Stanislav Roudavski

University of Cambridge

Year of completion

Fran├žois Penz

Alan Bridges (University of Strathclyde, UK), Chris Rust (Sheffield Hallam University, UK)

Cite as
Roudavski, Stanislav (2008). Staging Places as Performances: Creative Strategies for Architecture (PhD, University of Cambridge, UK)

Summary of Thesis
This thesis is about creative strategies for staging places as performances. To remain viable in the rapidly changing technological and social context, architecture needs to extend its engagement with research, reappraise its fundamental goals and develop creative strategies adequate to new challenges.

However, utilisation of research in design disciplines is still immature and the methodologies of this utilisation remain a matter of controversy and active debate. In particular, the potential of cross-pollination between designing and research requires further clarification. This thesis addresses this need by developing a methodological approach that combines participant observation and investigative designing. Utilising these methodologies, this thesis considers several case-studies, including interactive installations and virtual environments.

Engagement with case-studies through participant observation and investigative designing in this thesis motivates a discussion that reinstates place as the focus of architectural practice. Existing discourse and practice in architecture often assume retrograde, romantic, essentialist and exclusionary understandings of places, for example as singular, bounded and static. By contrast, this thesis highlights an open and flexible vision of places as performances. Considering the possible roles of architectural designing in place-making, it suggests that architects cannot produce ready places but can engender place-making performances and influence their growth with provocative, open and collaborative creative-design strategies.

Having established the case for distributed, polyphonic, campaigning creativity in place-making, this thesis considers whether design computing can support its performative needs. Commonly, researchers and practitioners in architecture express concerns that design computing can hinder human creativity. By contrast, this thesis demonstrates that design computing can support distributed creativity by staging multiplicious, open, flexible, idea- and insight-generating participatory exchanges. In the process, this thesis considers interactive cinematography and procedural designing as place-making actions. This re-conceptualization demonstrates that design computing can usefully support creative place-making and sometimes be indispensable for its success.

This thesis contributes to knowing by 1) utilising and presenting an unorthodox methodological approach to architectural research; 2) presenting an approach to understanding and making of places novel to the field of architecture; and 3) re-conceptualizing innovative design-computing as an important creative resource for place-making.