The role of corporeity in the era of virtualization

MILAN, 19-22 JUNE 2024

Publisher: PUBLICA

In an era in which many aspects of our society, lives, and disciplines are shifting ─ sometimes too lightly, others forcibly ─ from the physical to the immaterial, from the corporeal to the virtual, EURAU Milan 2024 Conference reflects on the current and future role of corporeality, examining what has changed and is changing, what is effectively irreducible from the material to the virtual intangible dimension and what, in terms of values and experiences, is gained or lost in this shift.  


EURAU Milan 2024 solicits researchers and professionals in the spheres of spatial studies, from architecture to urban and environmental design, planning and policies, artistic disciplines and experimentations, etcetera, to reflect on the conditions/practices/tools that require the presence of a body or several bodies in a space, whether small or large, indoor or outdoor, in order to be lived, experienced and realised authentically, and if so, how this is different and why this is crucial compared to technologically mediated, non-corporal, non-material, even non-human, experiences. 

Considering diverse points of view and arguments, the perspective of corporeality appears intimately linked to architecture and urbanism in multiple ways and through the many approaches over time. 

This vital link can be seen, for instance, if we consider the many perspectives from which space can be conceived: from the uses and the interpretations of space through ‘practices’, through a culturally-mediated perception of space, to the role of space itself as a source of sensory and environmental stimuli, to the production of space through design, or even to the social usability of space as a container of practices and events. 

Following this perspective, the spaces of architecture, the city and the environment can be inhabited thanks to, by and through the body and its physical extension. The body is the transit of the relationship between design and space, practices and society. Placing bodies at the core of our disciplinary discourses means interfering with their material, organic and affective narrative embracing their uncertainties and stumbles and dealing with the consequences. Bodies are traces of a creative multiplicity, interlaced with the possibility of an open and continuous dialogue with the world. 

This multifaceted relationship occurs in two principal ways: one as ‘acting bodies’, bodies that touch, bodies that act, bodies as actors of practices and actions, and as a tool for transformative reflection on space; and one as ‘acted bodies’, bodies as filters, bodies affected by the physical-spatial and environmental conditions of space. This dialectic between the body as an active medium and the body as passive exposure derives from Gilles Deleuze’s reading of Spinoza and carries with it the idea that ‘the body is the world, is made of the world, is at one with the world.’ 

Starting from the intention of investigating the space-body relationship, its modifications and resistances, the basic questions EURAU Milan 24 intends to ask are: 

/ Is this condition still actual? How much has it changed, and will it change in the coming years?
/ What cannot change as it is effectively irreducible from the material to the virtual?
/ How has the body-space relationship changed with the advent of new technologies?
/ What still can a body do, and what can only be done by a body?
/ What is the added value of a body-centred approach to our disciplines? 

The issue can be approached by questioning boldly a series of recent or well-known assumptions, which refer to different disciplinary fields but share a core theme: the co-presence and relationship of bodies in space. 

Furthermore, in the current global conditions − full of innovation but with multiple crises that must be overcome through collaboration and research aiming towards a different future − researchers and professionals are driven to question even the fundamental traits of our disciplines profoundly. What the recent crisis, starting from Covid-19, has reiterated is indeed the centrality of the individual bodies and of bodies interacting in space. 

Among the many emerging issues recently developed at the international level – for instance, the European Agenda or the international SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals), which points to sustainability, justice, equality, freedom, hospitality, health, a new and fairer economy, care for the most fragile people and territories, memory, beauty and socio-spatial transition – EURAU Milan 24 aims to underline and integrate the aspect of ‘togetherness’ that can be defined as being together, sharing practices and values through bodies and multiple, even non-physical bonds that occur within space.