Architectural Models: Theory and Practice in Scale

Monday 2 December 2019 to Tuesday 3 December 2019

Campus HEAD, Design Room
Av de Châtelaine 

The discourse concerning the role of the model in architectural theory and practice has intensified in recent decades. From the 1976 Idea as Model exhibition at the IAUS in New York to the work of Thomas Demand, contemporary architectural and artistic practices have broached issues such as the relationship between the objecthood and representative condition of models, their epistemic autonomy and independence from full-scale architecture, and their association with the human body and sense of visual inhabitation. 

Organised by the Department of Interior Architecture at HEAD – Genève on 2-3 December 2019, the International Symposium Architectural Models: Theory and Practice in Scaleaddresses the agency of models in the construction of contemporary spaces and their associated cultures. Featuring a host of guests including Thomas Demand, Jonas Dahlberg, Thea Brejzek, Nadja Maillard, Socha Monteiro, Jill Gasparina, Roberto Gargiani and Lilet Breddels among others, the symposium seeks to examine and reflect upon the spaces, activities and media featured in model practices, and uses open discussions and ephemeral scenography as its main display platform. 

The event will be structured as a stimulating space, make to inspire, stimulate and activate thinking and debate. The conferences will be the subject of a graphic report drawn live by the graphic designer Thibéry Maillard. 
This symposium benefits from the financial support of the Fonds National Suisse (FNS). 

Scientific Committee: Dr. Javier Fernández Contreras, Dean of the Department of Interior Architecture and Dr. Roberto Zancan, Professor of Theory and History of Architecture Department of Interior Architecture.

Téléchargez le programme du Colloque Architectural Models : Theory and practice in scale ici

Monday December 2, 2019

14:30 – 15:00 Scientific presentation of the conference
Javier Fernandez Contreras, Head of the department of Interior Architecture, Professor, HEAD – Genève  
Roberto ZancanProfessor, HEAD – Genève  

15:00 – 16:15 Pour une histoire des maquettes 
Michael Jakob, Professor, HEAD – Genève  

16:15 – 16:30 Pause

17:45 – 18:30 
Nadja Maillard, Scientist, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland  

Figures of the mise en abime
Now common, almost banal, the notion of mise en abyme – borrowed from heraldry – is a particularly subtle and relevant way to engage dialogue across scales, in particular between a building and its reduced reproduction, the model; but other “nesting types” will be explored during the presentation: literature, arts, cinema, theatre, graphic novels, advertisement… In addition to the iterations between large and small, there are clearly, in this embedding process, different “stories” included one into another that attribute reciprocal meaning to each other. 
Tuesday December 3, 2019

10:00 -11:15 Staging the Future: The Model as a Performance
Thea Brejzek, Professor, University of Technology Sydney, Australia  
This presentation examines the performative potential of the exhibited scale model and focusses on what the model does rather than what it is. It traces significant shifts in exhibited theatre and architecture models, from traditional iterative and representative scale models towards self-referential models in the 20th and 21st centuries. This research argues that models conceived not as developmental tools or persuasive representations but rather as autonomous objects possess agency and examines how such models are able to make valid statements about our cultural, social and political realities. 

11:15 – 12:30 Waiting for Mars, une maquette de maquette 
Jill Gasparina, Professor, HEAD – Genève 
The work En attendant Mars (2017), by French artist Bertrand Dezoteux is based on Mars500, an experimental simulation programme for a flight to Mars. Using scale-models of the original modules as stage for a video as well as puppets, the work shifts from the mission that is yet to-come to its simulation, and then from the simulation to its animated version. 

12:30-14:00 Pause 

14:00 – 15:15 Hybrid space 
Kai Reaver, Professor, OCULUS Osco Center for Urban and Landscape StudiesOslo School of architecture and Design, Norway
The presentation argues that expected technological developments within mixed-reality challenge our understanding of foundational disciplinary terms such as “architecture” and “space”. Presenting experiments and research within AR, facial recognition, 3d-scanning, 5g positioning, and the ongoing development of the “smart-city,” the author presents a context in which architects, artists and spatial practitioners must mobilize their disciplines in defence of democratic, civil society - while simultaneously presenting the novel opportunities for human experience, cooperation between individuals, and new understandings of our environments that these new technologies may provide.  

15:15 – 16:30 Seduced by the Model 
Lilet Breddels, Art Historian, Director of Archis – a platform for architectural debate & research, and publisher of Volume Magazine, Amsterdam 
Breddels will talk about the persuasive, rhetorical and communicational use of architectural models. The model – on very different scales. As a tool to talk. 

16:30 – 16:45 Pause 

16:45 – 18:00 The cube: abstraction of a three-dimensional object through an orthogonally generated, complex space. 
Stefano Ferracini,Professor, ESA Saint-Luc, Brussels, Belgium 
The exercise is an opportunity for first year Interior Design students to experiment with space and its dimensions, as conceptualised by the most important artists and architects of the first half of the last century. This is about managing constraints through a coherent composition, abstracting a real object and integrating it within a three-dimensional space. It is also about learning how to go beyond a concept and building a tangible, perfect object. With this meta-project, students get their first exposure to what interior design is about.  

Roberto Rizzi, Professor, Politecnico di Milano, Italy 
Thinking through Architecture. The model as a tool for learning and knowledge 
If for the designer, and the future inhabitants, the small-scale construction in a model is the anticipation, before the construction of the work, of making or enjoying architecture, for those who have to teach or learn it, it is a very effective tool for understanding the most intimate formal dynamics of an existing work (or no longer existing), of its reasons (the simply functional ones, and the more specifically constructive, material, formal and figurative) and of its meaning (that is its existence as a living being, because it’s meaningful). 

For many years in the Interior Architecture Studios of the Schools of Architecture of the Politecnico of Milan, an experience of analysis and reconstruction of historical interiors (in a long-term perspective) was completed, conceiving the construction of a scale model as the synthesis of a path of analysis and excavation in the work and its sources, a way of retracing its genesis using the same tools (interpreted in scale) with which it was conceived and created, to recreate, with a careful setting up taking into account measures and light, a punctual and immersive enjoyment and that, in the chronological sequence of comparison of different examples, would allow to capture permanencies and changes in the way of building the dwelling. 

Dafni Retzepi, Philippe Buchs, Arimna 
Cyril Dériaz, Thierry Buache, Dériaz Buache architectes associés 

The Fragment as a Whole
Architectural models are necessarily subjected to some kind of abstraction, may that be structural, spatial, or material. Starting from this simple hypothesis, the discussion orients itself around the thematic of models as fragments of a more complex context and investigates their relation. Fragments of future buildings, mock ups, careful disposition of brutal materials, are all protagonists of a certain contemporary architectural reality. Referring to them as “still life”, “readymades”, “compositions” or “collages”, the architects are looking to expand their vocabulary beyond the limits of the discipline, suggesting a voluntary auto-referentiality of the fragments - and of the discipline itself. 

Collective discussion between guest speakers and young researchers 

18:00 –18:30 Pause
18:30 – 20:15 Campus HEAD, Le Cube Talking Heads avec Thomas Demand, Artist, Hochschule für bildende Künste Hamburg, Germany in conversation with Julie Enckell Julliard and Roberto Zancan, HEAD – Genève


View all of the school's events

Architectural Models: Theory and Practice in Scale
© Thomas Demand, Backyard, 2014, C-Print/Diasec, 230 x 382 cm