Self-initiated research project 
One-year residency Kulturfolger Zürich

In 2019 we were invited for a one-year residency by Kulturfolger Gallery in Zürich, to develop the project. Through eight public events that combined exhibitions, installations, round tables and performances, we shared the development of our research with a curious and engaged audience. Not only were we able to create an accumulative exhibition, we also built a (growing) community around the topic. 

How much do we actually need to imagine something? To complete a whole image from fragments? Where lies the fine balance between abstraction and detail – demonstration and imagination? How do present and future - existing and new - relate (collide, coincide) on-site? 

A research project on the scale 1:1, architectural representation on-site and the suggestion of space - on physical experience and imagination in architecture.

Within the city in transformation we find a wide range of real-scale representations, simulations and projections, that are used to announce and debate future developments on-site. They are temporary - tangible - infrastructures, that appear on-site when the process of design is done and the first step towards building starts. Some of these real-scale outlines or moulds don’t reveal the whole appearance of the development to come, they only suggest it by giving a material presence to one certain aspect, e.g. materiality, surface, contour. Balancing between visible and invisible, they become a new experiential dimension of architecture in which we can recognise, imagine and create multiple interpretations of the new whole and to imagine its potential impact within the existing environment.

Following the research of last year we classified three categories of ‘materialisation of intentions’: three simulation tools on a scale 1:1 that are initially used on-site in different stages of the construction process: printed textiles or replicas, mock-ups and (the typical Swiss method) ‘Baugespann’. All three of these categories contain a different level of detail and are used at another moment of the process. 

Through a series of on-site explorations, actions, drawings (abstractions of lines, surfaces, colors and shadows) and dialogues, we analysed how we perceive, understand and experience them, and dissected them in order to understand their differences and similarities. We created multiple interpretations of what is to come, by reacting on the surrounding context as well as by considering the simulations more solitary. We have addressed various topics/concepts a.o. volume - void, body - scale - space, imagination - fragmented experience, and experimented with ways of coinciding, colliding and connecting present and future.

The (results of the) research leads us to ask wether we can use these simulation methods and the scale 1:1 as tools for design: the use and combination of characteristics of these methods offers possibilities to imagine and test a future building in relation to the present surroundings. Using them in a much earlier stage of the process, not only to announce, but to debate, design and collectively imagine, can turn them into better tools for everybody involved; architects, city planners, developers and citizens. 

The residency became a context for experiment, inclusive debate and critical reflection. Through eight events that combined exhibitions round table sessions and performances by invited guests, we presented the development of our research to a new, curious and engaged audience. The different formats of dialogues include eight public events, a series of five round table sessions, two open studios and six tête-à-tête dialogues with invited guests from different fields and cities.

Inside the gallery we gave our thoughts and questions a physical presence, by translating them into eight distinct exhibitions and spatial installations. This made them experiencable to the audience, that thereby also experienced the space of the gallery in eight different ways. Outside we selected specific sites where we found accurate examples for further exploration, together with the invited guests, through their specific - performative - approaches.

The events started on Friday evening with a presentation of the topic, the specific questions and the exhibition/spatial installation. We followed with the performance of the invited guest and used the rest of the evening for open and informal conversations with the visitors. The day after, on Saturday afternoon, we moderated a series of open round table sessions, in order to continue the dialogue with the community.

Exhibition Event 1: Rotation and Relations
Exhibition Event 2: Cut, Add, Play
Exhibition Event 3: Fragments
Exhibition Event 4: Marking Transformation
Exhibition Event 5: Continuum
Open Studio Event 6: Inside Outside
Open Studio Event 7: Shadows
Exhibition Event 8: Sound of Transformation + Final Exhibition

During 2019 we invited the following six guests from other disciplines to go on site with us and to perform in reaction to our research and work on-site/in the gallery.  

Looking through the eyes of our invited guests, as well of that of a new and open audience, helped us to tackle specific - e.g. theoretical, empirical, social, political, artistic - parts of our topic, to expand the research through different approaches and knowledge and to create and discover a more elaborate understanding of the topic.

Event 3: Pavle Stamenovic, architect and PhD. researcher from Belgrade
Event 4: Emma Hoette, dancer and storyteller based in London
Event 5: Ravian van den Hil, performance curator from Rotterdam
Event 7: Elettra Carnelli, architect and researcher based in Zürich
Event 8: Ramon Landolt & David Meier, musicians based in Zürich

We made a series of three books: one with the Drawings on-site, one with Interviews that we did afterwards with the invited guests and one special edition, ‘Imagine the volume’, our most abstract study of the interaction between absence and presence. 

Series of three publicatinos: ‘Drawings on-site’, Dialogues ‘19’ and ‘Imagine the volume’


The image of promises 2017
Simultaneity in cities 2017
Urban transformation as event2018
Space in-between 2020

©rotative studio