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Spaces like Actions is a research project investigating live qualities of space. The project focuses on people interaction with architectural environments, observing how daily actions, rituals and stories take place in tangible and physical forms and become the invisible matter of the built space. Architecture is interpreted as a collective sedimentation of stories and meanings, where each space embodies a layered identity built through pluripersonal use. Considering immaterial use as important as physical space, we are gathering a collection of living situations, aimed at showing how spaceactions are tied together in the intensity of a place.

Most words can be translated from one language to another, but there are some words which are so unique that a whole sentence is needed to explain their meaning in another language. That is the kind of spaceactions we are interested in: untranslatable spaces, unique items which do not have any direct association to other spatial cultures. We focus on spaces which are built and used at the margins of mass production and which diverge from any international standard or generic use. We would like to highlight spaces and stories which lie at the background of our environments, and to reclaim them as valuable and creative living possibilities.

Each spaceaction collected here is a typology, meaning that its patterns are repeated in several similar items and the repetition creates a specific - although dynamic - community of users. We can imagine these spaceactions as a physical language for their users, a common spatial alphabet shared by a cultural group. Rather than a fixed idea of identity, we intend spatial culture as a fluid, inclusive, multiple and ever changing sense of belonging and personal commitment to a place. As the cultures they belong to, spaces and actions are not static but are subject to continuous variations, reinterpretation, repurposing.

Who we are

Spaces like Actions is a collaborative research project initiated in 2017 and curated by Cristina Gallizioli, Marco Ferrari and Maria Giulia Milani. The project is supported by a multidisciplinary growing team, is open to participation and consists in two sections: Atlas / a collection of spaces gathered through an open call // Insights / a set of thematic studies based on long durational field research.

As a team, we reflect over the idea of authorship connected with this project: most of the collected spaces and stories are a collaborative construction of matter and meaning, where users are the main authors activating space through their bodies. Therefore, the team involved in writing the stories is not the creator of these spaces, but rather their narrator.

Narrating a space is inevitably an act of translation: from physical experience to linguistic form, from a pluricultural situation to a personal definition, from language to language, from subjective experience to shared knowledge. We don’t aim at giving scientific definitions of our spaces, but we value the subjectivity of every translation and embrace it as a method to preserve multiplicity. We believe in embodied experience rather than abstract knowledge, and invite to use inhabiting as a personal research tool with communicative potential for collective inspiration.

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“There is not just one way of doing things, but a pluriverse of spatial inventions to be explored: our aim is to release the imaginative potential of alternatives, illuminating the multitude of living possibilities able to enrich architecture with their variety and diversity.”