CONFERENCE by: UCD Dublin, Ireland. Published: October 2, 2017.

ARENA DR_SoM: Postponed – new date will be announced soon!

Design Research, Series on Method

UCD Dublin, Ireland
Postponed – new date will be announced soon!
Session 6


Camera as Medium and Method of Design
On architectural research questions, and how photography can address them

Photograph © Abelardo Morell

The ARENA DR_SoM groups architects and architectural design researchers to share with peers their experiences. This will not be done in a theoretical way, but based instead on the presentation of current design and research work. A Scientific Committee will select 10-15 proposals for presentation at the event.

The sixth session of DR_SoM (Design Research Series on Method) will take place at the School of Architecture, Planning and Environmental Policy, University College Dublin, Ireland. Rather than looking for theoretical contributions about the relationship between photography and architectural design, we are looking for researchers and inquiring practitioners who actively engage with photography as a medium for exploration and design. There is a significant body of research relating to the depiction of architecture and of cities through photography. In this formulation, photography is thought of as a medium that comes after architecture – it documents results more than it contributes to the process itself. And yet, the camera and the photographic image can undoubtedly be used at every stage and every scale of the architectural process. There are many contemporary examples of this – from the collaborations of Philip Schaerer with Markus Boltshauser or Bas Princen with KGDVS – as well as historic antecedents (the Smithsons’ use of Nigel Hamilton’s photographs, for instance). With due regard to this lineage, we would like to look at current activity in this territory.


Areas to consider might include the following:

Cameras and lens-based technologies play an increasing role in the survey and documentation of sites. How might the images and data produced begin to play an active role in the development of design strategies? How can the camera and photograph assist in the consideration of questions of material, construction and making? Its capacity for detailed, scrupulous seeing is relatively rarely deployed in the exploration of surfaces and textures or in the qualities of mass and density.
How can found and borrowed photographs serve as prompts and aids to the design process? How might particular aesthetics, compositional strategies, spatial configurations on the one hand, or social, cultural and political sensibilities on the other hand, serve to inform an approach to making architecture?
How might the camera’s established capacities to render space and form be used in evolving an architectural design? For instance, the use of photographs of large models as design tools has become quite widespread both within schools and in practice. But perhaps there are other less laborious, more speedy means of registering the qualities of an emerging design through camerawork?

The inherent relationship of the device of the camera – a shut room with a single aperture – and architectural space is often rehearsed. But how might this fundamental reciprocity manifest itself in a design process or a finished project?
Prompted by such considerations, and open to others, this symposium will aim to open up new perspectives and generate useful discussion on photography as the medium and the method for exploration within architectural design and research.


Proposals, registration, publication

The DR_SoM seminar at Dublin will take place on Friday 1 and Saturday 2 December 2017. There will be no parallel sessions. There is no registration fee; however, the number of participants will be limited to 30, of whom a maximum of 10 to 15 researchers can present their research. For each presentation, a timeslot of about 40’ provides plenty of time for presentation and discussion. Discussions will be held as a round-table debate.

Candidates who wish to present their research send an abstract of no more than 250 words, (and any additional graphic material, if required) in pdf to before Monday 25 September 2017 9 October 2017. Selections will be made by the scientific committee, and communicated on 13 October 2017 16 October 2017. As far as the number of participants allow, researchers and practitioners can join the session and contribute to the debate without presenting; please contact
Full papers are not required as we recognize work in progress. On the contrary, participants are invited to write an illustrated paper afterwards. The accepted papers will be published as an ARENA open-access on-line publication, with a print-on-demand option, as part of the DR_SoM series (with ISBN and ISSN number) by BK Books Delft. For the first issue of this series, take a look at:

For any questions related to content of this, the sixth DR_SoM session in Dublin, please contact Hugh Campbell at for any questions related to practicalities and organisation please contact Dervla MacManus at For any questions on the project of DR_SoM in general, contact Johan De Walsche at


2017-10-09  |  Abstract submissions
2017-10-16  |  Notification of Acceptance

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UCD Dublin, Ireland