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Ben Spong

Systemic design concerns itself with understanding the difference made by placing and framing boundaries. Systemic practices such as boundary critique and gigamapping provide methods for dealing with the inherent complexity this consideration entails. Similar questions arise in the practice of architecture on both literal and abstract terms, such as determining the edge of a building or deciding who and which stakeholders should be included in a design consultation meeting.

What is unique to architectural practice is that it has the capacity to make the boundary spatial, thus enabling it to be experienced phenomenally. Ranulph Glanville recognises this in his concept of zero space, a space between the inside and outside, the thickness of walls. For Glanville, zero space was a way of making architectural his thinking and work on distinctions which form the theoretical grounding for the work presented here.

In this presentation, I discuss two architectural design research projects from my practice that tease out the potential of architecture for understanding what is at stake from the placement of boundaries and their relative position to an observer. The projects ask to what extent can architecture, as a form of systemic design practice, lead to new ways of marking distinctions (making and placing boundaries) which resist the reduction of others.

Keywords: systemic design, cybernetics, design, practice, knowledge, knowing, ecology

This presentation is accompanied by the exhibit, Mirror in the Bathroom, an aluminium cabinet sited in a one-bedroom flat in London. It generates spatial possibilities by orchestrating notions of projection (temporal and pictorial) and registration between human, non-human, and technological others.




Citation Data

Author(s): Ben Spong
Year: 2022
Title: Practicing Architecture In The Distinction
Published in: Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design
Volume: RSD11
Article No.: 152
Host: University of Brighton
Location: Brighton, UK
Symposium Dates: October 3–16, 2022
First published: 21 September 2022
Last update: 30 April 2023
Publisher Identification: ISSN 2371-8404
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