About TACK TACK Book How to Use What is Tacit Knowledge?

Return to archive


Rooms: Architectural Model-Making as Ethnographic Research


Ecaterina Stefanescu

↑ Back to top
June 20, 2023

Within design and architecture, scale models can create worlds of proposition, speculation and fiction. This paper situates the model as a tool for observation, documentation and engagement; a slow, durational method that manifests a deep participation in the lives of place and people marginalised by wider society. Rooms was an artistic and research project undertaken as part of the Urban Nation artistic residency in Berlin which looked at the Romanian immigrant community inhabiting the city, the spaces they occupy and appropriate, and the objects that they surround themselves with. These instances were drawn, surveyed, documented and then recreated through 1:20 paper models. Built to an extreme level of detail the models of everyday space visualise, offer new insight, and give a sense of value and recognition to the lived realities of individuals. A situated mode of research, this form of representation transforms the seemingly mundane into an object of beauty and atmosphere, encouraging access and participation from the participant, maker and the viewer. The inherently collaborative aspect of this process reveals the tacit, implicit knowledge present in everyday actions.

This paper will be presented at the TACK Conference in the paper session VECTORS, 20 June 2023 between 14:30 – 17:00 (CEST) at ETH Zürich (Auditorium HPV G5).

Ecaterina Stefanescu is an architectural designer, artist and lecturer based in Preston, UK, where she teaches architecture at the Grenfell-Baines Institute of Architecture, UCLan. Ecaterina uses live-build, model-making and drawing as tools for exploration, investigation and participation in her artistic and research work to respond to place and material cultures of people.