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MC: Krzysztof Nawratek: Between Linear Thinking and Spatial World-Building

When May 06, 2021
from 10:00 to 02:00
Where Online
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Human life is a topological exercise. It starts in a particular place and time and ends in a precise spatial and temporal location. In several mythologies human life is represented as a thread spun from a spindle - when the tread ends, the life ends. The human body shapes a long, continuous, convoluted but linear space that could be mapped and analysed during the whole life. There are no breaks in that space. The interaction between human beings and the world is spatial and mediated by the human body, but is not limited by the surface of our skin. We are holobionts, we live together with 2kg of bacteria in our guts and with many many species existing far beyond our direct embodied experience.


There is something deterministic in the narrative thinking, in trying to ‘make sense’, there is something brutally oppressive, maybe even cruel. The logic of the narration organises the existences and actions of all actors included in it. Narratives are used by political regimes, by forces claiming and reproducing hegemonic positions. Narratives aim to organise, dominate, to establish an order. Michel de Certeau while discussing human activities in the city, made a distinction on strategy (which I would equal with the narrative) - imposed by the authorities and actors being in positions of power; and tactics - tools used by individuals trying to find their way in the city. We, individual humans, do not create narratives (strategies), we tell stories (use tactics).


Architects are not strangers to narrative thinking. On the contrary, architects tend to serve powerful forces; they design orderly organised spaces, spaces representing a particular set of values; architectural spaces aim to manage human activities in a designed way. The spaces' sequence, particular elements of buildings like doors or windows could become something entirely different from what they have been designed for. Space may also be seen and live-through in different scales. Architecture does not need to be for humans only. The porosity of a concrete wall gives just a haptic experience to humans but is the whole universe for bacterias or funguses. The change in scale, from a bacteria living in our body to the whole ecosystems we are part of puts linear thinking in question and opens up how we can (should?) engage with the world around us. More through our living bodies, less through narratives we tell ourselves.


The proposed workshop aims to explore tensions between creating narratives, telling stories and living-through spaces. It will start with pre-workshop exercises when participants are asked to conduct a few spatial journeys in different scales and using various interpretative tools. The Workshop itself (four hours) will be organised in three stages, first stage will focus on presentations and interpretations of conducted exercises; second will focus on a broader problematisation of notions of space, narrative, story and scale (based on suggested literature); the third will focus on a process of creating individual tools participants will be able to use in their future intellectual work.




Datta, Ayona, and Nabeela Ahmed. "Mapping Gendered Infrastructures: Critical

Reflections on Violence Against Women in India." Architectural Design 90.4 (2020): 104-111.

“Feral Atlas”: (accessed 15.03.2021)

Ingold, Tim. "Transformations of the line: Traces, threads and surfaces." Textile 8.1 (2010): 10-35.

“Introduction to Feral Atlas by Feral Atlas Collective – Making Matters Symposium 2020”: (accessed 15.03.2021)

Nawratek, Krzysztof. "Territory, Space, Place, and Beyond." Total Urban Mobilisation. Palgrave Pivot, Singapore, 2019. 11-21.

Weizman, Eyal. "Walking through walls." Radical Philosophy 136.March/April (2006): 8-22.


// Dr. Krzysztof Nawratek (The University of Sheffield, UK)

Dr. Krzysztof Nawratek is a Senior Lecturer in Architecture and Humanities at the School of Architecture at the University of Sheffield, UK. Prior to this lectureship he was an Associate Professor in Architecture and MArch (RIBA Part 2) programme leader at the Plymouth University. He has worked as an architect and urban designer in Poland, Latvia and Ireland and as a researcher at the National Institute for Regional and Spatial Analysis (NIRSA), Maynooth, Ireland. His main research interest lies in urban theory in the context of post-secular philosophy, he is interested in the crisis of the contemporary (neoliberal) city model, radical inclusivity and urban re-industrialisation.

He is also member of the University of Sheffield research group “Spaces, Cultures, and Politics”.

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