ALTERED SITES: On Psychedelic Architecture One-day Symposium, West Dean College of Arts & Conservation

West Dean College of Arts & Conservation welcomes submissions for 20-minute

presentations for Altered Sites, a one-day symposium to be held on Friday 23rd May 2023.

The Theme

‘Altered Sites: On Psychedelic Architecture’ aims to explore experimental and critical

approaches to architectural form through the exploration of built and/or imagined

structures as sites of alterity. The symposium uses notions of psychedelic experience and

expansive consciousness to engage with site as a potentially productive form of difference,

dynamism, otherness, even the new.


When Dr. Humphry Osmond suggested the term ‘psychedelic’ to Aldous Huxley in 1956, as

part of their enthused discussions around the emancipatory usage of hallucinogens, he drew

upon the compound etymology of the Greek psykhē [mind] and dēloun [to make visible, to

reveal]. Aspects of this conjunction between an interior world and a tangible, external

counterpart is at the heart of the symposium’s remit. The meeting point for such a dialogue

is proposed as ‘architecture’, not limited to designed or constructed buildings, but also as a

general principle between the structured and the unformed.


The symposium particularly hopes to explore structures – in buildings, constructed objects,

images, writing, creative practices – in which gestures of inversion, reversal, enfolding,

involution, projection, expansion, collapse, and so on – remain present within the resultant



An intellectual pioneer in the context of hallucinogenic experience, Huxley occupies a

singular place in the founding of West Dean College. It was from Huxley that poet and

college founder Edward James sought advice on setting up his utopian educational

community as early as 1939, an organisation which continues to support traditional and

experimental art and craft practices to this day. James was also inspired by Huxley’s

experimentation with psychedelics in relation to his own taking teonanácatl mushrooms in

Mexico in 1957.


How to Submit

Please submit an abstract of up to 300 words, together with a short CV / biography

(Including any affiliations and/or relevant links to websites & portfolios). Other forms of

presentation may be proposed and will be considered on a case-by-case basis.


The deadline for submissions by midday on Friday March 31st, 2023.

All submissions should be sent to


Please note:

– Submissions should be in PDF format no larger than 5MB or 4 A4 single-sided pages

– All files should be named: First Name Surname.filetype


Successful applicants will be notified by Friday 21st April 2023.

For symposium enquiries please contact:

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