Founding Alive Architecture from drawing to initiating lived space by Petra Pferdmenges

* Click on the red time-stamp to go directly to each segment in the video

00:10 Chair (Leon van Schaik) Introducing Presentation and the Examiners (Prof Gabriella Trovato, Marina Cervera)

02:55 Presentation begins with thanks to various people – supervisors etc

03:55 A short introduction about the subject matter, and the exhibited artefacts, of the PhD

05:38 The Parckfarm project

07:47 Different roles: Observer, Curator, Client, Activist, Mediator, Artist

08:40 A backstory to the hats or roles. Includes the speaker being an outsider, working and living with a wide variety of migrants. Also acknowledges Brussels as a very welcoming city to outsiders, herself included.

11:57 1st hat: Observer

17:49 Conclusion: Observer

18:50 2nd Hat: Curator

20:20 Use of stop-motion video as record of a project

24:10 3rd Hat: Client

26:20 Conclusion: Client - The importance of ‘real’ clients (with money and power) as well as the ‘most important’ clients - being the users/inhabitants.

29:19 4th Hat: Activist

35:50 Conclusion: Activist

39:00 5th Hat: Mediator

51:15 Conclusion: Mediator - Four elements forming the contribution of the work: as advocate for local involvement; as communicator (using imagery and video, to facilitate communication with ordinary people); the move ‘from ephemeral to durational’ within the projects; and lastly that the process of inclusion in developing projects is being taken up as a method by government.

57:40 End of Presentation and beginning of question and answer

58:00 (MT) Metaphor of a gardener who sows seeds, some of which grow, some need more nurturing etc. Q: Why work with only marginal spaces and marginal people?

1:05:45 (MC) describes her reading of the dissertation and the examination and concludes with a note that Petra should acknowledge and ‘claim’ the political in her work.

1:11:15 (MT) Comment on how Petra’s methodology could be applied in different situations, cities, sectors of the city (i.e. not the margins only).

1:13:45 (MC) The importance (and rarity) of follow-up and monitoring of a project after inception or, in building terms, completion.

1:16:24 (MT) Tautological observation that Petra is not so much an observer as a reader.

1:18:46 (MT) Did you discover yourself?

1:20:23 (MT) DO you imagine you will continue to be alone in your practice?

1:22:22 (MT) You are also an academic. How much of your practice are you teaching to your students?

1:23:50 (MT&MC) Why do you have to call yourself an artist? You are an architect.

1:36:37 (MT) Importance of instability in the practice

1:39:40 (MC) Importance of recognising that the intimacy of the local, implicit in the practice, is transferable elsewhere.

2:40:00 Thanks and applause

View the full dissertation


In my PhD I reveal how I founded Alive Architecture. I address the question of how observing and drawing people appropriating the public realm informed my practice. I reveal how it was triggered through drawing Lived Space, how it evolved through observing and re-producing Lived Space and how it was furthered through co-producing Lived Space together with other people. In the final project Alive Architecture became a practice that is initiating Lived Space through curating other people to produce the public realm that allowed expanding an ephemeral event to a durational project.

Year: 2015
Examiners: Gabriella Trovato, Marina Cervera, Leon van Schaik  Supervisors: Professor Martyn Hook, Adj/Prof Johan Verbeke, Prof SueAnne Ware


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