Architectural Probes of the Infraordinary: Social Coexistence through Everyday Spaces

Publications: Book / Anthology / Thesis / ReportPh.D. thesis


This research project investigates the infraordinary as a condition and catalyst for social coexistence and interaction. The term infraordinary is used to describe what is worn invisible by daily use and as an opposite to the extraordinary. It is the overall claim that the infraordinary dimension of the city plays a vital role for the social coexistence of and the correlation between its inhabitants. In an era of explosive growth of our cities, it is crucial to critically examine the everyday social dimension, if our cities are to be liveable in the future.

To enquire into the everyday topography, a tactical research methodology is adopted, informed by a variety of alternative artistic and interdisciplinary practices, different from the prevalent working methods within architectural

The research is facilitated and structured in a series of urban biopsies, where a range of spaces identified as infraordinary are explored from within. The urban biopsies should be seen as critical spatial practices. Some of the identified spaces are emerging directly from my own subjective life-world. Through this rigorous procedure, actual excerpts and fragments of the city are extracted. As a consequence, they are closer to the perspective of lived experience than the overall macro-view often favoured by architects and planners. Within this research project, the specificity of the given situation is embraced, rather than trying to create universal claims.

Accordingly, the research project introduces two conceptual approaches for probing into and interrogating the infraordinary: frameworks of perception and situated probes. Both are deployed in order to get at distance of the familiar and by-pass the usual hierarchies of perception to gain new knowledge. These critical spatial practices span an interdisciplinary territory from initial constraining techniques for seeing different, literary devices, various photographic apparatuses, moving pictures and interactive installations.

The urban biopsies, performed in Denmark, United Kingdom, Norway and the United States, bring together manifold perspectives on the infraordinary as a catalyst of social coexistence. Ultimately, in this dissertation, these are compiled into and presented through the narrative of The Infraordinary City.

This research endeavour, as experimental practice, is not prescriptive, but an explorative supplement to existing practices, built on an implicit critique of the current procedures of the profession. Consequently, this research project
contributes with a range of possible routes to understanding the everyday topography and our social coexistence within it, through an alternative and more nuanced prospect. Through my critical spatial practice, the infraordinary is uncovered in a micro-scale in order to see new opportunities for spatial invention - and potentially inform large-scale planning and the architectural discourse at large.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationAarhus
PublisherArkitektskolen Aarhus
Number of pages450
Publication statusPublished - 14 Mar 2017


  • infraordinary
  • research-by-design
  • artistic research
  • urbanism
  • georges perec
  • architectural probes
  • urban biopsies
  • social coexistence
  • social interaction

Artistic research

  • Yes

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