Theme: A Step Across the Border


Here you can find the program of the week!  programmagide2017


  • what to bring
  • how to reach Lugano
  • Accomodation
  • Banner for the Exhibition



The GIDE Lugano 2017 workshop theme of a “Step Across the Border” aimed to step beyond the visible reality and established way of analysing human spatial interactions in urban spaces by inviting interdisciplianry student teams from –

Visual Communication

Industrial Design Interaction

Interior Architecture

Interior Environmental Design

….to explore the sociology of space. The “sociology” of space examines the social and material constitution of spaces. It is concerned with understanding the social practices, institutional forces and material complexities of how humans and spaces interact. This is important to examine as it challenges the dominant way in which we perceive and ‘read’ architecture in particular (and interior design specifically). Often, we allow our ocular centric tendencies to dominate our thinking as designers and this can be further distorted by media [mis]representation of the built environment.

However, if we can refocus our minds, and our eyes and recalibrate our attitudes as artists, we may begin to see different layers of human spatial interactions that were previously obscured. Human behaviours help us to understand, reflect and design spaces and time differently however, we seldom ‘take-time’ to look through new eyes and in an experiment with different tools to enrich our practice. This workshop encouraged students to observe and investigate the sociology of spaces and places- rather than scan their surfaces- to discover and highlight what we can call “boundary moments” which are sometimes invisible for us.

During the workshop interdisciplinary student teams focused on human behaviours which were being played out -perhaps unconsciously by the user, but sometimes ‘beyond’ our normal visual radar somewhere in urban space around Lugano. Different design tools and methods were required to reveal these invisible boundaries.

HOW                                                                                                                                                   Nine teams were required to use, as their urban muse, a specific area of the city of Lugano to explore the transitory or more prolonged interaction between human behaviours and the spaces they occupied either fleetingly or for more prolonged periods of time. Teams were required to select two (in)visible “boundary moments” occurring in their selected site and enacted by the people they were observing. Teams were required to explore interior and exterior urban spaces and focus their collective effort on only one of the observed “boundary moments”. This was later elaborated in a critical statement and a short video documentary. A further poster component supported the main concepts, observations and design rational for the work for the public. The use of video/film was deliberate- partly to acknowledge the dominant role this art form plays in young student’s social media encounters, but, more significantly, it reflected the experimental cinéma-vérité trigger “A Step Across the Border’ – an improvised film of the same name by Nicolas Humbert and Werner Penzel. used in the opening symposium lecture.

” A Step Across the Border” was the working title of the GIDE International Design and Architecture Workshop held between 06 – 09 Feb 2017 at the SUPSI, Dipartimento Ambiente Costruzioni e Design -Interior Architecture, Campus Trevano, Lugano, Switzerland as part of a continued programme of workshops pioneered by GIDE. This brought together seven European schools and a Chinese school to explore the theme of the border.

The theme of the border is indispensable for the disciplines of design and architecture and is closely linked to the international ethos of the GIDE network where the interweaving of linguistic, disciplinary, methodological, social and political boundaries across the various GIDE countries is central.

Touching on aspects of cinéma-vérité and on a theoretical framework related to space sociology and anthropology, hundreds of international students and teachers explored the theme initially through exploratory urban walks within Lugano. The purpose of the original week-long workshop was to understand the nature and the process of setting up a spatial boundary depending on the behaviour of people living, passing through and otherwise ‘occupying’ a space.

At the end of the workshop team videos were exhibited and presented to the public in an exhibition organized in the recently renovated Macello di Lugano. In addition to being designed and devised by the SUPSI Interior Architecture team, local authorities and stakeholders where involved in the topic of the workshop.


During the exploration of each observable, heard, sensed or perceived “boundary moments” being played out in the site, teams were required to carefully observe users. Teams had to be guided by the people flow, human behaviours and the moments that occurred: a design approach that required improvisation:

“It is the moment that counts, the intuitive sense of what is happening in the space.” . (Nicolas Humbert and Werner Penzel about the film “Step Across the Border”)

The video documentary is in effect a spatial documentation, an inquiry, a design and a representation tool, able to capture and communicate the interactions between space and human behaviour in a specific timeframe.

Each team was required to produce:
– a short documentary, max. 3 minutes, which describe an (in)visible “boundary moment”
– a short documentary poster (50x70cm)

Delivery deadline: 9 February 2017, at 2.30 pm.

Final team outputs were presented and displayed in the Ex-Macello of Lugano for the duration of the exhibition until Sunday12th February 2017.


(*) The “sociology” of space examines the social and material constitution of spaces. It is concerned with understanding the social practices, institutional forces, and material complexity of how humans and spaces interact.



Step Across the Border. Reg. Nicolas Humbert and Werner Penzel. RecRec (Switzerland), 1990. Film.
– Löw Martina. “The Sociology of Space – Materiality, Social Structures, and Action.”
New York: Palgrave Macmillan US, 2016. See also -> SPACE THINKS? Sociological concepts of space of Sergej Stoetze