Created by potrace 1.12, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2015


Enabling Spaces: Shifts/ Drifts/ Paradoxes in Contemporary Public Space. Living Politics in the City


This symposium builds on the conversations started at the symposium ‘Leaving Traces: Living Politics in the City’ held in Rennes in November 2018. It will be held on July 15-16, 2019, and is organised by the Centre for Design Innovation at Swinburne University and the GRIEF Laboratory research at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture de Bretagne in collaboration with the University of Rennes 2 in Rennes, France, and RMIT’s Centre for Urban Research in Melbourne, Australia. 

Space can be performed, made, manifested, enacted, marked, inhabited, occupied. It is taken and re-taken, territorialised and de-territorialised and re-territorialised, it is endlessly becoming. All these processes enable space to be more than geographical location, thus gaining symbolic dimensions and thus able to communicate. 

The private and public spheres entangle a different enactment of space: the private sphere is more perceived as a natural realm for self-nesting, while the public one is understood in terms of (neutral) sharing. But public space is far from being neutral nor is its sharing equitable. Metaphors like ‘stage’ and ‘arena’, often used in relation to public space, are symptomatic of this. 

In addition to these explicit or implicit tensions, and sometimes in direct relation to them, the public sphere involves permeability between publicity and privacy: the assumed privacy of domestic spaces, the semi-privacy of ritual spaces, the semi-publicness of commercial spaces and the publicness of streets, squares and parks. But all these different degrees rest on distinctions and conventions that are becoming increasingly blurred. Public spaces may be privately owned, front of house becomes back of house, television makes a public spectacle of idealised domestic space and social media reveals unintended aspects of private identities or facilitates façades for alternative public ones. Moreover, those deprived of space – people experiencing homelessness, migrants, refugees live their intimacy in public, constantly scrutinized, controlled and denied privacy. 

How can the enablement of space be read or reinterpreted in this context? Which politics become possible and how are they foreclosed or facilitated by new and hybrid forms of public space? If democracy supposedly rests on distinctions between private and public, what is its role today as these categories become increasingly blurred? What has it meant to be political in public space and in what ways does contemporary public space enable forms of political action?

In addressing these issues, we seek to stress the potential for exploring the connections and contradictions, tensions and paradoxes in contemporary public space which may or may not have parallels with past examples.

Specific questions include, but are not limited to the following:

  • What new forms of identity and agency can take place through the private occupation of public space (whether temporary or permanent), and in whose interests? Do acts of appropriation by one party necessarily mean displacement of others, and which others?
  • Beyond formal laws of ownership, what are the informal rules that define or create contemporary public space?
  • What are the layers of individual or collective relationships at play in public space? This may or may not include interactions between physicality and virtuality.
  • What are the relationships between legal definitions, public policy positions and cultural values about public space?


We invite scholars, practitioners and activists with an interest in urban public space, from historical, political, cultural, creative and social perspectives to engage with these questions and the possibilities they raise. We seek papers that focus on a range of manifestations that reach beyond the material domain of architectural and urban space to embrace intersecting political, social and economic realms. 

You are kindly invited to send your abstract (maximum 400 words) and your short bio (1000 words) to Carmen Popescu ([email protected]) and Flavia Marcello ([email protected]) by 24th March, 2019.

Notification of acceptance: 15th April 2019.

Revised abstracts: 27th May 2019. 

The symposium is free and will have no paid keynotes. Instead, it will provide a limited number of travel and conference scholarships to maximise participation for applicants without institutional support.

DATTA Research Conference 2018 (prev. TERC)


10th Biennial International DATTA-Research Conference 2018 (prev. TERC)



Swinburne University of Technology

with Swinburne Senior Secondary College next door.


5 - 8 December 2018, bookmark this date!
John Street, Hawthorn, Victoria, Australia.

Conference theme: 

Fostering applied design-led innovation capabilities: how do we know we are doing it better than any other subject?

Watch this link for Call for Papers during October 2017:


The world we make defines us: so we better make good decisions!  Increasingly, applied design-led innovation capability is a sought after new generation skill-set combining creativity and technical knowledge required for both industry and community life.   From emergent play to sophisticated pioneering capabilities, this international event asks:

  •  ‘What must be the reformed vision for design and technology education that assures its future as a necessary and highly invested field of learning?’
  •  ‘How can design and technology assert itself as the lead provider of applied design-led innovation capability? A capability that uniquely develops the integrated mind and fosters innovation attributes that last a pupil’s lifetime.’


Swinburne's Factory of the Future


For more information contact:

Assoc. Professor Kurt Seemann at the Centre for Design Innovation at Swinburne: [email protected]

Laura Murphy at DATTA Vic: [email protected]

Google Map Reference for Swinburne


Event Layout (as at May 2017) DOWNLOAD HERE

Leaving Traces - Living Politics in the City


Call for Participation for a study-day organised by the Laboratory of research GRIEF (ENSA Bretagne, Rennes, France), The Centre for Design Innovation at Swinburne University (Melbourne, Australia) and RMIT Centre for Urban Research (Melbourne, Australia).


Addendum*: After receiving an overwhelming number of abstracts for this symposium, a Leaving Traces 2 symposium is currently being organized to be held at Swinburne in 2019. 16 fantastic papers have already been submitted under 5 themes:

  • Writing on the walls
  • Appropriating the city
  • The politicized polis
  • Public space
  • Art as a political tool


(Official and unofficial political discourse in Montesacro, Rome. Photo by Flavia Marcello)

Public space and life in the polis were from the beginning tightly connected, both in terms of city governance and shared actions of its inhabitants. Whether carefully designed or loosely articulated, public space shapes behaviour, providing a frame for the norms and rules of society. At the same time, it implicitly invites transgression. From the agora of Athens to the central squares in the former Communist Bloc, from the streets of San Francisco to the paths in the favelas or other informal communities, public spaces are arenas of political expression, where official discourse and unofficial voices meet/ overlap/ come into conflict with each other.

If official channels of political discourse are well-documented and built into the socio-political structures of modern society, unofficial means of expression are less studied. From explicit forms of protest to furtive integration, we are particularly interested in scenarios where distinctions between official and unofficial political discourses become blurred. This study day will examine how unofficial political voices are made manifest in the urban realm by focusing on one or more of the following questions:

  • What tactics are used to make these unofficial voices ‘audible’?
  • How does political expression turn the city into a space of dynamic visuality?
  • What is the impact of ephemeral events on public space?


By questioning a certain normativity (but not only), we seek to stress the connections and the tensions between officially shaped (and designed) public spaces and unofficially used, occupied or appropriated places and/ or itineraries. By viewing political expressions – be they official or unofficial – in this way, we also want to question the very meaning of ‘what is political’.

We invite scholars from the fields of architecture, urban studies, history, political, cultural or social studies and art to engage with these broad concepts. We seek papers that focus on the analysis of both historical and contemporary case studies exploring how the urban realm can shape, frame and even incite political discourse. Presentations can address a range of manifestations in both material forms (from posters, graffiti, art interventions to simple placement of objects) and immaterial practices (rallies, protests, soap boxes, public speeches, art events, etc.).

Send your abstract (300 words) and your short bio (1000 words) to Carmen Popescu ([email protected]), Flavia Marcello ([email protected]) and Ian Woodcock ([email protected]) by July 31, 2018.

The study day will be held on November 22, 2018, and is organised by the Laboratory of research GRIEF, at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture de Bretagne in Rennes, France, the Centre for Design Innovation at Swinburne University and RMIT Centre for Urban Research, in Melbourne, Australia. It will take place at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture de Bretagne, 44, boulevard de Chézy, Rennes.

Speakers will have to ensure they cover travel expenses, we will try to provide a number of fellowships supporting these expenses. Accommodation will be provided for all speakers.

Please note that the language of the study day will be French and English.

2018 Chancellor's Lecture


The CDI would like to extend a warm invitation to the 2018 Chancellor's Lecture, to be held on August 16th in the ATC101 Lecture hall of Swinburne's Hawthorn campus.

More information on the night, including background information about our guest lecturer Professor Peter Choong, can be found here:

Please register through the below link.




Eco Impact Co-Design Series


An upcoming Co-Design Series hosted by Paper Giant will focus on the development of sustainable systems for design practitioners, featuring the CDI’s Dr Gavin Melles in a key speaker role.

The event aims to “decouple and interrogate environmental tools against service design methods” in an effort to develop the skills of students and practitioners alike and embed environmental thinking into progressive service design practice.

Led by Ms Katie Potter, a Swinburne graduate now part of the Melbourne City Innovation Lab, Eco Impact acts as an outlet for students to gain awareness around what is currently driving trends in design innovation, and in turn refine their own core behaviours and beliefs.

Dr Melles will speak on the influence and measure of service design practice, which will consult a number of key stakeholders to evaluate the environmental impact of a range of design initiatives.

The free event will take place on the 8th and 15th of August, and tickets are available through the supplied link: Co-Design Series

Image courtesy of Eco Impact Co-Design Series
Load more