presented by

Department of Architecture,
School of Design and Environment,
National University of Singapore
School of Architecture Design and Planning,
The University of Sydney


Architecture at a Distance

edited by Matthew MINDRUP and Lilian CHEE



In light of the increasing globalisation of architecture and the effect which the recent pandemic has had upon the discipline, remote practice has become a timely and relevant topic of architectural discourse.

This book brings together leading architectural thinkers, including Joan Ockman, Paul Emmons, Naomi Stead, Philip Ursprung and Jane Rendell to discuss how architecture is created and discussed at a distance.



Earlier this year we proposed a CFP entitled “remote practices” to explore how architecture’s complex and distant interfaces are being intensified through a mass globalisation of the discipline. In it we sought to explore how the remote practice of architecture has become inherent in the way phases of early ideation to late production could take on surprising transformations as architects and critics use different tools to manifest ideas and imaginations to the otherwise distant and invisible; to design, describe and critique future and past constructions in absentia.

As people retreated to their homes in the recent pandemic, the business of doing architecture in schools and offices also shifted into their temporary holding spaces. It made many of the issues we wished to discuss in the original CFP more timely. Architecture, a discipline which thrives on expression and imagination, and which had already been remotely practised by way of translation across different media and sites, now takes on a further dimension of distancing; this time in the absence of a physical community of architects, designers, teachers and students.

The distances between these different modes of doing architecture—drawings, diagrams and models, manifestos and critiques in the printed form; augmented reality walkthroughs and digital films; digital prefabrication technologies, and the built form—create several thresholds by which architecture may already be understood as a remote practice. In the past few months the practice and education of architecture has faced a temporary cessation of travel, closure of many construction sites and an absence of office environments where ideas can be openly discussed and materialised through conversation. What are the local and global implications which the remote practice of architecture entails, for the pedagogy, practice and critique of architecture?

We invite papers and creative work to participate in a symposium focusing on the following areas:



Rather than a session of innovative online teaching modalities, we seek papers that explore what it means to teach architecture at a distance. Contrary to the remote practices already operating in global architectural production, architectural education has been slow in its uptake, and at odds with recognising the full potentials of an online learning environment.1 Yet with the pandemic, virtual studios were quickly enforced. What does it mean to teach design face-to-face, and what is lost in translation? What values might there still be for the haptic and analog modes of learning-through-making, in a shift from physical to virtual? What opportunities and new knowledges do remote practices offer for testing and running experimental ways of learning?


1. Sharon Haar, ‘The “Pivot”,’ in David Smiley, Alison Hirsch, Iñaki Alday, Kim Anno, Greg Lindquist, Keith Eggener, Linda C. Samuels, Arda İnceoğlu, Lori Brown, Marc J. Neveu, Kristi Cheramie, Sharon Haar, ‘Field Notes on Pandemic Teaching: 4,’ Places Journal, April 2020. Accessed 05 May 2020. <https://placesjournal.org/article/field-notes-on-pandemic-teaching-4/&gt;



If anything, a pandemic has made the remote practice of architecture a global reality.2 Already some main challenges are apparent in the rapid technological transformation of design practices. Virtual teams experience communication gaps; virtual architects are disconnected from the material environment which their designs aim to intervene with.3 Yet in these new norms, what might remote field-working methods offer as discoveries in lieu of access to real/physical sites?4 New trends might see mono-disciplinary architectural offices replaced by flexible networks of collaborative design practices; each working on parts of a larger project.5 How would authorship in architecture be redefined? Are there precedents for new forms of collaborative authorship to emerge?


2. Experts speculate that the ‘faster technological revolution’ spurred by the pandemic will continue into the future, with the heightened adoption of remote practices reorganising how design work is produced and communicated across distances to stakeholders. See: Zaheer Allam, Gaetan Siew and Felix Fokoua, ‘The Cause of Wonder and Worry Over Digital Cities Post Virus,’ ArchDaily, April 28, 2020. Accessed 5 May 2020. <https://www.archdaily.com/938484/the-cause-of-wonder-and-worry-over-digital-cities-post-virus/&gt;

3. Questions have been posed of the virtual site visit and fieldwork in which grounded encounters still seem irreplaceable. See: Pola Mora, ‘Trends Report: How Architects are working from Home,’ ArchDaily, March 31, 2020. Accessed 5 May 2020. <https://www.archdaily.com/936691/trends-report-how-architects-are-working-from-home/&gt;

4. Alison B. Hirsch, untitled notes, in David Smiley, Alison Hirsch, Iñaki Alday, Kim Anno, Greg Lindquist, Keith Eggener, Linda C. Samuels, Arda İnceoğlu, Lori Brown, Marc J. Neveu, Kristi Cheramie, Sharon Haar, ‘Field Notes on Pandemic Teaching: 4,’ Places Journal, April 2020. Accessed 04 May 2020. <https://placesjournal.org/article/field-notes-on-pandemic-teaching-4/&gt;

5. Phil Bernstein, ‘Phil Bernstein Shares Ten Thoughts on the Future of Practice,’ Architectural Record, April 24, 2020. Accessed 3 May 2020. <https://www.architecturalrecord.com/articles/14585-phil-bernstein-shares-ten-thoughts-on-the-future-of-practice&gt;



Before the pandemic, questions about place were disrupted by social media. However, shelter-in-place forced us to rethink home as a physical place. The architectural community has begun to critically reflect on the shifting spatial paradigms of inside-outside, private-public, and home-workplace that remote practices have emphasised.6 Yet, creativity and criticality may be risked in the distancing and fragmentation of education and practice.7 There is thus a need for increased open-access to collective knowledge, digital archives and resources in order for remote research/education/working methods to reach their fullest potentials.8 What alternative modes of creative energy and critical discourse might be borne from architecture’s contingent and emergent remote practices?


6. Reinhold Martin, Susan Piedmont-Palladino, Brent Sturlaugson, Barbara Penner, Harriet Harriss, Judith Rodenbeck, Sandy Isenstadt, Anna Livia Brand, Iman Ansari, Hélène Frichot, Brett Milligan, ‘Field Notes on Pandemic Teaching: 1,’ Places Journal, April 2020. Accessed 04 May 2020. <https://placesjournal.org/article/field-notes-on-pandemic-teaching-1/&gt;

7. Philip Ursprung, ‘Common (Back)ground,’ in Johan Pries, Andrew Herscher, Hugh Campbell, Shannon Mattern, Erin Moore, Rasmus Hansen, Frederick Steiner, Mireille Roddier, Mira Schor, Shelly Silver, Charles Davis, Philip Ursprung, ‘Field Notes on Pandemic Teaching: 3,’ Places Journal, April 2020. Accessed 04 May 2020. <https://placesjournal.org/article/field-notes-on-pandemic-teaching-3/&gt;

8. Barbara Penner, untitled notes, in Martin, et. al.

Keynote Speakers


Washington-Alexandria Architecture Center of Virginia Tech, School of Architecture and Design


The Bartlett School of Architecture, Faculty of the Built Environment, University College London


University of Pennsylvania, Stuart Weitzman School of Design


The Bartlett School of Architecture, Faculty of the Built Environment, University College London


Department of Architecture, Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture, Monash University


Department of Architecture, ETH Zürich



Architecture in Proximity

Organised By

Lilian Chee, PhD

National University of Singapore
Department of Architecture, School of Design and Environment

Matthew Mindrup, PhD

The University of Sydney
School of Architecture Design and Planning

Organising Committee

Lilian Chee
Erik G. L’Heureux
Matthew Mindrup
Wong Zi Hao
RxD Research by Design Cluster, DoA
Mun Qin Jie Ian
Fawwaz Bin Azhar

Graphics & Web Design

Lin Derong

Photo Contributors

Lilian Chee, Jason Cheong, Natalie Cheung, Cheryl Chung Zhi Wei, Toby Fong Khee Chong, Erik G. L’Heureux, Valerie Khong, Pennie Kwan Jia Wen, Liew Yuqi, Kate Lim, Lin Derong, Felicia Lin, Liu Guofeng, Lee Jing Han, Jolene Lee, Nicholas Lua, Mun Qin Jie Ian, Claudia Sonia Nam, Alvan Ng, Ng Yi Hui Mary Ann, Ong Chan Hao, Poh Wei Bing, David Siow, Eunice Siow, Peter Sim, Su Myat Noe Niang, Swee Yew Yong, Sy Lyn Yong, Studio Super Safari, Tan Chiew Hui, Jeanette Tan, Tan Jing Min, Andrew Teo, Shawn Teo, Sharmaine Toh, Wong Zihao, Wu Yu-Chen, Yang Weichuan, Zhai Siyu, Zhang Linwang

Cover Drawings: Goi Yong Chern (2020), Emma Lau (2020), Lin Derong (2018), Anthea Phua (2020)

Funding Body

The University of Sydney – National University of Singapore Partnership Collaboration Awards 2020

Office of Global Engagement | Level 3, Administration Building (F23) | The University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia

Office of the Deputy President (Research and Technology) | National University of Singapore | 21 Lower Kent Ridge Road, Singapore 119077


Queries: remotepractices@gmail.com
Registration: remotepractices.reg@gmail.com

© NUS and USydney, 2020