[ISEA2011] Paper: Banu Pekol – BodyCAD: Creative architectural design through digital embodiment


Architecture incorporates the possibility of action which naturally is tied to a bodily reaction. Any structure that aims to be evocative should go beyond being a something to look at. Unsurprisingly, the same can be said about choreography. In the second half of the 20th century, J. J. Gibson challenged the concept of visual perception and demonstrated that it is part of a perceptual system which actively involves locomotor movement. This paper aims to demonstrate how architectural education can be enriched through digital spatial analysis tools which stem from the need for an enhanced bodily awareness for architects.

Even if the architect has internal processes of her own, it is the external forces that shape the architecture itself. From this dichotomy arises a gap, which I will engage with, not retreat from, by incorporating the body and movement into architectural creation. Although the phenomenon is a direct consequence of the Beaux-Arts system, especially in the 21st century, architecture has retreated into an exclusive and self-referential world. Although the architectural outcomes look radically different, the processes that are used to achieve these outcomes are similar.

Bringing together my post-doctoral research on the subject as well as experience from courses I have taught to architects on embodied design, this research will deal with the question of how the use of digital media in architectural design can propose creative conditions for movement and how movement creates similar openings for architecture. Architecture is taken here in the context not only of the built environment but in that of the multiple groundings and environments for movement. Finally, this re-shaping of space-creation through digital tools will be presented as an educational model based on the creation of an informed architecture that invites ways of moving through not just bodily gestures of the humans themselves but relational architectural interventions.

  • Banu Pekol. After attending Cognitive Science classes at Cornell University (USA) as an undergraduate student, Banu Pekol was educated at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London, UK, specializing on geometry and proportions in Western European Late Gothic Architecture. She completed her PhD at the Istanbul Technical University, in the department of Architectural History focusing on the reuse of historic structures for new purposes, and its meaning for design and collective memory. She has taught various theory, design and history courses at the Istanbul Technical University, Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University, Istanbul Bilgi University, Kadir Has University and Isık University. As a graduate of classical ballet and continuing to practice contemporary dance, she has been experimenting on methods to merge architecture and movement/dance, as part of the boDig collective. These experiments involve both theoretical work on perception, materiality and the virtual, and the use of new media in kinetic research, including real-time interaction, 3D models and actual sites.

Full text (PDF) p. 1878-1883