01 Maps: instruments of architectural (dis)orientation

Wed, December 9th @16.30h

︎︎︎Zoom link

Surrounded by a fog of virtual images, how do we orient ourselves? How do we work with the dynamic assemblages of actual and virtual entities, of living and non-living things that constitute our environment? How do we organize the multiplicity of agencies and emerging potentialities in order to set new spatial processes in motion? How do we make present the plural temporalities defining this collective production? In our first ALICE Research Seminar we seek to address these questions by considering the role of maps and their (dis)orienting qualities in contemporary architectural and spatial practices.
While maps have often been considered precise and objective representations of the world, the fascination and disquiet they produce in us lies in their endless potential to hint new orders, new relations, new narratives and actions. While conceived to hold the world within them in a precise image, maps are actually always fuzzy, rattling with potentialities and the movement of the living. They reveal to us how to every movement of orientation and ordering there is a parallel one of disorientation just as from every unsettling action on the existing frameworks and references, new organizing and referencing impulses emerge. Acknowledging this back and forth motion as key to our architectural practice requires a transformation of our tools and strategies.

When architecture goes beyond representation and starts mapping, it gains, among its techniques and practices, the ability to work with processes and fields instead of fixed states or objects; to work with an expanding field of material agencies and care to attend to the multilayered balances of the environment; to work with histories and plural temporalities to fully and justly relate to the complexity of our present. With our guest speakers, Frédérique Ait-Touati, historian and author of Terra Forma, and Roger Paez, architect and author of Operative Mapping, we will dive further into these active and activating instruments.

Guest Speakers:

Roger Paez. Architect ETSAB, Barcelona (Hons.); MS AAD Columbia University, New York (GSAPP Honor Award for Excellence in Design); PhD UPC, Barcelona (Excellent Cum Laude). His Doctoral Dissertation “Operative Cartography. Mapping Agency in Architectural Design, 1982-2012”, directed by Jaime Coll (ETSAB UPC) and Iñaki Abalos (Harvard GSD), was awarded the highest distinction. Following professional experience in the studios of Alison+Peter Smithson (London) and Enric Miralles (Barcelona), he founded A i B (www.aib.cat), a studio devoted to contemporary architectural practice with a critical edge, based in Barcelona. He has designed the Marine Zoo of Barcelona, the Hospital Clínic extension, and the Mas d’Enric Penitentiary, selected for the FAD Prize 2013 and finalist to Catalunya Construcció 2013 Award.

Frédérique Aït-Touati is a historian of literature and modern science, a seventeenth century specialist, and a theatre director. She is a research fellow at the CNRS and a member of the Centre de Recherches sur les Arts et le Langage at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales. She works on the uses of fiction and narrative in astronomy in the seventeenth century, as well as the history of images and scientific instruments; more recently, her research has focused on the narratives and aesthetics of the Anthropocene, particularly in theatre. Her books include Fictions of the Cosmos (2011), Histoires et savoirs (2012), Le Monde en images (2015), Terra Forma (2019).