Instruments of architectural (dis)orientation


Maps : instruments of architectural (dis)orientation is the first seminar of the ALICE series Surrounded by a fog of virtual images. Organized in 2020-2021 by ALICE (Atelier de la Conception de l’Espace) at the ENAC / EPFL this online series seeks to explore and operationalize architectural research questions through a series of talks with international guest speakers led by its grad and post-grad researchers around key topics of their work.

Surrounded by a fog of virtual imageshow do we orient ourselves? How do we articulate 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 this first Research Seminar we seek to address these questions by considering the role of maps and their (dis)orienting qualities in contemporary 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, relations, narratives and actions. While conceived to hold the world 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 movement of disorientation, just as whenever we unsettle the existing frameworks and references, new organizing and orientating impulses emerge. Acknowledging the key role of this back and forth motion in our architectural practice requires a transformation of our tools and strategies.

When architecture goes beyond representation and starts mapping, it adds to its techniques and practices, the ability to work with processes and fields; to labour with an expanding field of material agencies to care and attend to the multilayered balances of the environment; to incorporate histories and plural temporalities to fully and justly relate to the complexity of our present.

With our guest speakers, Frédérique Aït-Touati, historian and author of Terra Forma : Manuel de cartographies potentielles, and Roger Paez, architect and author of Operative Mapping: Maps as design Tools, we will dive further into these active and activating instruments.


To join the lectures and conversation:

09.12.2020 – 16:30 › 18:00