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GaSP! Globalisation and Spatial Practice


SSoA Theory Forum

Border Topologies

A one-day symposium that addressed the topic of borders through a topological theoretical framework. It brought together architects, artists and academics around three sessions, geo-political borders, ecological borders and border methodology.


Metaphors such as channels and filters describe the selective nature of contemporary political borders by foregrounding the contradictions of movement and flow on the one hand and hardened barriers on the other. At the same time, contemporary border studies have shown the border to be a complex social and cultural institution that operates topologically. Yet, the political border is usually represented as a line and is predominantly viewed as such in policymaking through a top-down international relations perspective. How can architectural research allow a more nuanced relationship with different types of borders? How do we represent borders as topological spaces rather than the flat two-dimensional planes of standard maps? What happens when rigid political borders cross fluid ecologies? How are ecological borders acknowledged or not in planning and design?

Ecological borders not only operate at the level of the landscape or territory, but also at the level of the body. Posthumanist discourse blurs the borders of who or what we consider human. In a technologically mediated world, where does the border between the body and the environment lie? Traditionally the humanities have been concerned with the Enlightenment ideal of the human, but how might the humanities contribute now that we are all, following Rosi Braidotti, at the same time more and less than human. For the architectural humanities, the question could be one of mediation. If architecture as practice has traditionally mediated between humans and the built environment how might it now act as a mediator between different spaces, species and ecologies.

Borders are here conceptualised as political, ecological and social. We would like to explore what approaches and methods are required for a critical engagement with these different types of border spaces. We aim to explore these and other related questions through theoretical, methodological and design based approaches.