CONFERENCE by: EAAE. Published: January 18, 2018.

Symposium ‘ENABLE’

The ‘Enable’ Symposium is organised as a tribute to Prof. Johan Verbeke († August 6, 2017)


Book publication in memory of Prof. Dr. Johan Verbeke
Founding Alive Architecture, Dr. Petra Pferdmenges


The European Association for Architectural Education (EAAE), the Architectural Research European Network Association (ARENA), the European Institute for Comparative Urban Research (EURICUR), the association for Education and research in Computer Aided Architectural Design in Europe (eCAADe) and the European League of Institutes of the Arts (ELIA) continue to dedicate themselves to the development of research in all fields of architecture, technology, design and arts. This also includes subjects such as environmental design, sustainable development, interior design, landscape architecture, urban design/urbanism, music, performing arts, visual arts, product design, social design, interaction design, etc.

Together they are organising a symposium as a tribute to professor Johan Verbeke. The symposium is building further on Johan’s critical approach, his advocacy for designerly thinking in research, his plea for research through design, based on the insights as they emerge during design practice. It is also building further on Johan’s vision to bring together arts and architecture, design and performance, from product design to landscape.

This symposium is called ‘ENABLE’, because we want to discuss the deployability and impact of design thinking, research and practice. This discussion and the cross-over with stakeholders outside the design world, governments, private companies, management thinking can be combined in notions such as ‘activating’ and ‘enabling’. Enable means

to make able; to give power, means, competence, or ability to; to authorise

to give (someone) the authority or means to do something; to make it possible for

to empower, to facilitate, to implement

How does the research field of practices reaches out towards building developers, city policy, city planning? And how is the design world reacting to questions and challenges generated from these ‘external’ stakeholders?

Design researchers and PhD students will be able to participate in an environment dealing with research outside the architectural or artistic discipline and research within design studios.

The symposium is structured around three half days with three themes derived from the ‘Enable’-concept: ‘Slow modelling’, ‘Impurity’ and ‘Form influence’. Each theme will include discussants from within and outside academia. Students, end-users and policy makers will be welcomed in each panel.

The symposium will be hosted on 20th – 22th April 2018 at KU Leuven Faculty of Architecture Campus Sint-Lucas Ghent and in the WTC24, near the Campus Sint-Lucas Brussels , in collaboration with EAAE, ARENA, EURICUR, eCAADe and ELIA. The aim is to create an international event at which discussants can present and discuss contributions in well-orchestrated ‘think tank’ plenary debate-panels. The discussants will choose for one of the above mentioned subthemes when submitting an abstract for the symposium. The abstract will describe in 1 page a position/statement contributing to one or more questions as formulated in the programme.

Each subtheme will be accompanied with an exhibition (Academic Design Offices KU Leuven).

On both locations of the symposium a part of the exhibition ‘a tribute to Johan’ will be visible. For this exhibition, we invite participants to provide 1 object/poster that stands for itself to be exhibited during the symposium.

Rapporteurs will have the responsibility to report back at the end of the symposium. The results of this report will be used for a journal publication or other publication afterwards. Several rapporteurs are needed for each theme, they will follow the discussions and report during the closing meeting.

Theme 1 slow modelling
The digitalisation, new economies related to this digitalisation and new technologies make us think we are living in a fast world. How should/can we use designing models, mockups, augmented reality, coping with the slowness needed for thorough investigation? How can artists and designers enable scientists to look further/deeper/elsewhere? Which economies enable artists and designers to explore further/deeper/elsewhere? And what do we think about the notion of “emergence”: which actions to undertake, which conditions to create in order to reach this state of emergence, of having insights emerge?

Possible angles of approach:
Longer, better and deep investigations versus fast and easy app-approaches / Drawings and models connecting people / Architecture education wider than architecture / Poetical and technical methods of representation combined / Can we learn from the game industry? / Research on representation ‘for all’ / Outdated digital representation / Possibility of critical drawing / Drawing experiences / Political images / Professional practice as the construction of an oeuvre rather than a project (= attention for what can grow on the long term instead of what is created in the instance of a project) / …

Theme 2 impurity
Smart cities give us the impression that we can create perfect cities. What to do in a smart way, knowing that most of our built environments are impure?

Possible angles of approach:
Is technology a strange component in relation to the somewhat synthetic design research? / Impurity as a quality / Applied or fundamental research when dealing with urbanism / Embracing complexity / Collective space in dispersed urbanity as a joint arrangement / City planning, a very weak discipline? / Hybrid characters as an asset? / Mobility as ‘the’ new structure / Esthetics used in conflicts of interest in real estate development / Landscape urbanism on the move / Popular culture and cultural exchange: who determines what is beautiful (c’est jolie n’est-ce-pas?) / …

Theme 3 form influence
Exploring the relationship between the autonomy of the built form and the influence this built form has on the city and its inhabitants is not evident. Is it necessary to keep on trying it?

Possible angles of approach:
Techniques and their logic and rules / New economies taking over / Role of end-users / Helix model / Economy often generating highly specific but also highly sustainable and resilient buildings / Resilient cultures / Spaces / Industrial buildings as the best examples


2018-02-20  |  Submission of abstracts for peer review: DEADLINE EXTENDED!
2018-02-26  |  Notification of acceptance
2018-02-26  |  Registration possible
2018-04-20  |  Conference


April 20, 2018


20th and 21st April 2018:
KU Leuven, Faculty of Architecture, Campus Sint-Lucas, Hoogstraat 51, B-9000 Ghent

22nd April:
WTC24, Koning Albert II-Laan 30, B-1000 Brussel, floor 24, near Campus Sint-Lucas Brussels