.[20]

Other periods, particularly earlier ones, also merit attention. For instance, the 19th century, with its industrialization, urbanization and formation of an ecological science, was a founding moment, especially in Western Europe. It gave rise to discourses on the valorization of nature and brought about forms of mobilization structured in associations or learned societies and supported by artists and intellectual figures (for example John Ruskin in England).[21]

Papers may focus on the particular challenges and achievements of the present generation. For example, what effects have recent international strikes and marches for climate action generated among architecture, urban planning and landscape students? To what extent are schools and universities places of student environmental activism and engagement today?[22]  How do present-day design projects and theses in architecture, urban planning and landscape reflect the evolution of these dynamics over time? How are interests in environmental issues that are so lively on campuses internationally making their way to professional architectural, planning and landscape practices?

Accounts of experiences and case studies of projects, counter-projects, dynamics of resistance and struggles, and action-oriented research may form the basis of proposed contributions, as long as they are explicitly contextualized and put into a proper perspective. Shorter articles, profiles of specific actors, interviews or reference texts that have not yet been translated into French may also be included in the “research materials” section of the journal.


Procedure for the transmission of draft articles

Proposals for completes articles will be sent by e-mail before 26 September 2022 to the Craup’ editorial office:
For more information, contact Aude Clavel on 06 10 55 11 36 or by email

The review expects completed articles, not proposals, abstracts or any other form of presentation.

The articles must not exceed 50 000 characters, including spaces.

Languages accepted: French, English.

Articles must be accompanied by:

−          1 biobibliographical record between 5 to 10 lines (name and first name of the author (s), professional status and / or titles, possible institutional link, research themes, latest publications, e-mail address).

−          2 abstracts in French and English.

−          5 key words in French and English.

−          The title of the article must also be translated into French or English depending on the language of the paper.


[1] A number of these organizations base their conduct on the “Jemez Principles for Democratic Organizing,” adopted in 1996 by the Working Group Meeting on Globalization and Trade of the Southwest Network for Environmental and Economic Justice. See [on line] [].


[3] https://www.renewablerikers.org




[7] Hélène Schmutz, “(Ré)introduction d’une nature ‘sauvage’ en ville : écologie, esthétique et pouvoir dans l’urbanisme vert. La revitalisation du fleuve Los Angeles (2007-?),” Textes et contextes, 16-2, 2021, [on line] [].

[8] Atelier Georges and Mathias Rollot (eds.) LHypothèse collaborative, conversation avec les collectifs darchitectes français, Paris, Hyperville, 2018.

[9] See the architectural collectives Collective Disaster and R-Urban / AAA in Paris, and Taktyk in Brussels.

[10] Denis Bocquet, “‘Les communs comme concept et catégorie de pensée’: complexité et polysémie du miroir historiographique,” Espaces et sociétés, vol. 175, no. 4 (2018): 183-188.

[11] Pierre Sauvêtre, “Quelle politique du commun ? Les cas de l’Italie et de l’Espagne,” SociologieS, Dossiers, 2016, [on line] [], [].

[12] See the dossier “Le droit à la ville et la question urbaine en Amérique latine,” Problèmes d’Amérique latine, 2018/3, n° 110, [on line] [10.3917/pal.110.0005], []. One can also cite: “O ativismo urbano contemporâneo: resistências e insurgências à ordem urbana neoliberal,” Cadernos Métropole, v. 21 n° 46, 2019, [on line] [].

[13] Matthieu Le Quang, “Le Bien Vivre, une alternative au développement en Equateur?,” Revue du MAUSS permanente, Oct. 4 2016, [on line] [].

[14] See: Alexandra Nadeau, Geneviève Cloutier, Claire Poitras, Alexander Aylett, “Racines citoyennes : la communauté locale au cœur de la transition écologique. L’impact des initiatives climatiques locales et citoyennes à Montréal,” Canadian Journal of Urban Research, 28, n° 2 (Winter 2019): 16-31.



[17] See: Florian Opillard, “Comparer la dimension spatiale des luttes urbaines. Analyse critique des mobilisations contre la gentrification à San Francisco (États-Unis) et contre la prédation immobilière à Valparaíso (Chili)” - “Comparing the spatial dimensions of urban struggles. A critical analysis of mobilizations against gentrification in San Francisco (United-States), and against real estate predatory practices in Valparaíso (Chile),” Annales de Géographie, 127, n° 720, March/April 2018, p. 115-144.

[18] A number of manifestos were published in France in 2018 alone. See: “Manifeste pour une frugalité heureuse et créative. Architecture et aménagement des territoires urbains et ruraux,” []. See also: l’Appel de Lyon en 2017 et le développement du réseau Ensa-Eco, sur l’enseignement de la transition écologique dans les écoles d’architecture, [on line] [].


[20] See: Caroline Maniaque, Go West. Des architectes au pays de la contre-culture, Parenthèses, 2014; Isabelle Doucet, The Practice Turn in Architecture: Brussels after 1968, Ashgate, 2015; Fanny Lopez, Lordre électrique : infrastructure énergétique et territoires, MétisPresses, 2019; Daniel Barber, A House in the Sun: Modern Architecture and Solar Energy in the Cold War, Oxford University Press, 2016.

[21] Charles-François Mathis, “Mobiliser pour l’environnement en Europe et aux États-Unis. Un état des lieux à l’aube du 20e siècle,” Vingtième Siècle. Revue d’histoire, 113, n° 1, 2012: 15-27. See also: “Les écologies du XIXe siècle”, Romantisme 2020/3, n° 189; “Patrick Geddes en héritage”, Espaces et Sociétés, 2016/4, n° 167.

[22] Dimitri Toubanos, Philippe Villien, “Former des architectes pour participer à la transition écologique et sociale”, Annales des Mines - Responsabilité et environnement, 101, 2021/1, p. 65-69, [on line] [].

Posted on Mon, April 25th, 2022
Expires on Mon, September 26th, 2022

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