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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter 2021

Performing the Architectural Plan: Egocentric and Allocentric Drawing

From the book Arts & Dementia

  • Yeoryia Manolopoulou


Elaborating on experiments in spatial cognition and representation from the Losing Myself project, this chapter highlights the confines of the architectural plan as a drawing medium that privileges an allocentric conception of space, one that is progressively lost to those living with dementia. The chapter describes an alternative, performative mode of drawing that animates the architectural plan and incorporates egocentric representation, a more direct, person-centered conception of space that is retained for longer as we age. Architects had not considered the egocentric and allocentric functions of spatial reference that occur in the human brain before. Allocentric spatial referencing requires a sophisticated form of mental manipulation whereby the world is understood by assessing and imagining multiple spatial relationships between objects and is dependent on the ability to retain a mental image of the whole. In egocentric spatial referencing, the brain makes simpler connections, however only between the viewer’s position and the observed objects. Studies of aging show a greater preservation of egocentric functions in the brain and a marked decline in the more complex allocentric processes, alongside a weakening of the ability to switch between the two. A loss of allocentric abilities is common to all forms of Alzheimer’s disease. In Losing Myself, a collaborative investigation of dementia and architecture, Yeoryia Manolopoulou and Niall McLaughlin developed a kind of performance drawing that synthesizes both allocentric and egocentric representation. This novel drawing method fosters a deeper understanding of how architecture is experienced, and how we might approach its design. ‘Performing’ the architectural plan simultaneously creates temporal and empathetic connections between the space of building as experienced in time by different occupants and the space of drawing produced by multiple authors.

© 2020 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Munich/Boston
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