stage one ARCH + IAD

Urban portrait | glimpses of the infraordinary

The term ‘infraordinary’ was coined by the French writer Georges Perec (1936-1982). Perec pleads for the necessity to observe, contemplate and analyse the things we see around us every day; and he urges us to consider the significance of the actions, objects and experiences that we take for granted.
In the first project of their studies, students apply some of Perec’s notions and questions to the realm of urban space and its usage. Rather than emphasizing the exceptional, the sensational or the spectacular, the concept of the infraordinary guides their examination of the contemporary city: of the modes of how urban space is produced by the performed rituals of everyday life.
The area of investigation for this endeavour is the centre of Canterbury. Students explore, map and portray this territory as a particular spatial and socio-cultural setting at the beginning of the 21st century.

By what is urban space defined?
By buildings? Infrastructures? Functions? Protocols? By what else?
How is urban space inhabited? Who is doing what and where? Why there and not somewhere else?
What happens in the same place at different times of the day?
How do people interact with the built environment? How does the built environment interact with people?

In the first phase of the project, students design, build and test a wearable device manipulating their ordinary perception of space. This gadget modifies the senses (sight, smell, hearing, taste, touch) in such a way that some of them are blocked (or at least dimmed) while others are amplified or directed in a specific manner.
By manipulating the faculties by which the body receives external stimuli the perception of the environment is reduced and enhanced at the same time. The obstruction of some senses, allows to focus on the remaining ones and to create a ‘hyper-responsiveness’ in order to receive the infraordinary signals of the everyday that otherwise would stay unnoticed.