Performing Openness Episodes of Walking Urban Narratives

  • Christos Kakalis School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape of Newcastle University
  • Stella Mygdali University of Edinburgh


This paper examines the role of narrative in the briefing and performing of the actions held by the international network Urban Emptiness. The network proposes an interdisciplinary investigation of emptiness and silence through workshops in different contemporary cities. Narrative is examined here as the protagonist of performative explorations of different layers of the urban fabric that might even be hidden or unnoticed.

Focus is on two groups of events held in Edinburgh and Athens. Organically interconnected these two clusters of actions explored narrative in briefing process (using performative, deconstructing and montage methodologies), performance (walking itineraries, oral history, site/process specific designed sketchbooks), documentation and communication. Of particular interest was the investigation of ‘narrative threads’ between the different episodes by introducing thread-workshops which were shifting the focus and re-framing the actions. Working with modes of narrative involves observations about the way we live and act, but also about the way we communicate our experiences.

These narrative experimentations suggest a playful take on how we introduce diverse points of view and explore new ways of expression in a fusion of horizons that is never considered as a closed and totally complete model. Inner and outwards landscapes, real and imaginary elements, tangible and intangible qualities were re-situated in the examined performative fields through the agency of the participants’ bodies and the dynamics of a plot that aimed to remain open. Allowing for new episodes to be incorporated and interruptions to happen in its course this process unearthed the existence of an evolving and organic urban narrative that is always open to incorporate new episodes.


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Author Biographies

Christos Kakalis, School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape of Newcastle University

Christos Kakalis (Newcastle upon Tyne) is an architect (University of Thessaly, Volos, Greece). He obtained the interdisciplinary MSc ‘Design, Space, Culture’ at the National Technical University of Athens. He holds a PhD in architecture from the Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (ESALA) and is a lecturer in architecture at the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape of Newcastle University. His work focuses on the conditions of embodied experience of the architecture and natural landscape with special emphasis on the role atmosphere. He has edited (with Dr Emily Goetsch) the collection Mountains, Mobilities and Movement(Palgrave Macmillan, 2017). He is currently working on the book Grammars of Architectural Silences and the edited volume (with Prof. Mark Dorrian) The Place of Silence: Architecture / Media / Philosophy.


Stella Mygdali, University of Edinburgh

Stella Mygdali (Edinburgh) is a registered architect (University of Patras, Greece). She holds an MSc (Distinction) in research in architecture from the University of Edinburgh. Currently, she is a PhD candidate in architecture at the University of Edinburgh. Her academic work focuses on the performative interrelation of art and architecture with a particular interest in environments of intimacy and risk. She has presented her work in conferences and group exhibitions in Europe.


How to Cite
KAKALIS, Christos; MYGDALI, Stella. Performing Openness Episodes of Walking Urban Narratives. Writingplace, [S.l.], n. 1, p. 75-89, apr. 2018. ISSN 2589-7691. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 16 june 2019. doi: