PRS Europe

22 – 25 November 2018

The Practice Research Symposium in Europe features Higher Degree by Research examinations, candidate presentations, a keynote lecture and various social functions associated with the symposium.

Attracting presenters and participants from influential academic institutions and practices across Europe, the PRS provides an opportunity for shared reflection between distinguished practitioners about creative design practice.

Events are held in various venues in Barcelona. Check the program for further details.

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Abstract Book and Program


View abstracts November 2018

PhD Examinations


The Urbansphere.
Architecture in the Age of Ubiquitous Computing

Please arrive 15 minutes early to exam as no late entry.

Thursday 22 November 2018 10am – 12pm
Venue: Calle Pallars 85, 6-1, Barcelona

Examiners: Dr Christopher Pierce, A/Prof Rene van der Velde
Chair: Prof Martyn Hook
Supervisors: A/Prof Paul Minifie, A/Prof Roland Snooks, Prof Alisa Andrasek

Candidate Marco Poletto investigated the dissolving boundaries between city and nature. The research focuses on building architectures, installations and digital protocols testing human’s interaction with non-human systems. The findings indicate that the increased spatial articulation and material integration of such systems within architecture is crucial to evolve higher forms of urban ecological intelligence. May this be the time of the bio-smart, when the traditional paradigm of sustainability is redefined by the definitive advent of ubiquitous computing?


Autonomous Tectonics.
The work of SPAN, between Autonomous Behavior and Cultural Agency

Please arrive 15 minutes early to exam as no late entry.

Thursday 22 November 2018 2:30 – 4:30pm
Venue: BAU College of Design, Barcelona

Examiners: Prof Bob Sheil, Dr Yael Reisner
Chair: Prof Martyn Hook
Supervisors: Prof Vivian Mitsogianni, A/Prof Paul Minifie

In contrast to the examples that exercise full control in a top down design process, Autonomous Tectonics speculates on the aspect of a non-anthropocentric design environment, where the architect as the sole genius of a design is perceived as a suspicious figure, and ideas of full automation in design are embraced as an alternative creative environment. This alternative method of design opens opportunities to discuss aspects of a Postdigital world, of the impact of automation to society, economy and culture, as well as providing alternative morphologies, typologies and organizations of space. A novel cultural entity that discusses moments of estrangement, the culture of the familiar vs the unfamiliar and seeks a conversation on the aspects of architecture that possesses disciplinary autonomy. At the same time it is embedded in the currents of a changing culture of production in which Autonomous Tectonics will be at play. This novel cultural entity is shared with a series of colleagues and peers who work on related conditions and problems. This dissertation is an attempt to discuss the evolution of the work of SPAN through the lens of discoursive inquiry and cultural agency, resulting in the concept of Autonomous Tectonics.



Atlas of Sensations

Please arrive 15 minutes early to exam as no late entry.

Friday 23 November 2018 10am – 12pm
Venue: BAU College of Design, Barcelona

Examiners: Prof Michael Hensel, Prof Bob Sheil
Chair: A/Prof Suzie Attiwill
Supervisors: A/Prof Paul Minifie, Prof Vivian Mitsogianni

The architecture of SPAN orbits around the application of computational procedures in the generation of their projects. The work in SPAN’s practice and in academy is incorporating tools and instruments that have been just introduced to an architectural environment providing the opportunity to develop design protocols and directives that might affect all stages of architectural production, from conceptualization to design, from fabrication to maintenance, creating SPAN’s design ecologies.

The presented work traces these moments in SPAN’s practice through the application of geometries. The postdigital turn is further revealed as the practice moves from the application of geometries to design protocols triggered by the G-coded gestures of fabrication tools to investigate autonomous processes.

As computers start to develop their own science, an environment that is not only understood as a biophysical reality but also incorporates the actuality of a computational ecology, both material processes and algorithmic objects inform the generated designs. This shift of design agencies in the practice’s design ecologies is not initiated to optimize architectural objects but to create objects that act as seismographic devices or artifacts whose bodies offer a matrix for these processes to materialize.



Unravelling the Eurythmic Cage

Please arrive 15 minutes early to exam as no late entry.

Friday 23 November 2018 2:30 – 4:30pm
Venue: BAU College of Design, Barcelona

Examiners: Prof Gabriella Seifert, A/Prof Rene van der Velde
Chair: A/Prof Paul Minifie
Supervisors: Prof Martyn Hook, Prof Tom Holbrook, Dr Jan van Schaik

My study lies in the primordial. It is an exploration of instinct and intuition and how they are exercised in the making of space. I use the device of the eurythmic cage to explain my direct relationship with architecture, which is primarily visual and wholly immersive. I research the underpinning of design strategies informing the work of Boyd Cody Architects and uncover persisting influences of childhood memories inflected by systems of eurythmic proportioning.


PRS Opening Events 23 November 2018

Welcome, Book Launch and Keynote  6 – 8:30pm
Venue: Media-TIC, Carrer de Roc Boronat 117, 08018 Barcelona

Welcome by A/Prof Paul Minifie, PRS EU Chair, and Prof Martyn Hook, Dean, School of Architecture and Urban Design, RMIT

Book Launch of Repair by Mauro Baracco
Presented by
Prof Ricardo Devesa, IAAC (UPC); editor-in-chief at Actar Publishers and
A/Prof Mauro Baracco, RMIT University and Baracco+Wright Architects


Dr. J.R.T. van der Velde (René)
Delft University of Technology
Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment
Chair of Landscape Architecture

Transformation in Composition: Ecdysis of Landscape Architecture through the Brownfield Park Project 1975-2015

Composition is a central notion in architectural praxis but has had a relatively negative ‘press’ in landscape architectural circles in recent times. In his doctoral research, Van der Velde re-examines composition theory such as that developed at the TU Delft in the 1990s, which elaborates composition as a methodological framework for landscape design. He takes a critical stance in respect to this method in response to emerging discourses on site-specificity and process in landscape praxis, but elaborates these in relation to formal-aesthetic foundations of landscape architecture, instead of as alternatives.

The lens for the reconsideration of the ‘Delft Method’ is the brownfield park project in the period 1975-2015. These projects emerge as an important laboratory and catalyst for developments in landscape architecture, whereby contextual, process, and formal-aesthetic aspects form central and inter-related themes. The thesis of this research is that a major theoretical and methodological expansion of the notion of composition can be distilled from the brownfield park project, in which seemingly irreconcilable paradigms such as site, process and form are incorporated.

By extension, the study propositions a ‘radical maturation’ of the discipline in the period 1975–2015 via the brownfield park project. A metaphor for this process is offered by the phenomenon of ecdysis in invertebrate animals, whereby the growth from juvenile to adult takes place in stages involving the moulting of an inelastic exoskeleton. Once shed, a larger exoskeleton is formed, whose shape and character is significantly different to its forebears.

In the slipstream of these findings, the research sheds new light on the shifts in the form and content of the city itself in this period, and the agency of the urban park in the problematique of urban territories. In examining the impact of de-industrialization on the contemporary urban realm, Van der Velde also proposes a major revision of abiding definitions of ‘city’ and ‘nature’, as well as the paradigms of modernity that backdrop them.


PRS Dates (2019)

3 - 8 May

21 - 24 November (tbc)


2014 - 2018



RMIT gratefully acknowledges that research leading to these results was funded by the People Programme (Marie Curie Actions) of the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme FP7/2007-2013/ under REA grant agreement n° 317325.