Peter Zumthor – Serpentine Pavilion

Peter Zumthor’s Serpentine pavilion illustrates the principles of interiority and exteriory through the expression of the boundary as a corridor and point of porosity between inside and outside spaces which are both, in this case, dedicated to nature. The ‘outside’ is Kensington Gardens, relatively manicured to provide the visual and spatial ideals of Victorian public space in England. The ‘inside’ is an open air garden of wildflowers irrigated directly by the fall of a roof which also acts as a pergola and shelter, where visitors can sit and converse in relative intimacy while contemplating flowers and vegetation at the core of the cloister.

Extract from Movement and Flow at the Boundary. Claude St Arroman, 2011. Metadesigners Open Network

edited 6 December, 2015 by Dan Mifsud

Associated Practices


Rowan Moore (2014) argues that it is a terrible misconception to think that architecture is a visual art. To the extent that you do indeed see architecture, it is still not a purely visual experience. When you look at something, you interpret it, you make associations, find memories evoked, gain a greater or lesser sense of the physical efforts and skill that went into making a structure. Architecture does not work with one sense alone, but with synaesthetic hybrids. Such synaesthetic hybrids can be understood as narrative environments.

Philip Johnson thinks that it is the modern perversion of photography that freezes architecture to three dimensions or, in some buildings, to two dimensions. However, Johnson argues, architecture is surely not the design of space, certainly not the massing or organizing of volumes. These are auxiliary to the main point which is the organization of procession. Architecture exists only in time.

At the dawn of the 21st century, Charles Jencks (2003) perceived the beginnings of a new paradigm emerging in architecture. It related, Jencks thought, to a deep transformation going on in the sciences, which, in time, will permeate all other areas of life. The new sciences of complexity, which concern such notions as fractals, nonlinear dynamics, the new cosmology and self-organising systems, have brought about this change in perspective. We have moved from a mechanistic view of the universe to one that is self-organising at all levels, from the atom to the galaxy. Illuminated by the computer, this new worldview is paralleled by changes now occurring in architecture.


Derrida, J. (1986). Point de Folie – maintenant l’architecture. Available from 8/DerridaPointdeFolie.pdf [Accessed 1 June 2017].

Jencks, C. (2003). The New paradigm in architecture. Hunch. Available from [Accessed 8 October 2011].

Johnson, P. (1965). Whence & whither: the processional element in architecture. Perspectiva, 9/10 167–178. Available from http://www.jstor.or/stable/1566915 [Accessed 8 June 2011].

Moore, R. (2014). A masterclass in spatial awareness. [Sensing Spaces : Architecture Reimagined – review]. Observer, 26 January, 33. Available from [Accessed 30 January 2014].

Edited on 1 June 2017 by Allan parsons

edited 18 November, 2018 by Mr. Administrator

(Shedroff, N. )  Experience Design is an approach to creating successful experiences for people in any medium. This approach includes consideration and design in all 3 spatial dimensions, over time, all 5 common senses, and interactivity, as well as customer value, personal meaning, and emotional context. Experience Design is not merely the design of Web pages or other interactive media or on-screen digital content. Designed experiences can be in any medium, including spatial/environmental installations, print products, hard products, services, broadcast images and sounds, live performances and events, digital and online media, etc

edited 5 October, 2015 by Admin
edited 5 October, 2015 by Admin

Associated Terms

Of liminal spaces

In anthropology, liminality (from the Latin word līmen, meaning “a threshold”) is the quality of ambiguity or disorientation that occurs in the middle stage of rituals (a psychic/temporal/physical space), when participants no longer hold their pre-ritual status but have not yet begun the transition to the status they will hold when the ritual is complete. During a ritual’s liminal stage (that is, in the liminal space), participants “stand at the threshold” between their previous way of structuring their identity, time, or community, and a new way, which the ritual establishes.

Derived from the writings of Victor Turner

The anthropological definition, while not of direct interest to Narrative Environment design, underpins most other current definitions of liminality and thence, liminal spaces, which most certainly are of interest to NE design.

edited 27 November, 2015 by Stuart Jones

Associated Terms in context


in Narrative environment design

As will be clear from the definition of audience in other practices, it refers to a collective: either a collective that is conscious of its collected self, as in theatre or music, or completely unaware and dispersed, as in television. This makes it a problematic term in narrative environment design, where most often the environment is expected to be experienced on a one-to-one basis by individuals who do not perceive themselves as a collective. Terms from ‘visitor’ through to ‘perticipant’ are in this sense much less problematic. However, in some narrative environments, especially where multi user interaction is present, individual participants can fuse into an active collective. This relates to ‘audience participation’, which is long standing in the theatre, particularly since the 1960s. For example, “Akropolis” directed by Jerzy Grotowski: in it the company of actors (representing concentration camp prisoners) build the structure of a crematorium around the audience while acting out stories from the Bible and Greek mythology. Later, in “The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus” based on the Elizabethan drama by Marlowe, foregoing the use of props altogether, Grotowski let the actors’ bodies represent different objects, establishing an intimate dynamic of relation between actors and spectators by seating audience members as the guests at Faust’s last supper, with the action unfolding on and around the (human) table where they were seated. These kinds of theatrical performances can be viewed as antecedents to contemporary narrative interaction based design.

Stuart Jones

edited 4 September, 2018 by Admin


in Narrative environment design

The Environment is that which surrounds, and the objects which hold the meaning specific to that environment.

In the MA CPfNE course definition, environment is a space we read or experience as dimensional and ‘physical’, whether it’s real or virtual or imaginary, and 1, 2, 3 or 4D.

edited 4 September, 2018 by Admin

Liminal Spaces

in Narrative environment design

A liminal space can be a key component of a Narrative Environment. A liminal space can be either a physical or a temporal space, and often both at the same time, but it is always a psychic space.

Liminal spaces are places/times in which the audience is disorientated/moved from their normative assessment of ‘reality’ in order to prepare them for a different ‘reality’ presented in the main Narrative Space.

Here is a lovely account of a temporal liminal space, from Daisetz Suzuki, a 20th century Zen Master:

Suzuki: “Before Zen, men are men and mountains are mountains. During Zen, things get a little mixed up. After Zen, men are men and mountains are mountains.” Questioner: “what’s the difference?” Suzuki: “No difference, only feet a little bit off the ground.”

Some background: since the work of Turner in the 60s, usage of the term liminality has broadened to refer to political and cultural change. During liminal periods of all kinds, social hierarchies may be reversed or temporarily dissolved, continuity of tradition may become uncertain, and future outcomes once taken for granted may be thrown into doubt. The dissolution of order during liminality creates a fluid, malleable situation that enables new institutions and customs to become established.

Powerful stuff, as you can see.

Bjørn Thomassen, 2009,The Uses and Meanings of Liminality (International Political Anthropology ) p. 51

Agnes Horvath, Bjørn Thomassen, and Harald Wydra, 2009, Introduction: Liminality and Cultures of Change (International Political Anthropology )

Arpad Szakolczai,2009, Liminality and Experience: Structuring transitory situations and transformative events (International Political Anthropology ) p. 141

Liminal spaces are closely related to thresholds. (not just etymologically).

edited 4 September, 2018 by Stuart Jones


in Narrative environment design

The threshold is the point at which we move from one space, state, set of ideas, view, to another. Before we cross the threshold we are outside, after we cross we are inside (a different world). Usually, but not always, when we stand at the threshold we can see what we are entering.

Thresholds are important in Narrative Environment design, which often asks the audience to move from one world to another when moving from one space to another. Thresholds and threshold moments have to be carefully designed as they are so important to the succeeding experience. (see Reception Theory).

See also liminal spaces.

edited 4 September, 2018 by Stuart Jones