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Site Complexes: Models of Responsive Practices for the 21st Century

NOMIS Project 2024

— 2026

What can we learn from art and architecture? How do buildings and artworks relate to and create connections with their surroundings? Sites are seen as intersecting and overlapping zones of historically sedimented as well as current and emerging factors. Focusing on selected works and projects in art and architecture since the 1970s, the research project Site Complexes: Models of Responsive Practices for the 21st Century aims to describe and evaluate the transformation of sites performed by specific artworks and architectures through the unfolding of this complex of conditions.

Site Complexes is exploring the processes by which the works, designs and buildings connect the set of conditions that determine their sites to an only partially defined future. These processes are models of responsive practices that do not attempt to adapt a site to predefined principles but rather react to and learn from its complexity. The researchers are investigating these processes as different ways of dealing responsibly with ecological, social, infrastructural and other layers that define a shared reality.

Based on the detailed descriptive recording of the selected objects and processes—what has happened, what is happening, when and where—the team is highlighting the specific methods and techniques of artistic and architectural intervention. The research aims to demonstrate the model character of the singular cases that form the project’s material and thus to detect and demonstrate patterns of an organized interplay between site-conditioning and site-transforming factors, which can be compared with each other. The individual studies, developed in constant collaboration, will thus establish a typology of site complexes and of their “responsible” artistic and architectural transformation.

This typology serves to communicate the research team’s findings in the interdisciplinary exchange of art and architecture as well as in public discourse on the qualities of future developments. Contributing basic research on the concept and concrete procedures of site-responsive practices, the project seeks to encourage dialogue across disciplines, including sociology, urban studies/urban anthropology, environmental sciences, human geography and postcolonial studies, as well as fields of practice, such as cultural heritage, materials research and redevelopment issues. Site Complexes is exploring the possibilities for a responsible coexistence on our ever-changing planet.

Site Complexes: Models of Responsive Practices for the 21st Century is being led by Sebastian Egenhofer at the University of Vienna, Austria, and Stefan Neuner and Susanne Hauser at the Berlin University of the Arts, Germany.


NOMIS Researcher(s)

Professor of art history and theory
Berlin University of the Arts
Professor of art history and cultural studies
Berlin University of the Arts