Behavioural-, Communicative- and Collaborative Aspects of Tools for Architects and Structural Engineers

Files: abstract, full paper

Fragments from proceedings (‘paper submission’)’:

Abstract. 

This paper presents the analyses of twelve interviews with structural engineers and architects integrated with a comprehensive literature review about the behaviour of architects and structural engineers when communicating and collaborating in the early phase of the design process. The focus is on creating a tool

to deal with behavioural, communicative and collaborative problems of the actors involved when collaborating to design folding spatial structures.

/…/

By analysing and interpreting various aspects of communication and collaboration n the interviews and literature, the relationship between behaviour of the actors involved and the design process is developed. Within that framework the use of prototypes, models and other tools in relation to communication and collaboration between the actors is analysed. This enables to create tools to design folding spatial structures taking into account behavioural-, communicative- and collaborative aspects during the early phase of the design process.

Keywords. 

Behaviour, communication, collaboration, tools, architects, engineers, design.

/…/

Conclusion

As well in the work of Runberger, as in the work of Oostra, Smit and Eekhout the behavioural, communicative and collaborative aspects between architects and engineers, including their controversies, ‘disappear’ into process models and need further research. A multi layered tool should motivate, activate and inspire architects as well as structural engineers to ‘map their controversies’. 

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Discussion and future outlook

A limitation to the interviews is they where only conducted with Dutch architects and structural engineers. On one hand this limitation seems to neglect cultural, juridical and other aspects. However, as the tool is still under development and the stance for developing the tool is not this is how you must do it, but based on research, this is how you can do it, this can not be a huge problem.

Future research will involve International Master students, starting practitioners and experienced practitioners to further develop the three layers through different actions. This in order to develop a design tool for architects and structural engineers they can use when designing folding spatial structures.

Studio_ L28: Urban Sonic Design Conversation

Files:  abstract, poster, full paper

Fragments from proceedings (‘artefact submission’)’:

Abstract.

Our proposition consists of a public installation that seeks to infrastructure a multiplicity of conversations around the topic of a sonic urbanism as critical spatial practice hereby opening up to the affective or attractive and repulsive power of sonic force. To explore the affordances of a sonic urbanism as critical spatial practice and thus to break free from prevailing modes of urbanism which focus on sonic risk and vibrational nuisance – we constituted a working practice exploiting and nurturing the productive encounters between disciplines such as sound art, urbanism and urban architecture. By setting up an experimental design studio at the KU Leuven Faculty of Architecture, embedded in local auditory culture and in connection to ongoing planning processes, we aim to facilitate an open learning ground for sonic design experimentation in the development of innovative sonic spatial tools and approaches. Our design studio is oriented to students of the International Master in Architecture summoned to research the multiple (sonic) vibrations of the Brussels L28 railway area, to exploit and contrast these vibrational forces, transforming them to into actions and opportunities. From a critical sonic understanding of urban space, we exploit a contradictory role compared to the widespread noise control practices, reformulate environments, perimeters and relations of urban phenomena and search for interactivity with vibrational dynamics that already exist in the territory. In a public installation we will show possible design approaches and perspectives that we have explored together with students and other guests. The documentation of the research project will be the central focus for a series of transdisciplinary conversations that we will organize in the exhibition space of the conference. Does the questioning of the politics of silence and noise lead us to alternative sonic strategies and tactics for the design of transitory urban space? What critical positions can we take from here for the creation of vibrational environments that enable new forms of urban negotiation?

Keywords.
Sonic Urbanism, Critical Spatial Practice, Conversation, Exhibition, Vibrational Force

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INSTALLATION / SET UP

The complete installation consists of 1) a listening desk for max two persons 2) Panels with poster presentation 3) an audio recording/playback system. On the posters, design proposals for the open space of the railway space L28 will be positioned according to the research axes. The table we will present a sonic cartography of the research project using graphic and (sonic) vibrational material. Through an audio set up that integrates 3 headphones, an acoustic monitoring device into one system, conversations are recorded and later mixed with the field recordings and previous conversations. The results are made audible via play back.

Field Notes from the Technospace

Files: abstract (Cannaerts and Helbig), poster (Cannaerts and Helbig), full paper (Cannaerts)

Fragments from proceedings (‘paper submission’)’:

Abstract. 

The environments in which we operate as architects are increasingly saturated with digital technologies: internet-of-things, global communication and transportation technologies, mobile devices, increased satellite coverage, location-based services, ubiquitous computing… The post-doctoral research project under the title architecture, agency and the technosphere, investigates architecture’s relation with this technologically saturated environment. The three year project coincides with setting up the Field Station academic design office (ADO) at the KU Leuven Faculty of Architecture. The aim of the paper is to reflect on the ongoing and completed projects and to establish a number of frameworks for the research agenda of the post-doctoral research project and the ADO, and attempt at developing a model for understanding the technosphere. The discussion will address open questions regarding research, teaching and practice of the Fieldstation ADO.

Keywords. 

Architecture, agency, technology, technosphere

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DISCUSSION: UNPACKING TECHNOLOGICAL AGENCY

Fieldstation Studio’s ventures into the technosphere demonstrate that technology is increasingly influencing our environment. Digital technology is obviously human made and for the most part intentionally designed, its agency first and foremost lies with the people, corporations and governments developing and employing these technologies. However, the consequences of the large scale adoption of digital technologies, their impact on the environment, the cultural phenomena they give rise to are largely unforeseen. As such we can ascribe spatial agency to the technology itself, to the accidental emerging megastructure of the technosphere.

The work of this paper is based on is diverse in scope, this paper draws some cross sections through the work looking for come themes and strategies as part of the work in progress of unpacking the spatial agency of digital technologies. Each of the frameworks proposed here – the fertile middle ground to be found when thinking beyond dichotomies; the tentative model of interaction between vertical spheres and stacks, horizontal territories and shifting borders; the novel ways of seeing and mapping technology provides and resulting visual cultures – would benefit from being developed more, both in theoretical framing and in produced work. This paper reports on a research project in progress and hopefully the feedback and discussion will provide fruitful insight for the further development of the research, teaching and practice of the Fieldstation ADO.

Between Drawing and Sculpture

Files: abstract, poster, full paper

Fragments from proceedings (‘artefact submission’)’:

Abstract.

A series of plaster casts in the form of small tiles is the starting point for a reflection on a position between drawing and sculpture, between the two dimensional and the three dimensional. But also, a reflection on the imagination of poetic sculptural concepts through a casting method where negative becomes positive and visa versa. The production mode and the necessity of making a series of these plaster casts will be highlighted.

When a photographer shot detailed photos of a large drawing I made for the creation of an edition, I noticed how the medium of photography added a new reading of the depth in the drawing and of the material quality of the lines and cut-outs in that drawing. Without being able to say exactly what it was, I sensed a potential in these observations for the development of new works. In retrospect I can now clearly see how a text by Jean-Marc Besse on cartography, building and inventing that I studied some years ago helped me in setting up a project to give meaning to these observations.

I started making tracing drawings by engraving lines with an electric mill in wooden casting panels. I made small plaster casts of it. The plaster cast came out with a smooth white surface, and the engraved lines created the notion of an embedded relief. A three dimensional and material aspect was introduced. I could make different casts of the same fragment or look for other compositions. I imagine spaces and sculptures made with tabletops, window frames, ground planes of the studio space, badminton nets, billboards, road signs. The flat white surface of the plaster tile inspired as a mental space where the sculptural entities resignate.

I decided to create a method to investigate further the potentials of the observations I made in the photos. I developed a casting technique to allow the production of series of images where I could investigate the position where drawing and sculpture go hand in hand. According to Jean-Marc Besse these images, and the sequence of the different forms of the images, is establishing the path of the object or the project from which we can reconstitute its rationality. These sequences of images and thoughts don’t stop because something is proven, but because the last act was the right one. The logic of the project is about the work that had to be done and not about the rule that had to be used. It is within this dynamic of the research, within this investigation of open horizons based on a “position” (or a hypothesis or an idea of a form) that knowledge objects are being made which shouldn’t be seen as basic facts. Besse, 2001.

Keywords.

mental space; positive negative; poetics; sculpture; position

Dwelling, the Conversation Pieces

Fragments from proceedings (‘artefact submission’)’:

Abstract.

As a stage and framework, architecture is a well-developed medium for surrounding art. As a reference, art – by shape or meaning – serves architecture as an inspiration. What is of interest for the PhD project is if the architecture practice can learn from artistic practice, within its own act of space making. Probably there are design strategies to mutate or translate, in addition to the thinking in alignment, symmetry, solid/void, constructive details, harmony (in material, color or proportion) and other properties most architects are familiar with. The PhD project Dwelling, the Conversation Pieces aims at staging a productive dialogue between two disciplines. The goal is to set up several exhibitions that materialize conversations by using artefacts produced by the architects together with a carefully made selection of invited artists. By exhibiting the artefacts, the conversation becomes public and can be circumstantially debated by specialists from several disciplines. In his book, Iñaki Ábalos takes you on a guided visit to exemplary houses erected in the 20th century categorized according to seven different contemporary philosophies1. Seven worldviews relate to seven ways of structuring the home, both in the sense of constructing, orienting and the taking positions in the power relations of public life. By naming the parallels between philosophies and architecture, Ábalos underlines related ways of seeing the world through the spatial setting, the construction method and the chosen materials. Ábalos helps me to look at the shaped world as a field of opinions and designed intentions. By positioning different artefacts in relation to each other, at least one emerging meaning should speak of dwelling, the verb and dwelling, the object. Another one will report on the different ways of experiencing and imagining dwelling and by doing so, will bring forward a deepened exchange between art and architecture. For the CA2RE conference I will exhibit artefacts that illustrate a first collaboration. In this selection the design strategy of animism is on display. Human characteristics here work in relation with ‘telling’ architecture. As described above, these pieces aim to provoke a conversation.

Keywords.
Dwelling; artefacts; substantiating worldviews; design the conversation; interdisciplinary

/…/
I believe that by this selection of objects the design strategy of animism is on display, where recognisable human features work in service of art and architecture when transmitting messages.

Activating Empathy through the Act of Drawing

Files: abstract (De Brabander, Lagrange and Van Den Berghe), poster (De Brabander), full paper (De Brabander, Lagrange and Van Den Berghe)

Fragments from proceedings (‘artefact submission’)’:

Abstract.

We propose to present a set of drawings as an artefact. Through these drawings, we propose the act of drawing as a moment of embodiment and a tool to further enhance empathy in observations of phenomena related to architectural design which are difficult to understand otherwise. This research aims to develop ways of understanding fragility in architecture through initiating an (empathic) drawing process. We aim to critically assess and reflect on three series of drawings, their interrelation and how making those drawings contributes to understanding fragility through empathy. We will discuss these three series of drawings: Firstly, we will discuss a selection of drawings out of the first author’s drawing archive, consisting of drawings made as a child, a youngster, an architectural student and an architectural researcher. To obtain insight in the author’s way of drawing and hence observing, the author’s drawing archive has been observed. The observation has indicated that drawings made two decades ago are interlinked with drawings made over the past five years. Secondly, we will bring to the fore a series of sketches of a Belgian dune landscape made on site. We will elaborate on how these sketches are an initiator for current drawing cycles by serving as memo drawings. To conclude, we will elaborate on a drawing series that comprises layered drawings that gradually decode and unravel spatial observations. /…/

Keywords.
Perspective, analogue drawing, proto-renaissance, design driven research

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Conclusion

The drawing process as described above provided the research process with the leverage that was necessary to question the status of the window. First, the window has been drawn and understood as an object placed next to the draughtsman. /…/ Is the window an object placed next to the draughtsman who is looking at one place? Or does the draughtsman personify the window for many places? If so, what are these places and are they important? These questions will be the subject of the next research phase. The drawing cycles as described above have been necessary steps to make this clear. /…/ The research is making clear that the act of drawing is an intense and empathic moment of embodiment, hence being a moment it is temporal. In that moment the draughtsman dwells where his ‘object of obsession’ that he is drawing resides. /…/ This moment of becoming, and thus the empathic window through which we observe, is extremely fragile. This is the fragility we are seeking to investigate and understand through this research. /…/ The drawings are a way to avoid the destruction in this moment by capturing it in drawing cycles of this kind so they can possibly give more permanence to ‘the fragile’.

Enframing the Scene

Files: abstract, poster, full paper

Fragments from proceedings (‘paper submission’)’:

Abstract. 

This paper is part of a Ph.D. thesis. It originates in a cross-cultural observation, which is from the perspective of the contemporary architecture academic context to interpret one typical Chinese landscape spatial phenomenon: enframing the scene.

Starting from a discussion of frame1, both in contemporary architectural discourse and in retroactive research concerning Ancient Chinese landscape, this project aims to reveal certain similarities and differences in the use of frame between these realms.

Based on a cross-cultural methodological approach, we found a similarity in the use of frame in these two domains. They are both from visual habits. It is in one certain chain: ‘the way of seeing’- ‘the way to create space matching this seeing way’1. Due to the different visual habits, the cases from ancient Chinese landscape offer another way to see, and then another way to organize, the space by using frame. This “another way”, in this thesis, is defined as perceptual interaction between the users and space, happening in the user’s perception field.

In the present paper, it will discuss the possibility to employ the perception-phenomenology and visual psychology to demonstrate the feasibility and effectiveness of this perception interaction tool in contemporary spatial design.

The adoption of phenomenology is based on the assumption that human knowledge of space includes some a priori. This means that, excluding cultural differences, there should be some spatial prototypes that can serve people of varied cultural backgrounds.

Ultimately, the research will highlight how the perception interaction, used as a “design tool”, could lead to a higher context-sensitive spatial design practice in this contemporary extensively globalized society.

Keywords. 

Perceptual Interaction Design Tool; Contemporary spatial design; Ancient Chinese landscape architecture; Frame/windows and space/landscape

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Conclusion

Although this is a study based on the spatial phenomenon of Chinese gardens when we talk about the perceptual cognition, that is the essential and fundamental working mechanism, we actually touched on the commonality of the human being. We believe a more in-depth analysis of it in this process, mainly employing perception-phenomenology and visual psychology, will help us return to the context of contemporary spatial design discourse. It would help to convert it into a tool using in contemporary design.

Design the Possible

Files: abstract, poster, full paper

Fragments from proceedings (‘paper submission’)’:

Abstract.

How can the transformation of a street tell the story of the redevelopment project of an urban district (if it can) and therefore of a wider marginal territory? How can a built pavilion tell about the redevelopment of a prison (if it can) and therefore of the Italian prison system? Starting from these two questions related to practical experiences/…/, I will try to explore empirically the nature (one of the possibilities) of the contemporary project in some realms of complexity. It is an investigation into how architectural design can equip itself to become one of the key stages of the transformations that involve marginal territories.

Nowadays, the development of a project often has to face complex and uncertain contexts. On the one hand, the contexts can be complex because of different and contrasting needs, fragmented responsibilities, multiple knowledge and unspecified problem issues. On the other hand, the contexts can be uncertain because of changing political intentions, lack of economic resources and the hesitant time of possible transformation. Inactivity seems to be an inevitable condition. To overcome this condition, design needs to be updated in order to become an ecology of practices /…/, inside the society. In other words, it should have an innovative attitude capable of overcoming the traditional public-private economic system, applying to calls for grants, for example, working in partnership with several stakeholders, designing not only on problem-solving tasks but also on the definition of critical issues.

Following the process and the outcomes of two researches I have actively took part in, the attention will be focused on the elaborated documents, investigating possible innovative aspects. Both experiences try to define devices to guide the possible transformation, experiencing punctual realizations. In this way, the strategic stage and the tactical action influence each other in a cyclic movement. An adaptive master plan for a marginal territory and a set of guidelines for the redevelopment of Italian prisons will allow us to reflect if it is possible and useful to design a well-done document, re-elaborating “la tet bien faite” by Morin (1999). This would not be a document that designs a model but a device that both places and answers questions and which has the criteria to put in relation the available elements. An open document that has the codes to change itself in accordance with the contingency, becoming something different, maintaining the same strategic orientation. However, the debate remains open.

Keywords. open documents, complexity, uncertainty, contingency, research in action

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The aim is to design devices capable of distinguishing and merging, recovering the original meaning of the term complexus /…/. A rhizomatic tool that connects the scales, the temporalities, the different degrees of generalization and specification, that become a shared place of work. Here coexist the interactions, the exchanges, the choices, the specific formalisations, conflictual too. Here the multiple thrusts and the tools of an adaptive training process are expressed. The process advances by approximation and by parts whose positioning is agreed from time to time.

Aware that many questions are still open /…/, this intervention is to be considered only a first attempt to use what can be learned from the opportunities encountered.

Transformation of Cultural Environments

Files: abstract, poster, full paper

Fragments from proceedings (‘paper submission’)’:

Abstract. 

The focus of the Ph.D. is transformation of cultural environments in Denmark. /…/ Almost like “branding” the perception of the cultural environment becomes vital for the collective development plan, and case-examples show how the narrative of the cultural environment can work as a strategic baseline for a development scheme and join the municipality, investors and the local community in the same development direction. /…/  the Ph.D.-project explores a democratic development by means of design interventions in a selected cultural environment. Through architectural registrations, qualitative interviews and field notes the project investigates the impact of the design intervention. The main subjects of the paper will consist of: the method ‘Research by Design’ as a catalyst for site-specific development,

‘Research by Design’ in relation to co-creation, and the balance of designer and researcher /…/  ‘Research by Design’ is present in physical site-specific interventions in the cultural environments with the aim to inform and invite the local community toparticipate in the development. ‘Action Research’ will allow the researcher (myself) to work to ways: both as a designer/facilitator and as a researcher.

Keywords. 

cultural environments, heritage, research by design, action research, co-creation, citizen participation

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Process oriented design intervention

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The integration of the local community and relevant parties can vary from e.g.: actual cooperation /…/ to casual interaction with the design (using it, watching it, touching it) /…/. The effect of the implementation of the intervention will be documented before, during and after, and this is done through a field log with photographs and the investigations described above. The intervention will, as mentioned, strive to activate the cultural environment, open a dialogue and invite the local community and relevant parties to engage. /…/ The design interventions will work as catalysts

and strive to activate the respective area, and it has the purpose of exploring the opportunities and to change the perception of the area.

The Ph.D.-project originates from the perspective; that cultural environments contains both physical and social understandings and should be developed in relation to its context of social network and its physical context. The initial research question examines a social aspect of cultural environments, concerning the social network, the use and the relational value. In the second research question the understanding of cultural environments, as being part of and influencing its context, is central. The third research question explores the method by which cultural environments can be developed.

Amplified Realities

Files:  abstract, poster, full paper

Fragments from proceedings (‘abstract submission’)’:

Abstract.

This paper sets out the first outline of a research into the relations between signal, control and spatio-temporality — the concrete entanglement of abstract space-time and social reality and of abstract machines and social bodies. More specifically, it seeks to explicate how signal processing technologies and respective abstract models and logic are incorporated into spatial practice, into the production of global networks of so-called ’smart’ cities in particular. Although the implications of electronic media are widely discussed in the current discourses on space, the actual problem of control and the social realities produced by it seem to remain just partially addressed. First, the increasing dependency on signal processing machines and transmission networks, coupled with the decrease in clarity of their inner workings, which is in part inherent in their expanding complexity, may create yet unknown types of normalization and exclusion. Second, signal processing technology significantly modifies our sense of space-time. It allows for seemingly unconfined communication, navigation and localization (which in turn changes habit, perception and lived space-time) but simultaneously enables spatially diffuse or ubiquitous forms of centralized control. Last, the discrepancies between different theoretical and philosophical angles (in broad terms: new materialism and dialectics) seem to distract attention away from the problem of control and its implications. This trans-disciplinary research is situated at the intersection of architecture and sonology. The methodology is to conduct a theoretical study intertwined with research through sono-spatial practice, which primarily focuses on sonic space and the agency of signal. Practice-driven research allows for the concretization of abstract models into spatio-temporal configurations and sonic manifestations (i.e. making them audible by means of sound installations, compositions and spatial designs), interaction with listeners and context as well as thorough engagement with the machine. The theoretical research focuses on two distinct and seemingly incompatible angles that correspond to the aforementioned discrepancies. On the one hand, it explores the technicity of signal processing. For example, how these technologies operate, convolute and develop over time. On the other hand, it critically analyzes how these technologies and techniques are incorporated into the production of space, into politico-economic practices and architectures of control.

Keywords.
us signal processing technologies; architectures of control; spatial practice; abstract machine; spatio-temporality

A Dialogic Approach to Urban Drifting

Files: abstract, posterfull paper

Fragments from proceedings (‘artefact submission’)’:

Abstract.

Collaborative poem-drawing is a verbal and meta-graphical expression of spatial thoughts and feelings. The works represent an unfinished dialogue of memories (and design dreams) that are related to a shared (and imagined) urban experience. They are fragile platforms of carefully layered traces of discussions between the two authors, from day to day. They are “remnants” of dialogues about places that are experienced (through derive sessions) or imagined (in design drawing sessions) not as entities outside ourselves, but between ourselves. As dialogic devices, these collaborative poem-drawings are bringing together two different ways of looking at the spatial reality, while avoiding closure of the finite meaning of the processed material.
Graphically representing the conceptual background of our desire: clouds of spatial amorphous envelopes (dreams and memories) are hovering above a semi-permeable membrane (our senses and our sensitivity to the given reality) laying upon vertical columns that rise from the “orthogonal” ground. These clouds are fragments of urban interpretations related to a specific place: their inscription into a format of collective poem-drawings represents the process of juxtaposition of the interpreted maps in scale (plans, photographs, sections) and their resonance in the present moment of re-creation of memory. They are a palimpsest of different degrees of reality: the tension between the Clouds of memory and the “Reality” in scale is what generates an abundance of meaning, each time a spatial memory is re-evoked into presence.

Finally, these collective poem-drawings are tools that aim to cultivate liberation from the Known in the present moment of inscription. The exhibition would include: 1.a discussion upon the artefacts (reflection on the process of making and reading the maps); 2.a collaborative drawing performance; 3.a (graphical and verbal) contextualization of the collective poem-drawing in the wider context of the PhD thesis. /…/

Keywords.

collective poem-drawing, dialogic, derive, urban interpretation, distortion of memories

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Conclusion

Unlike the poem-drawings that are processual tools in a design task (few of them will be exhibited at the conference), the artifacts introduced in this sequence are flowers which sprouted from a trembling soil: without precise aspiration, without „why?‟ and „how?‟ and „what for?‟ They are there because they emerged as an urgent need to cultivate a spatial dialogue through means other than purely verbal meditations. Communicating in silence contributed to our thorough mutual understanding in relation to spatial doubts and questions. At the same time, we created a notation/artefact of that discussion that is transferable a wider range of indirect interlocutors.

The contribution to a collective learning environment, that such a research can bring, is the stimulation of the following points through search for order by the growth from the inside and releasing a particle of truth from the unrepeatable moment of creation: 1. learning to listen responsively (creative and critical compassion); 2. bringing a design decision / spatial judgement built upon such self-softening; 3. continuous recording and erasing of experienced spatial values: a simultaneous cultivation and destabilization of the value system, beyond any authority. /…/