The symposium aims at creating a place for sharing and discussion on research in architecture and urbanism, artistic practice and studio pedagogy. It does so by reflecting upon epistemological and cognitive strategies and tools used in understanding and shaping our space, from the immediate human body and its extensions to the territory. As such, the symposium proposes to explore theoretical, practical and ethical connections that link our ways-of-knowing with the ways-of-doing to be desired for a common future. The overall theme “Scaffolds - Open Encounters” seeks to enable constructive dialogue between disciplines, educators, students, practitioners, researchers, educational bodies, local communities and curating institutions. The symposium is organized by ALICE lab, an architectural design and research unit at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, with the collaboration of Metrolab Brussels (ULB-UCL), the Research Laboratory for Architecture Theory and the Philosophy of Technics at the Technische Universität Wien, the Chair of Public Building from the Faculty of Architecture and Built Environment of the TU Delft, The Berlage and the Faculty of Architecture of KU Leuven. Taking place in the privileged space of the former Yser Citroën garage and generously hosted by CIVA / KANAL - Centre Pompidou, the symposium aspires to foster future collaboration between different stakeholders and participants. We encourage the participation of researchers, educators and practitioners from architecture and urbanism, the humanities, artistic research as well as philosophy, psychology and social sciences. The symposium is open to the participation and attendance of people from any field and academic discipline who might see their ideas overlap the proposed themes. Additionally, we encourage the participation of artists and researchers working on art-based research.


Participants are invited to submit an abstract (max 300 words, before15.09.2018 to [email protected], instructions below) addressed to one of the three proposed tracks for scholarly, scientific and artistic contributions. Abstracts will be reviewed by the Scientific Committee. Selected participants submit their full articles after the symposium, which further follow a process of peer review, and will feature in a scientific publication to appear during 2019.

in coherence with the broad scope and reach of the themes of the symposium, we invite and encourage participation from the arts and arts-based research. Participants from dance, theatre, performance, media art, conceptual art, are particularly encouraged to submit a proposal. We remain open to proposals exploring alternative forms of interaction with the other tracks.


1 When Tools become Instruments: Masterful Articulations in Architecture and the Arts
Chair: Michael Doyle, ATTP, TU Wien; Diana Alvarez-Marin, CAAD, ETH Zürich.

There is something about invention in architecture and art that cannot be properly willed, cannot be reduced to a minimum effort for a maximum effect. Almost counter-intuitively, it is through repeated practice that suddenly something that was not possible suddenly becomes so. Whether it is addressed in education, practice or research, this poses a particular challenge, because it precludes recourse to any single normative and prescriptive design methodology. If future architects and artists are no longer simply to emulate unquestionably the ‘Geniuses’, how can educators, practitioners or researchers work with the technics available today not as tools to be learned, but as instruments with which one cultivates, through repeated practice, a literacy or a mastership? This track seeks contributions looking to address this theme through the following questions:

1.1 While there is a tendency to associate the artisanal with the ‘analogue’ and the technologically fabricated with the ‘digital’, this association obscures the fact that any technique (or technology) always articulates the continuous (technically, the analogue) and the discrete (technically, the digital). How can we work analogically with the digital and digitally with the analogue in ways that foster inventive articulations that are as crafty as they are computational? How do we articulate machine intelligence and human intelligence without entirely subjecting one to the other?

1.2 Invention does not necessarily require the computer, nor does it require a radical break with the past or with what is already there. How can forms of externalization (drawings, paintings, texts, etc.), either fabricated with or without the computer benefit from the plenty of data available today? How can the increasing availability of data be instrumentalized towards a literacy in the modes of construction, fabrication and dwelling? If such a gesture would be less about analytically identifying the elements or logics of that which has been ‘rendered’ (geometrically, visually, with ‘tools’ in two or three dimensions) than about indexing a milieu of potentiality (the n-dimensional domain of the instruments), how can such a literacy be employed to create the meaningful, the unexpected, the carefully crafted?

2. City, Civility and Post-Political. Models of Freedom and Conflict
Chair: Selena Savic ATTP, TU Wien

City and Civility share the etymological root *kei- also common to civic and civilization, pointing back to the act of “laying” with a secondary sense of “beloved, dear”. We lay our cities with love and reason, we inhabit them, imbue them with lawfulness and order, we struggle in them, redesign and rebuild them, take stances, challenge governments, and meat each other. Contemporary city, with all its faces, is the world we have created, yet we struggle to find room for participation and engagement - how can we articulate inventive models for addressing civility, rather than remaining entrenched in oppositional sovereignties?

Civility relies on an articulation of trust, freedom and conflict. The suggestion with the ‘post-political’ is that it comes at a time of a perceived alienation from politics, and it takes up the debate on the end of history that can be traced back to Hegel. Throughout different articulations of post-history, post-political, and post-democracy it appears that in some way, we have eradicated the real conflict for the sake of liberal ideology, which in turn has evacuated courage, imagination and idealism. Besides inequality, this has brought about a transformation of politics into a technocratic apparatus of automated counting and ordering.

In this panel, we propose to address the questions of technocracy and post-political with projective models that characterize lawfulness freedom and contradiction constitutive of civility. The rise of urban civic movements worldwide and the active involvement of architects, researchers and artists therein testifies to the importance of this new ground of scientific and artistic engagement. Such requests for a deepened and improved democracy also reach the studio, the atelier and the laboratory, and reunite with the recent rise in architectural and scientific attention to societal issues, as well as with the foregrounding of citizens as co-creators. The panel invites contributors interested in inventing ways to position within these topic that make the city and civility.

2.1. If the resolution of conflict between alternative socio-economic movements lends itself to technocracy, how can we articulate our relationship to technics and to civility in novel, augmenting ways without falling into technocratic traps?

2.2 What kind of persona is the architect-citizen? When we speak of participation and responsibility, particularly that of an architect (planner) that has high stakes in a city space-making and decision-making, we tend to see the citizens on one and the city-makers on opposing sides of spatial involvement. Increasingly though, it becomes evident that the separating line does not hold and that we need to theorize new forms of spatial engagement and responsibility.

2.3 How could we (re)articulate lawfulness freedom and contradictions so that we respond more accurately to the conditions of contemporary city?

3. Cognitive and sensory strategies for understanding and shaping our environment, from the room to the territory.
Chair: Darío Negueruela ALICE, EPFL, Julien Lafontaine Carboni ALICE, EPFL. Leonardo Impett Max-Planck Institute for Art History

Human capacities to modify our environment largely depend on our engagement with others and with space. Such engagement, in turn, deploys different cognitive and affective strategies that have an influence in the kinds of spaces conceived and constructed. In this respect, active involvement in space and with others can be said to bear consequences for how and what we learn. Gestures, figurations and attitudes perform thus a mise en espace, transcribing social phenomena onto space with the help of specific physical and conceptual supports, or scaffolds, highlighting how space is operational to the reflection on living together (vivre ensemble).

This track aims at addressing the combined and interdependent role of the physical and space making implications of emotions and the cognitive consequences of spatial conditions in forms of sociality. The consideration of the epistemic capacities of the body in space invites us to move from a more abstract, computational and individualist model of knowing towards a more situated, collaborative and enactive framework. Moreover, if we consider knowledge not to simply be a “cold” understanding, but to invest a crucial bodily dimension, we begin to understand how different modalities of engagement with others and with space give way to the birth of constellations of meaning. This interdependent and non-deterministic stance to space making through physical conceptual, sensory and social scaffolding elicits the following questions:

3.1 If basic spatial figurations and gestures contain and give shape to our world, how can rearrangements of our imaginaries, ideas and emotions give form to novel spaces? What is the unnoticed relevance of everyday physical actions for imagining a different future? How can they perform as foundational acts capable of breaking with spatial and social inertias?

3.2 To what extent or in which manner these proto-spatial gestures, figures and attitudes help us articulate alterity in our increasingly segregated contemporary urban contexts? How do they enact spatial conditions of encounter and avoidance upon which urbanity is based?

3.3 If our experiential and situated perspective reunites our appraisals of diverse scaled phenomena in one continuous thread of embodied experience, where space plays a non-trivial role, in which ways actively working with such affective and cognitive strategies can provide us with a capacity to address the conception and construction of our cities in a trans-scalar way? And what would be the tools to translate into physical space concepts that are derived from these strategies?

Contributions to this track may address the effects of spatial arrangements in the modes of social interaction, compare the effects of the eventful on the formation of cognitive frameworks in contrast to everyday actions and practices, or focus on the consequences of an epistemological approach to space through attention to the sensory, atmospheric experimentation or philosophies of practice. This track particularly welcomes critical reflections on the crossing between epistemology of space and the nature of human agency that emerge from these above-mentioned issues. Moreover, attention to reflective narratives dealing with the bodily dimension in spaces of conflict or cooperation is encouraged.

Please submit your abstract before Sept. 15 2018 to: [email protected]
In your submission, please follow the following instructions:

  • name the subject of the email: scaffolds_submission_your name
  • attach a pdf of your abstract with the name: scaffolds_submission_accronym of your abstract title. 


  • Submission of abstracts: 15th September 2018.
  • Notification of selected abstracts: 25th September 2018.
  • Registration deadline: 10th October 2018
  • Symposium: 22nd – 23nd November 2018
  • Being with Pedagogy Open Event: 24th November 2018
  • Registration (for the symposium):150 Euro

Please note that we cannot offer any financial support for travel, accommodation or food, nor for costs
The symposium will combine keynote lectures, presentation and discussion of individual researches
in three open tracks (open to contribution in the form of article presentations), two curated panels,
transversal workshops on emerging questions of interest together with some selected artistic interventions.

Contact Info:  You can contact Darío Negueruela, Head of Research at ALICE lab and organizer of the Symposium