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Chair BSI-citydev – lesson 3 : Aesthetics and Empathy (Birgit Clottens)

How can we identify with the dead objects around us?

We suffer from an inability to identify with everyday objects. In 1908, Worringer declared in his book “Abstraction and Empathy” that beauty stems from our feeling of being able to identify with an object, reflecting a trust in the world.

The need for abstraction, on the other hand, gives a completely different response to the world: it expresses “man’s insecurity”.

Does the current trend towards abstraction in design lead to our inability to relate to objects? How can we design objects in which we recognise ourselves and in which we feel emotions?

In this conference, we will examine design tools and techniques to introduce the notion of self-recognition into our environment, to enable us to better recognise ourselves in it on the one hand and, on the other hand, to create a sense of trust in the age of populism.

Self-identification in design, alienation from abstraction and connectivity through empathy will be the themes addressed in this third conference.

Birgit Clottens

Civil engineer-architect and associate director in architecture. Birgit has been working at ORG since 2014. Here she is managing the project for the new administrative centre for the municipality of Beveren, from conception to execution. She also led the study for the transformation of the Europalaan in Genk.

Birgit has more than 10 years of experience in the design and execution of large-scale building and infrastructure projects. Prior to joining ORG, Birgit was an associate architect at the prestigious architecture firm of Foster + Partners in London and Singapore, where she worked on high-profile projects in Europe, Asia and the United States.

Birgit Clottens obtained her Master’s degree in Civil Engineering Architecture at the K.U. Leuven. She has also been active in project teaching and jury work there.


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