A new Blog is being created featuring our Unit 5 Mapping Emergence: Nomads, Nodes, Strings & Paths (Urban Transcripts 2012 Workshop on London) work and its future directions.


You are cordially invited to the Urban Transcripts 2012: London, the (n)ever-changing city Exhibition & Conference


An interdisciplinary collective narrative, Urban Transcripts 2012, brings together original works for and about London, by artists, architects, urbanists, theorists, researchers, academics and students. What will you make of the (n)ever-changing city?


Exhibition opening 7pm Saturday 8 December at ICN Space, 96 Leonard Street, London EC2A 4RH

Conference 8 and 9 December at UCL Anatomy Building, JZ Young Lecture Theatre, Gower Street, London WC1 6BT.


contact info@urbantranscripts.org


keep updated





Dr Eugenia Fratzeskou’s work on interstitiality is part of the ABC : MTL A Self-Portrait of Montréal exhibition as an invited contributor (13 November 2012 – 31 March 2013, Main Galleries of the international research centre and museum The Canadian Centre for Architecture).
Please see the official press release on the ABC: MTL show below:

An Atlas. A Bricolage. A Compendium of different elements and strategies for understanding the city. ABC : MTL is an urban abecedary and open-source initiative that maps contemporary Montréal in a diversity of ways and media. Over 90 contributions including photography, music videos, sculptures and installations, drawings, models, workshops, lectures and performances have been selected from an ongoing call for submissions. These now form a lexicon of the CCA’s home city and a platform for its creative talent.

For example, under the headline Hyperbâtiment, the collective SYN have explored the subterranean city of downtown Montréal and filmed it as a megastructure in the heroic manner, worthy of mass investigation. Under the rubric Arrivals, photographers Arjuna Neuman and Ramak Fazel present a photographic record of their discoveries while incessantly scanning Montréal during their first encounter with the city. The Montréal-based collective Audiotopie have imagined Montréal as a musical composition. Their work will appear under the title Partition. Other contributors include FABG Architectes, Saucier + Perrotte Architectes, Atelier Big City and ATSA.

ABC : MTL is the third in a series of exhibitions at the CCA investigating the development of Montréal. Montréal Métropole, 1880-1930 (1998) examined the city’s emergence as a behemoth of trade and industry at the turn of the century. Montréal Thinks Big (2004) explored its infrastructural transformation during the 1960s to meet the demands of a new era. ABC : MTL addresses the city as it is today: not a historical artifact or a series of monumental structures, but a daily experience of almost limitless variety. Material from the CCA Collection will also be included.

Link http://www.cca.qc.ca/en/exhibitions/1834-abc-mtl

Dr Eugenia Fratzeskou & Regner Ramos will be running “Mapping emergence: nomads, nodes, paths, and strings” workshop unit as part of the Urban Transcripts 2012 international workshop on London.  Looking forward to your participation!


Workshop particulars >>

the Urban Transcripts 2012 international workshop on the city
London, 3-9 December 2012
A 17-strong international tutor team of practising architects, researchers in architecture and urbanism, artists, and linguists are  leading this years’ Urban Transcripts workshop on the city. Focusing on London’s actual problematics, combining on-site visits, urban explorations, studio work and social events, the workshop is an interdisciplinary exercise in understanding the urban condition and working towards collaborative solutions.
The workshop is open both to students and non-students; it will be of particular interest to students past their 2nd  year of study, postgraduate students, and recent graduates, in disciplines related to the study of the city and urban intervention; notably architecture, urbanism, planning, geography, the social sciences, and the arts.
£140 for London-based host students
£170 for other UK students
£200 for international guest students
£240 for non-students
hosting and accommodation arrangements
London-based host students are requested to host the international guest students for the duration of the workshop. Non-student participants, and other students from the UK are expected to make their own accommodation arrangements.
full workshop programme:
contact and registrations:
Urban Transcripts


New article

September 10, 2012



Dr Eugenia Fratzeskou’s latest essay Diagramming Interstitiality is featured under the theme ‘Diagram’ in Le Journal Spéciale’Z No. 4. The Journal is published by the Ecole Spéciale d’Architecture in Paris and distributed worldwide by the leading distributer Bruil & van de Staaij. The Journal is included in the ARCHIZINES world-touring exhibition.

The Journal explores architecture’s complex contemporary context. Each issue is
structured around four thematic questions critical to current debate on the
built environment, bringing together contributions by researchers and
practitioners – artists, architects and urbanists. Le Journal mediates the wider
cultural experiences that feed into the knowledge-culture of spatiality. Open
calls for submissions ensure a dialogue between emerging and established voices
with articles appearing in either English or French. Recent contributions
include writing by Claude Parent, CJ Lim, Odile Decq and Andri Gerber;
photographs by Matthieu Gafsou and Jing Quek; and projects by Palace, Angel
Cubero and the Office for Subversive Architecture.

News & Calls

August 23, 2012

We are pleased to announce that Dr Eugenia Fratzeskou’s latest monograph

Tracing the Shadows of the Real through Interstitial Drawing in Art

has been released today 17th December 2015 by LAP – Lambert Academic Publishing.

The publication as well as existing monographs by the author can be ordered at special discounts on morebooks.


Interstitial drawing and diagramming enable us to reveal and engage with the ‘unseen’ that exceeds the limits of the ‘known’. As a condition of emergence and transitionality, interstitiality inspires our engagement with the interacting ‘layers’ of the ‘real’. In an effort to ‘read’ the obscure areas between 0 and 1, the unanticipated relations and tensions between thinking, experimentation, observation, representation and mathematical models can be innovatively revealed, reconditioning the parameters of vision, energy, information and matter. Through interstitial drawing and diagramming, unknown situations, e.g. inaccessible complexities, paradoxes and potentialities, inspire innovative practice and research in art and the related fields. The conditions and phenomena of space may become part of the creative process directly or indirectly. Code and software are used not as a ‘blank paper’, but as a generative, transitional and unstable ‘environment’. ‘Phase spaces’ and in-formation geometries emerge through the dialogue and the critical limits of philosophy, mathematics, optics, information technology and cosmology.




Interstitiality in Contemporary Art and Architecture


The new monograph by Dr Eugenia Fratzeskou:

 Interstitiality in Contemporary Art & Architecture: An Inter-passage from Delineating to Unfolding the Boundaries of Space

LAP – Lambert Academic Publishing, 2012 (ISBN: 978-3-8383-7501-4)

and other monographs by the author can be ordered on morebooks.de, amazon & other major booksellers worldwide.



The present study offers an investigation into the notion of interstitial space and its creative exploration in architecture and site-specific art, realized through digital technology. Based on cosmology, Quantum Physics and information theory, instead of being perceived as a ‘ground zero’, space is evolving and heterogeneous as it comprises of multiple interacting layers of virtuality and reality. Contemporary site-specific art is marked by a growing interest in exploring emerging interstitial spaces including transitional and unsettling in-between spaces, the emergence of which, deeply challenges spatial and disciplinary boundaries. Such an investigation includes a creative exploration of the possible inter-relationships between various types of reality and the dynamic and unsettling points of intersection enabling various kinds of exchange between those realities. The emphasis is placed on the ways in which, potential interstitial spaces can be creatively revealed through various modes of innovative spatial intervention such as mixed realities, parallel sites, inter-spaces, infra-spaces.



arts and creative media projects
theory and research papers
architecture and urban design proposals
opening 10.08.2012
closing 28.09.2012
Urban Transcripts 2012: London the (n)ever-changing city
London has a reputation of a vibrant, dynamic city constantly reinventing and transforming itself; a highly adaptable organism that embraces change and, like an astute tradesman, turns it to its own advantage. From street-fashions to the redevelopment of entire urban areas, London is an ever-changing city. Yet, despite its apparent dynamism, this is the never-changing city of a society functioning through a remarkably resilient class-system, where Victorian houses keep resisting ‘continental’ apartment buildings, their residents peacefully ruled by a partly unelected and hereditary system of governance.
“Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose”, the more things change, the more they remain the same. This often-quoted epigram by Alphonse Karr, could fittingly refer to these observations. But in what ways does this really apply on the city? Which are London’s never-changing substrata? And which are its ever-changing manifestations? How do they impact on one-another? Can change and innovation happen in the absence of a rigid framework? Or can it be that stable and robust infrastructures actually form the basis for change in the superstructure of the city? Does this change really matter? To who, and under what conditions? In what ways does the city’s built environment change in response to socio-economic forces? How does it itself impede or support socio-economic change?
We invite submissions of work exploring this theme in the following categories:
a. arts and creative media projects
b. theory and research papers
c. architecture and urban design proposals
Participants are invited to register through our website individually or as a team of a maximum of five members. Registered participants can submit their work online by 12.00 midnight London time, Friday 28 September 2012.
Visit our website for more information at http://www.urbantranscripts.org


February 17, 2012

DRAWING THE INVISIBLE URBAN TRANSCRIPTS 2011 an article by Dr Eugenia Fratzeskou in Digimag Magazine (Issue 71, February 2012) for international Contemporary Digital Art & Culture, published by Digicult (Milan).

Click here for the Italian translation of the article.

You can visit the Digimag for the published articles. The articles are published in Italian at the beggining of each month and in English at the end of each month.


DIGICULT is an Italian platform created to spread digital art and culture worldwide. It focuses on the impact of new technologies and modern sciences on art design culture and contemporary society. DIGICULT is the editor of the magazine DIGIMAG which focuses on cultural and artistic issues e.g. art & science software art design etc.



Drawing the Invisible is also included in the Rome Diary Blog by Urban Transcripts 2011. The Blog contains experiences of Rome in text, image & video.

Our Blog is also featured in various international networks including Architectural Association School of Architecture (London), UCL, AHRA, SARCHA, Rhizome, Drawing Research Network & H-Net.

Copyright Notice

January 21, 2012

Copyright by authors/creators, all rights reserved at all times.

Please note that if you use any text, image or other material from this Blog you will have to provide its proper and full citation (Name of author/creator accompanied by the proper title and link to the Drawing the Invisible Blog).

Board, Members & Network

January 20, 2012


Eugenia Fratzeskou, Dr. (Drawing the Invisible Project Founder, Director & Blog Creator/Editor. Guest Tutor: Drawing the Invisible 2011)

BA Fine Art, MA Fine Art, PhD Site Specific Digital Art

London-based artist, researcher, writer, editor, critic, educator (b. Athens, 1979). Pioneering types of site-specific art and drawing have been the outcomes of Eugenia’s research leadership of international interdisciplinary projects since 2000. Lecturing MA Architecture at University of Westminster and Architectural Association School of Architecture, London. Contributions include: Polypolis_Athens by SARCHA, at the British Council’s International Architecture & Design Showcase 2012, the official entry of Greece in the London Festival of Architecture, Cultural Olympiad 2012 (under the auspices of the Embassy of Greece in London. SARCHA strategic partners: International Law and Theory Center, Westminster University, Urban Design MArch programme, Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL), and the one that preceded it SARCHA’s Polypolis_Gerani 2012, with the Mayor of Athens in the role of the Polypolis Athens Mayor– Youth in Action EU program, Athens, Greece 9/6/2012 (under the auspices of the Municipality of Athens,Athina 9.84FM and the support of General Secretariat for Youth, National Youth Foundation, European Commission, Education & Culture), Urban Transcripts 2010: Athens (exhibitor) & Urban Transcripts 2011: Rome (workshop tutor, curatorial committee & project review committee member), Urban Transcripts 2012: London (Programme Committee & Jury Member), ISEA2010 Ruhr Conference, ISEA2011 Istanbul (Conference & Jury Member), ISEA2012 Albuquerque (Jury member), 53rd & 50th Venice Biennale, Leonardo ISAST/MIT, Digicult (Author & Editorial Board Member), Le Journal Spéciale Z (Ecole Spéciale d’Architecture, Paris/Bruil & van de Staaij), Unbuilt 2008 (Athens Byzantine & Christian Museum/SARCHA), AIAS, CADISE, CADE, AHRC Fine Art Collaborative Doctoral Training, Journal of Fine & Studio Art, work presented at Tate Britain, MARCEL, NY DigitalSalon, Marks in Space, 2004 (with L.Gillick etc.), TRACEY, Not-TV/UCL, Gallery K, Mall Galleries, ING, London. Awards of Excellence by the Greek Government and University of the Arts London. Selected memberships: SARCHA Associate, Architectural Humanities Research Association, Drawing Research Network. Recent monographs available from Amazon & other major booksellers worldwide. See short CV for more details. Contact: drawingtheinvisible@yahoo.com  eugenfratz@yahoo.com

Claudia Faraone, Dr. (Host Tutor:Drawing the Invisible 2011)

Architect – Urbanist, PhD Urban Studies

As an architect Claudia’s work has focused on the research of urban dynamics, their spaces and inhabitants, as well as on the ways to decode and represent them. She has participated in several workshops, and several collaborative and multidisciplinary research projects. She has worked as a teaching assistant in several urban planning courses and summer workshops at the Architecture Schools of Venice (IUAV), Rome (Roma Tre), at the Advanced Course in Visual Arts “Fragmented city” with the artist Marjetica Potrč as guest tutor. She was a jury member in the international open call for young video-art “Où va la video?” promoted by the Fondazione March per l’arte contemporanea (2009).

2. ASSOCIATES (Workshop Participants)

Gebriel Admassu Askabe (Polytecnico di Milano)

Gebriel was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in 1985. He completed his BA Degree in Architecture and Urban Planning at Mekelle University. Driven by the desire to enhance his ‘know-how’ on the built environment, he is now studying his MA in Architectural Engineering at Polytechnico Di Milano. In his working years, he has successfully participated in several design competitions and workshops, managed design projects and assisted supervisions. He has a desire in developing sustainable technological solutions for the present global issues to overcome the future. Above all, he believes in learning from others. His special interest lies in the way history, culture, art and the life of people affect the environment. He often asks questions, such as, “what influenced what?” and likes to address these issues in an abstract way.

Click here for profile

Aslihan Ay Güngör (Istanbul Technical University)
Sepideh Farjami (Polytecnico di Milano)

Kyriaki Goti  (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki)

 Kyriaki was born and grew up in Thessaloniki, Greece. She has been studying architecture at the Polytechnic  School of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki since 2008. She has participated in several workshops in Greece and abroad, in competitions of architecture, graphics and design and also in the organization of exhibitions and conferences that were related to these fields. She is interested in various kinds of art, such as, photography, drawing, painting, theatre and literature and she is researching the interaction they have with space. Another aspect she is trying to explore is how spatial digital programs can affect human life and vice versa.

Suraj Nandakumar (Polytecnico di Milano)

Suraj was born in the city of Bombay and raised by city of Mumbai, India. He completed his architecture training at Mumbai University. He is currently studying Urban Planning and Policy Design at Politecnico Di Milano. His interests are architecture journalism, urban planning, web strategy and lately diagramming and urban visualizations. He is a keen traveler, enjoys reading economics, political science, instrumental music and science fiction. He dreams to create democratic design platforms that will empower the designer in everybody.

Click here for personal Website and LinkedIn Profile

Zohreh Shaghaghian (Polytecnico di Milano)

Zohreh, so-called Shahrzad, was born and grew up in Iran. Getting her BSc in Architectural Design in her country at Shiraz University, she decided to develop her architectural studies abroad. She is currently studying on the second year of her Masters degree at Politecnico di Milano. She has participated in several local competitions and workshops. Together with her friend, they won the 13th rank at the international  competition “Open Architecture 2009 Classroom Design”.  Architecture from the urban point of view and social public spaces, is the theme she has been recently more interested in and has been challenging this subject as part of her MSc thesis.

Gregory Tsarouhas (Democretian University of Thrace)


Urban Transcripts

Roma Tre University

Urban Center Roma XI

Provincia di Roma

Municipio Roma XI

ESC Atelier

Urban Transcripts 2011: Rome, the accidental city international workshop programme (13 – 17 December 2011)

 Photo by Claudia Faraone / drawings by Eugenia Fratzeskou


Rome City & Urban Superbia: Drawing the Invisible

guest tutor Dr Eugenia Fratzeskou

host tutor Dr Claudia Faraone


The explicit intention of Transcripts (Manhattan Transcripts ndR) was to describe elements usually removed from conventional architectural representation, that is the complex relationship between spaces and their uses, set and script, between typology and program, between objects and events… going beyond the conventional definition of use and program, the Transcripts used their tentative format to explore unlikely confrontations. [1]

Workshop’s participants will be asked to work on the notion of the ‘accidental’ as found in the city, within the thematic framework of Urban Superbia. The “confrontation” occurs between what can be defined as an evolving Superbia, as something that is visible, mappable, known and thus controlled, as something that sometimes emerges as being hierarchical in the urban space and territory, and Interstitiality, as something that characterises our life in contemporary cities with its elusiveness, as always evolving and accidental, as a part of the fragmentary city growth.

This exploration will be carried out through discovering and exploring the previously unseen and unnoticed ‘interfaces’, interactions and exchanges between those city layers that can be connecting or disruptive, at a visual, architectural, experiential and/or conceptual sense. The workshop will enable participants to challenge spatial and disciplinary boundaries alike, by developing their own innovative drawing-based approaches through various media both at ‘macro’ (city-scape/views) and ‘micro’ levels (neighbourhood/building unit/particular location), engaging with the physical and the virtual layers of the city.

Furthermore, this workshop will provide the opportunity to explore the city as a multi-layered composition, deciphering its multiple ‘skins’ through their readings by artists, architects, urbanists, inhabitants, with the use of various interpretative tools and processes.

An interesting array of questions provides a starting point for reflection: how do we deal with an urban space/object that faces the city from another perspective, from another point of view? Towers, for example, offer another kind of habitat and urbanity. Nevertheless, their use as a way of giving a modern atmosphere to the cities, has become extremely wide-spread, as if the skylines would make the cities look “contemporary”. [2] In Rome however, this approach to the city goes hand in hand with the foundation of the city itself, as situated on the hill surrounding the East side of Tiber River. We are presented with a number of challenges e.g. how do we deal with monumental high places in Rome? [3] Furthermore, how do we deal with the opportunity to encounter the city with a broad horizon, while in some places this horizon is ‘cut’ by buildings, walls and fences?

themes to be explored

The growth and construction of the territorial characteristics of Rome have always been integral to certain discourses, in a Foucaultian sense, with regards to the notion of a city that has been the centre of urban architecture and discourse throughout its history. Since its foundation, its construction has been influenced by two powers: the temporal (power of Popes within civil issues) and the civil, with regards not only to the way it has been built, but also, ‘narrated’. The height of the location was fundamental in showing the above-mentioned power. We could say that they (powers) could be demonstrated by the difference in height. The more the height, the more power you hold. [4] In this perspective, the starting question of the workshop is: which are the places and the architectures that would allow us to look at Rome (the larger, contemporary one) from above?

Being the Capital of the country and a beautiful European historical city, Superbia – defined as “unreasonable and inordinate self-esteem (personified as one of the deadly sins)” [5]– applies to the city in a variety of ways and materializations. In this respect, the shades of meaning given to its synonymous “Pride”, help us explore this semiotic interpretation of the city, where Superbia/Pride is “a feeling of honour and self-respect, a sense of personal worth” and  “pride of place, the most important position” [6].

Therefore, more than a typology of space, the vice suggests a point of view and in particular, high views, and the exclusivity of the vision of the city as viewed from privileged places that sometimes may be unknown/unfamiliar to most people. They may include not only the views of the historical part of the city as seen from hills, such as, Aventino and Gianicolo, but also, private terraces in high-rise buildings of social/public housing as Tor Bella Monaca and Corviale.

In this thematic framework, the notion of the accidental can be found within the unexpected overlapping views as seen from different perspectives and places. The accidental emerges through the contrasts and the complexity of urban forms, their contexts and imaginaries. In this respect urban spaces are “acting with and looking at” their surroundings with pride.

Different types of “superbia” can be deciphered within the city:

  1. forms of landscape and territory: hills (usually with parks or important buildings on their tops).
  2. urban constructions: towers, monuments (in conjunction to their design and history).
  3. luxury living: penthouses & attic rooms, shopping malls.

The history of the city, from its creation to its development into a contemporary city, offers several hints as to what places can be identified as superb in Rome.

Firstly, we have “I Sette Colli di Roma” – the seven hills of Rome – that refer to the early city and all of them are located on the eastern side of Tevere river. All hills have some very important buildings, monuments or parks on their top. Aventino (Aventine Hill), Celio (Caelian Hill), and Esquilino (Esquiline Hill) [7] have parks and Villa Celimontana (the Celio). Palatino (Palatine Hill) is where an archaeological site is situated. Finally, the City Municipality House is situated on Campidoglio (Capitoline Hill), while Quirinale (Quirinal Hill) hosts the house of the President of the Italian Republic. The Interior Affairs’ Ministry occupies Viminale (Viminal Hill). Other hills are also ‘entitled’ to their own kind of ‘pride’, as analogies are drawn between them and the “magic seven” for their beauty, position, context, and for what they represent e.g. Gianicolo is very central to the inhabitants’ imaginaries and ideal visions of the city, and has become a very attractive and desirable public space. We also have the Vatican. Panoramic views of Rome are very few and that’s why all the highest spots have begun to play a very central role in inhabitants’ life and imaginaries[8]. Their centrality and importance has been acquired through experience and practising.

Secondly, there is a number of monuments and towers within urban fabric, ranging from the monuments of the Ancient Rome to those of Fascism (Vittoriano). We finally, arrive to the monumentality of the Modern city after the Second World War that was produced in the eighties, namely, some highly intensive social housing projects made up of towers and high places.

There is a shift from the “monumentality” that communicates power through architecture to the “utopia” of the Modern Movement urban planning that aims to satisfy social needs. The latter include welfare and the need for shelter. The huge demand for housing was answered by powerful and very proud/superb architectonic gestures e.g. Torbella Monaca and Corviale (almost a kilometre long building. It is said to be so massive and robust as to break the Ponentino wind).

Finally, in contemporary Rome, the desire for power and exclusivity lingers on inhabiting penthouses and attic rooms. This happens in a ‘molecular’ way, individually and privately, depending on whether it can be financially affordable. Shopping malls have become privately controlled public spaces. Changing from the sacral (Vaticano), the political (Vittoriano) and the social propaganda (Corviale), Superbia has now become individual. It would be interesting therefore, to look at how people live in their attic rooms and how they occupy shopping malls, through analysing what this means, how it feels and at what kind of city they are looking at.

aims and objectives

The core aim of the workshop is to enable a creative and critical exploration of the dynamically changing and unsettling spatial, informational/data, architectural and cultural layers of the city of Rome, through direct observation across its urban fabric. We’ll explore what can be termed para-, non-, or inter- sites e.g. ad-hoc neighbourhoods, nomads, urban voids, the common resources of the city that can be freely accessible, places that lack ownership, the invisible digital cityscapes etc, in contraposition with the science & technology ‘pride’ as reflected in the most daring buildings, the invisible panopticon and surveillance networks, the state buildings across the city and finally, the purism and idealism of certain urban fragments.

The element of the virtual layers of the city and the focus on revealing interstitiality for enabling an exploration of the tensions, dialogues and/or exchanges between the layers of the physical and the virtual spaces of the city, will enable participants to go beyond the physical materiality of place by looking not simply at the ‘horizon’ or at a ‘view’, but at something which is evolving and transitional, ranging from robust urban materiality to its liminal zones (in both physical and immaterial sense).

One of the main goals of this workshop is to expand and transform the notion of the panorama, for achieving an interpretative process of urban research that would function as an “operative drawing”. This will be achieved through the use of “high views” and “panoramas” as a sort of escamotage for linking together diverse (in terms of time, space and typology) places of Rome.

working methods 

In contemporary art, architecture and the related disciplines, the changing relationship of data flows and data matrices inspires new types of spatial research and practice. As a designed environment, built space can be perceived as a fragment of an excessive superimposition of dynamically interacting algorithmic, geometrical, topological and structural grids. A creative exploration of the data flows into, from and within the physical structures of the built environment, challenges our common assumptions about space and our experience of it.

The issue of ‘mapping’ the physical world has been debated extensively in science and has deeply influenced the formulation of scientific paradigms. As we pass from Modernist reduction and mathematical formalism to contemporary complexity, uncertainty and complementarity, our perception and understanding of the relationship between physical and virtual worlds are changing in the most unexpected manner. In particular, the developments in Quantum physics and scientific visualisation have revealed an emerging kind of multi-dimensionality that characterises the fuzzy boundaries between reality and virtuality and probes new relationships between part and whole. As a result, a new understanding of space and reality in general, as well as of the limitations of science, is developing.[9]

Drawing can be described as ‘interstitial’, as it cuts through the stages of the creation process that may include intention, realisation, evaluation etc. and diverse fields, such as, architecture, psychology, philosophy, perception and others. The primary form of drawing is tracing, also defined as indexical imprint i.e. a visual trail left from a particular process. As such, tracing is relational, and although it involves physical processes, it expands beyond them, as it is a means of forming propositions that can be abstract. In some cases, such a basic form of drawing still affects directly or indirectly the ‘workings’ of even the most advanced types and processes of diagramming (that it too, derives from drawing), computer-generated animation as well as the status, operation and aspects of the intended end-product itself e.g. built architecture.[10]

A diagram always involves the purposeful activity of tracing, through which, it ‘un/re-makes’ reality and unlike an architectural plan, it is non-buildable. Diagram contains a kind of virtuality that, as the architect Greg Lynn explains, contains variable potential.[11] Coined by the architect Bernard Tschumi, “operative drawing” may be created in any discipline, through using any medium provided that, it functions as a purposeful activity of critical thinking and positioning.[12]

Operative drawing involves the following categories: “conceptual diagram”, “transcript”, “transformational sequence” and “interchangeable scalar drawing”. Through “transcript” architectural reality can be interpreted, or in other words, ‘read’, often through theoretical and non-realistic scenarios. “Transformational sequence” includes animation that may be applied not only to forms, but also, to spaces and programmes. Process and end-product are of equal importance. A transformational sequence is ‘open’ if it has no endings, as for example, when it contains concurrent or juxtaposed sequences of another order, and ‘closed’ when it has a predictable end due to the exhaustion, circularity or repetition of process. Finally, the “interchangeable scalar drawing” is essentially, the combination of all the aforementioned categories into a “singular heterogeneous transformational concept”. In contemporary architecture and the related spatial practices, the notion of operative drawing, its categories and their relationships have been continuously changing in many challenging and innovative ways.

The notion of urban transcripts gives us the possibility to combine methods and strategies of drawing and layering with the use of observational video-making in the field of urban research, also expanding into other means and processes of visualisation, documentation and output.[13] For instance, space, actions in space, layers of analysis and frameworks of observation would be combined during the exploration process and its outcomes’ transmission.

Through working with layering and perception, it would be possible to explore how perception works as connected to sight and experience, especially in relationship to the processes of drawing, digital media e.g. digital visualisation, 3D architectural modelling and diagramming, interactive installations, photography and video, for capturing both the space and the immateriality of the city, in a variety of creative ways and outcomes.

Phase 1

a. Experiential mapping & data collection:

The experiential reading and transitory mapping of the heterogeneous city-scape commences with an urban exploration of Rome through a city walk. At this stage, participants will be able to collect information through their preferred means (photography, video, mobile devices, drawing, notes and others). New ways of seeing are developed, challenging what we normally take for granted or escapes our attention. The emphasis is placed on identifying and mapping the by- and half- products of architecture and urban planning, or in other words, interstitial spaces. These spaces may be discovered in the accidental and incidental properties of the city found in emergent territories, areas of complexity, ambiguity, ad-hoc development or experimentation, fragments, voids, undeveloped areas, para-sites, including the non-linear ebbs and flows of the evolving informational texture of the city.

b. Group discussion

The exploration of Rome will be followed by a group discussion on what and how the data has been collected, how the city has been experienced, explored and mapped, the challenges and opportunities for taking forward to the second phase of the project.

Phase 2

Developing Drawing-based Methodologies

Participants are invited to explore drawing as a way of ‘decoding’ the city, not only for revealing what is normally invisible, but also, for expanding its definition and interdisciplinary potential. A successful drawing-based approach shows originality, creativity and depth of critical thinking. There is no restriction as to the types of the materials and digital media that can be used. There may be a possibility of forming small groups if the number of the participants is large.

Phase 3

Outcomes & Critical Discussion

The workshop will culminate in a critical discussion not only of the each project outcome but also of the drawing-based approach that has been developed, as process and outcome are of equal importance.

The end-of-workshop Critical Discussion will enable participants to evaluate how their vision of and engagement with the city have changed, to position and evaluate their work both in terms of process and outcome, and most importantly, to carry forward the challenges and possibilities that arose through their participation in the workshop.

references and suggested reading 

on themes

Annunziata, Sandra, Cossu, Mara, Faraone, Claudia, “Living on the edge: in-between spaces and urban performances in Rome”, in I. Aravot (sous la direction de), PLiC. Public Life in the In-Between-city, actes du colloque international (Technion, I.I.T. Haifa, 6-10 juin 2010)

Attili, Giovanni, “Representations of an Unsettled City: Hypermedial Landscapes in Rome”, in Sandercock, Attili (eds.) Multimedia for Urban Planning: an Exploration of the Next Frontier, Springer, 2010

Aureli, Pier Vittorio, Tattara, Martino,  Rome: The Centre(s) Elsewhere, Geneve: Skira editore, 2010

Berdini, Paolo, La città in vendita, Donzelli, Roma, 2008 (City on sale)

Bertelè, Francesco, Faraone, Claudia, “Overcome Territories”, in Fond. Antonio Ratti et Prod. Nero (sous la direction de), Fragmented Book, Rome: Nero publishing, 2006

Damiani, Giovanni (ed.), Bernard Tschumi, Geneve: Skira editore, 2003

Faraone, Claudia, Recording the City. On observational video-making as an urban research practice, comprising stories, traces and metaphors, PhD thesis, tutor Prof. Piccinato G., cotutor Alessia DeBiase, RomaTre, 2011

Faraone, Claudia, « Looking into the city. On observational videomaking in urbanism », in B. De Meulder, M. Ryckewaert et K. Shannon (sous la direction de), Transcending the Discipline. Urbanism & Urbanization as receptors of multiple practices, discourses and realities, actes du cinquième  séminaire doctorale international « Urbanism&Urbanization » (Louvain, 1-3 octobre 2009)

Insolera, Italo, Roma moderna. Da Napoleone I al XXI secolo, Torino: Piccola Biblioteca Einaudi, 2011 (Nuova edizione ampliata con la collaborazione di Paolo Berdini)

Marcelloni, Maurizio, Ripensare la città contemporanea, Il nuovo piano regolatore di Roma, Roma: Laterza, 2003. (Rethinking the contemporary city. The new Masterplan of Rome)

Secchi, Bernardo, La città del ventesimo secolo, Laterza: Bari, 2005 (20th Century City)

on working methods

Essays by Dr Eugenia Fratzeskou in Digimag (Digicult)

Eisenman, Peter, Diagram diaries, London: Thames & Hudson, 1999.

Fratzeskou, Eugenia, “Inventing New Modes of Digital Visualisation in Contemporary Art” in Special Issue “Transactions,” Leonardo 41, No. 4 (2008), p. 422.

Fratzeskou, Eugenia, “Unfolding Space”, in ISEA2010 RUHR: Conference Proceedings, http://www.isea2010ruhr.org/files/redaktion/pdf/isea2010_proceedings_p53_fratzeskou.pdf, pp.491-2.

Fratzeskou, Eugenia, Visualising Boolean Set Operations: Real & Virtual Boundaries in Contemporary Site-Specific Art, LAP – Lambert Academic Publishing, 2009.

Fratzeskou, Eugenia, New Types of Drawing in Fine Art: The Role of Fluidity in the Creation Process, LAP – Lambert Academic Publishing, 2010

Fratzeskou, Eugenia, Operative Intersections: Between Site-Specific Drawing and Spatial Digital Diagramming, LAP – Lambert Academic Publishing, 2010.

Haque, Usman in Bakke, Monika ed., Going Aerial. Air, Art, Architecture, Maastricht: Jan Van Eyck Academie, 2006.

Lynn, Greg, Animate Form, New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1999.

Manovich, Lev, 2005, The Poetics of Augmented Space, http://www.manovich.net/DOCS/Augmented_2005.doc.

Tschumi, Bernard, “Operative Drawing”, in De Zegher, Catherine & M. Wigley, eds., The Activist Drawing: Retracing Situationist Architectures from Constant’s New Babylon to Beyond, MIT Press, 2001.

[1]  From the introduction to the Manhattan Transcripts in Damiani, Giovanni (ed.), Bernard Tschumi, Geneve: Skira, 2003, page 34

[2] During the last years in Italy, there has been a broad debate about building towers in historical cities in terms of their sustainability. In this respect, is quite useful to refer to a research project developed for Paris “Habiter en hauter à Paris” http://www.laa.archi.fr/spip.php?article158

[3] refer to PhD thesis by Aureli, Pier Vittorio, “La citta arcipelago e il suo progetto”, tutor Elia Zenghelis, coordinator Bernardo Secchi

[4] “Whatever the case, the real city of seven hills (Rome ndR) was much narrower than that of the seven hills. The inhabitants of the mountains, so-called “Montanari”, enjoyed special priviledges, as if they were true “Romans of Rome,” while the Pagans, e.g. the inhabitants of the villages (pagi) located at the periphery, were considered a bit as boors.” http://www.strennadeiromanisti.it/romanisti/strenna-dei-romanisti-1942/monti-veri-e-monti-falsi.html

[6]  Collins English Dictionary entries in http://www.thefreedictionary.com/pride

[7]  For the multicultural life and appropriation of Esquilino park refer to the research work made by Giovanni Attili and described in “Representations of an Unsettled City: Hypermedial Landscapes in Rome”, in Sandercock, Attili (eds.) “Multimedia for Urban Planning: an Exploration of the Next Frontier”, Springer, 2010

[8] The projection of a place in people’s mind, an idea, an image that can be very far from the real space,and  that usually is shared among a certain amount of people (think about Rome for tourists, nice green parks/neighbourhood for inhabitants, the imaginary produced by a movie on a place) and it becomes social if widely spread.

[9] For ‘informationalism’ and ways of visualising and interacting with invisible virtual city-scapes see Manovich, Lev, 2005, The Poetics of Augmented Space, http://www.manovich.net/DOCS/Augmented_2005.doc. and Haque, Usman in Bakke, Monika ed., Going Aerial. Air, Art, Architecture, Maastricht: Jan Van Eyck Academie, 2006.

[10] For an extensive investigation on ‘interstitial space’ see Dr Eugenia Fratzeskou’s postdoctoral research papers published in Digimag (Digicult). Eisenman, Peter, Diagram diaries, London: Thames & Hudson, 1999, Fratzeskou, Eugenia, “Inventing New Modes of Digital Visualisation in Contemporary Art” in Special Issue “Transactions,” Leonardo 41, No. 4 (2008), p. 422, Fratzeskou, Eugenia, “Unfolding Space”, in ISEA2010 RUHR: Conference Proceedings, http://www.isea2010ruhr.org/files/redaktion/pdf/isea2010_proceedings_p53_fratzeskou.pdf, pp.491-2, Fratzeskou, Eugenia, Visualising Boolean Set Operations: Real & Virtual Boundaries in Contemporary Site-Specific Art, LAP – Lambert Academic Publishing, 2009, Fratzeskou, Eugenia, New Types of Drawing in Fine Art: The Role of Fluidity in the Creation Process, LAP – Lambert Academic Publishing, 2010, Fratzeskou, Eugenia, Operative Intersections: Between Site-Specific Drawing and Spatial Digital Diagramming, LAP – Lambert Academic Publishing, 2010.

[11] Lynn, Greg, Animate Form, New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1999.

[12] Tschumi, Bernard, “Operative Drawing”, in De Zegher, Catherine & M. Wigley, eds., The Activist Drawing: Retracing Situationist Architectures from Constant’s New Babylon to Beyond, MIT Press, 2001.

[13] Refer to the PhD thesis by Faraone, Claudia, “Recording the City. On observational video-making as an urban research practice, comprising stories, traces and metaphors”, tutor Prof. Piccinato G., co-tutor Alessia DeBiase, RomaTre, 2011

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