ALL ABOUT SPACE – the ALICE project
‘You find yourself plunged into a deep silent void.
It is all around you, all within you and all without you.
You seem to have lost every notion of time and space.
You see nothing. You hear nothing.
There is not even the slightest perception of smell or taste or touch.
You don’t receive any information of all,
as if your senses had been switched off, all of a sudden.
You think to yourself: What the hell is happening to me? –
At this very moment, you have entered your individual world of interior.’
The following posts will deal with the notion of space, and start with the book
ALL ABOUT SPACE of the ALICE project,
a laboratory of the architectural section of the university EPFL in Lausanne/Switzerland.
‘Exactly. It is the absolute beginner situation all over again.The fall down the rabbit hole and the entry into Wonderland is nothing less than the ‘original’, the blueprint of the absolute beginner situation in the history of western modernity: the prototype of a journey from one world into another, from surrealism to virtual reality, from Sigmund Freud to Monty Python, from J.R.R Tolkien to William Gibson and the Wachowski Brothers. There and back again. The ‘whole fucking cake of the Alice experience’, as a certain visitor to the ALICE laboratory has put it. Needless to say that Wonderland itself is ALL ABOUT SPACE as Alice invents and eventually experiences it.’
‘The key hypothesis of ALICE’s research and teaching activities places space within the focus of human and technological processes. Can the complex ties between human societies, technology and the environment become tangible once translated into spatial parameters? How can these be reflected in a synthetic design process? ALICE strives for collective, open processes and non-deterministic design methodologies, driven by the will to integrate analytical, data based approaches and design thinking into actual project proposals and holistic scenarios.’
‘The [ALICE.LAB] research activities revolve around the manifold question of how we engage in the process of “making” space: space constructed through artefacts and by the societies that produce them; space as embodied experience. Our team of doctoral students and researchers conduct studies on architectural and urban questions, with a strong emphasis on the social/human factor in the production of cities. Through interdisciplinary approaches involving several fields pertaining to the sciences of the city (sociology, social geography, political sciences, ethical and legal practices), to critical theory (phenomenology, language theory, semantics) as well as to the hard sciences (cognitive neurosciences, biology, etc.), our aim is to address the complexity of urban phenomena and formulate appropriate questions that may in turn challenge current modes of urban planning and city development, while fostering exploration towards more diverse and dense urban strategies for cohabitation.The following questions are at the core of our research premises.
How can social narratives lead to new ways of inhabiting territory?
Which democratic tools and governing principles are necessary to harvest new planning strategies?
How do individual ethical reasoning affect space-making processes?
How is the perception of space mediated and conditioned by our bodily experience and our intellectual apprehension of the world?’
ALL ABOUT SPACE will consists of 4 volumes.
Volume 1 (published fev.2016): The invention of Space’ can be considered a novel. It combines fact, fiction and speculation with approaches to work at the ALICE laboratory, focusing on the creative understanding of space as a human condition. In consequence, the first volume extrapolates how space is ‘invented’ in terms of the various cultural practices involved with spatial design. The story is told in text, pictures and graphics. It sets out to capture the arbitrary individual experience and pushes forward into the common invention and comprehension of space, the ‘environmental’, the ‘virtual’ and the ‘simulative’ space, and ends up with exploring the spatial conditions of thought, emotion, fantasy and imagination.
editors : Dieter Dietz and Daniel Zamarbide
Text : Matthias Michel
Photographs : Dylan Perrenoud
published by : Park Books