Architectural Landscapes of Resistance: Carnivalesque framings of agency (RSD12)

Ruoxi Li*, Tom Scholte, Claudia Westermann

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book or Report/Conference proceedingConference Proceedingpeer-review


This presentation endeavors to expand the perspectives of conventional theatrical performance, while concurrently nurturing architectural paradigms that visualize theatre as an embodiment of public performance intricately grounded within communal spaces. Here, theatre connects to its carnivalesque origin and actively initiates agency, exploring possibilities of social change.
In the first part, the presentation mentions the carnival as a foundation for performances that inverse established power relationships. It introduces the Russian philosopher Mikhail Bakhtin's “carnivalesque” as a basic principle and the introduction of performance to daily life to re-define social order and heal social suffering. Given the amalgamation of architectural elements with the spirit of carnival, I shall coin the term 'Carnivalesque Architecture' to characterize this distinctive form. The research is based on an undergraduate final-year project in Suzhou, China, which attempted to offer a platform for engaging marginalized voices in dialogue. Through these interactions, which include human-to-human and human-to-architecture dynamics, along with a re-evaluation of the underlying meanings embedded within them, we enable the examination of new approaches to address longstanding challenges. Ultimately, this contributes to the endeavor of fostering a sustainable community. The second section examines Augusto Boal’s theory of theatre to explore the diverse connotations of theatre in modern society in more depth with a focus on their potential to generate social transformation through theatre art forms.
This presentation is part of the Ecopoetic Formations for Transgenerational Collaboration scheme for which four junior designers were paired with four senior members of the American Society for Cybernetics. The scheme was initiated in July 2023. It aims to provide the junior designers with an introduction to systemic design and assist them in developing their existing graduation projects or parts of these further by integrating systems theory and systemic design principles. This presentation provides an overview of the "Architectural landscapes of resistance: carnivalesque framings of agency" undergraduate design project and the ideas developed in an associated essay by Ruoxi Li (junior collaborator), which serves as a basis for the collaboration with Tom Scholte (senior collaborator). The presentation further reports on the ideas, designs and thoughts the junior and senior collaborators have developed from July onwards.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design (RSD12)
PublisherSystemic Design Association
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 15 Aug 2023


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