ZARCH Publication now available!


I am very pleased to see our articlePedagogical approaches to embodied topography: a workshop that unravels the hidden and imaginary landscapes of Elaionas,‘ get published in ZARCH Journal and I am also very happy to share this with you. It is based on a collaborative project that began in 2015 with Prof. Nelly Marda and Christos Kakalis from the University of Newcastle along with the students of our postgraduate course in NTUA.

The article highlights the importance of mapping in urban design and uses the concept of embodied topography to describe how activating the human body through a series of sensory motor tasks can help individuals immerse themselves in the landscape to acquire a better understanding of the urban phenomena. This process is presented here as a tool of mapping and managing the complexity of the urban landscape as it enables the individuals to recover the more hidden or even imaginary aspects of the city and their own relation to it.

As this is an ongoing research I hope that there will be plenty of opportunities to discuss what we are doing with more people involved in this kind of research in urban design. So, feel free to comment and write back your own experiences on the matter.

ZARCH: Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies in Architecture and Urbanism, Num. 8, image available here

A10 cooperative’s meeting in Amsterdam


Last week many of the A10 new European architecture correspondents met in Amsterdam. It was our first meeting since the cooperative’s official establishment and naturally there was a lot to talk about. Interestingly enough, despite our diverse backgrounds we’ve discovered that we have a lot in common and that we share a common perspective on where we want to go with this publication in the near future. It was a real pleasure for me to be part of this process and I look forward to materializing our intentions.

In the meantime, we’ve already completed the first phase of the EU Survey on the culture of architectural competitions in collaboration with Architectuur Lokaal and a first volume of the work in progress is now available. The conference held on the 28th and the 29th of September for the EU Survey was a great opportunity for us to discuss our findings and elaborate on many concepts related to the architectural competitions’ tradition and practices. Many thanks to Walter Menteth and Cillie Jansen for showing us Special mention to Antigone Katsakou and her book entitled ‘The Competition Grid: Experimenting With and Within Architecture Competitions,’ (soon to be published by RIBA) as well as to Jonas Andersson and Magnus Ronn for their book ‘Architectural Competitions-Histories and Practice,’ available here. Special mention also goes to Angel Borrego Cubero and his film “The Competition” which was screened during day II.

Other new undertakings will soon be announced as well. I’ll keep you posted.


Second Image belongs to Tarja Nurmi 


The culture of architectural competitions in Europe

Architectuur Lokaal along with A10 new european architecture cooperative have published their latest results of an EU Survey regarding architectural competitions in Europe. This issue constitutes their primary contribution to the discourse and is presented in this international conference in Amsterdam today. I am very happy to be part of this audience and share insights with the rest of the team. This volume is a valuable tool in understanding how the competition system works in Europe and I look forward to the next phase! 
The research is an ongoing project of Architectuur Lokaal and is programmed to be implemented over a period of four years with the aim to improve access to competitions, to analyze procedures, to establish a network of organizations and to collect case studies of good and bad practice. 

Images (c) Indira Van’t Klooster

Education Related Research


The three themes that address this connection are:

  • research as complex learning: In educational research, the goals are to understand and influence significant social practices that are inherently complicated, dynamic, and changeable (…) The generalizability of educational research is obviously challenged by differences among people and contexts, but time and space also matter.
  • research valid for applied outcomes:  To meet the considerable challenges of practical applications, educational research must meet high standards of scientific inquiry (…) Our first point under this theme is the importance of establishing a conceptual framework as a foundation (…) A second point about quality centers on methodological adequacy (…) A third point that has emerged from our experiences centers around generalizability methods  to extend the concept of test reliability
  • research on the application of research to practice: The third theme centers around the possibilities and problems of applying “what we know,” realizing that knowledge is always imperfect. Given the research base of the highest quality, engineering is required to fit the results to new and different settings. Primary among the challenges to this task in education is the disconnect between the worlds of research and practice.



Calfee, R. C., Miller, R.G., Norman, K., Wilson K., Trainin, G., 2006. Learning to Do Educational Research. In Translating Theory and Research Into Educational Practice: Developments in Content Domains, Large-Scale Reform, and Intellectual Capacity, edited by Mark A. Constas and Robert J. Sternberg, Mahwah, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, pp. 77-104

Image available here

Complexity Theory II (M. Woermann)

complexity theory toc

Restricted Complexity

It is generally recognized that complex systems are comprised of multiple, inter-related processes. In terms of restricted complexity, the goal of scientific practices is to study these processes, in order to uncover the rules or laws of complexity (…) complexity becomes the umbrella term for the ideas of chaos, fractals, disorder, and uncertainty. Despite the difficulty of the subject matter, it is believed that, with enough time and effort, we will be able to construct a unified theory of complexity – also referred to as the ‘Theory of Complexity’ (TOC) or the ‘Theory of Everything’ (TOE) (…) Seth Lloyd, a professor in mechanical engineering at MIT, has compiled a list of 31 different ways in which one can define complexity!

General Complexity

If we accept the fact that things are inherently complex, then it means that we cannot know phenomena in their full complexity. In other words, complex phenomena are irreducible. Acknowledging complexity therefore has a profound impact not only on the status of scientific practices, but also on the status of our knowledge claims as such. More specifically, because our knowledge of complex phenomena is limited, our practices should be informed by, and subject to, a self-critical rationality (…) Acknowledging the irreducible nature of complexity also influences our understanding of the general features of complexity

Features of Complex Systems:

  • Complex Systems are constituted by richly interconnected components
  • The component parts of complex systems have a double identity premised on both a diversity and a unity principle
  • Upward and Downward causation give rise to complex structures: the competitive and cooperative interactions between component parts on a local level give rise to self-organisation which is defined as ‘a process whereby a system can develop a complex structure from fairly unstructured beginnings’
  • Complex Systems exhibit self-organizing and emergent behavior: Self-organisation is a necessary condition for emergence, which is defined as ‘the idea that there are properties at a certain level of organization which cannot be predicted from the properties found at lower levels but not sufficient!
  • Complex Systems are Open Systems: the intelligibility of open systems can only be understood in terms of their relation with the environment (…) there is an energy, material, or information transfer into or out of a given system’s boundary (…)   the environment cannot be appropriated by the system, so the boundary between a system and its environment should be treated both as a real, physical category, and a mental category or ideal model



Woermann, M., 2011. What is complexity theory? Features and Implications. Systems Engineering Newsletter, 30, 1-8, available here

Image available here

Complexity Theory


All the properties that follow:

  • A system is complex when it is composed of many parts that interconnect in intricate ways
  • A system presents dynamic complexity when cause and effect are subtle, over time.
  • A system is complex when it is composed of a group of related units (subsystems), for which the degree and nature of the relationships is imperfectly known. The overall emergent behavior is difficult to predict, even when subsystem behavior is readily predictable. Small changes in inputs or parameters may produce large changes in behavior
  • A complex system has a set of different elements so connected or related as to perform a unique function not performable by the elements alone
  • Scientific complexity relates to the behavior of macroscopic collections of units endowed with the potential to evolve in time
  • Complexity theory and chaos theory both attempt to reconcile the unpredictability of non-linear dynamic systems with a sense of underlying order and structure

make up for this definition I like sooo much:

Complexity is the property of a real world system that is manifest in the inability of any one formalism being adequate to capture all its properties.



Ferreira, P., 2001. Tracing Complexity Theory. Full presentation available here

Image available here