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Emily Costain

MA work

Autopoetics and the production of space

By focusing on two regions of digital-political culture: social media and biomedicine, this project raises questions about the production of architecture and the production of personal-identity in contemporary society – a new autopoetics of space is envisioned.

Since the rise of the modern, disciplinary practice (in the historical period of the Renaissance), architecture has been concerned with the spatial relationship of the human body and its sense of selfhood, to the constructed bodies of buildings, but the possibilities for thinking about that relationship have always been limited.

The possibilities for thinking space in architecture have tended to presuppose the human being can either perceive itself to be inside, or outside, the constructed body of architecture. Architecture has imagined an embodied human being passing from the outside to the inside of an architectural construct, or vice versa, but finds it difficult to imagine the opposite relationship.

As the spatial milieu of contemporary life becomes increasingly modified by digital technologies and their cultural and political resonances, the question of the body’s relationship to space is challenged and modified and has the potential to expand. Increasingly, human bodies and spaces are caught up in a web of digital-political-cultural forces; where fast-paced, online, scrupulous identity rumination and living system technologies reflect a contemporary ongoing tension to take ownership of ‘the production of the self.’

This proposal imagines a mega-corporation, calling itself ‘Autopoetics,’ trading in and by means of, intensive bio-technologies, social media, productive bodies in space and speculative inhabited environments, all conceived as generators of a continuous flux and as technological drivers of the twenty-first century. Using an assortment of generative tools, autopoesis transforms the body into an architecture of itself, thereby becoming a physical manifestation of these combined forces, whose narrative qualities are choreographed using photography and film.


  • MA Degree


    School of Architecture


    MA Architecture, 2015



  • Degrees

  • BA Architecture, University of Nottingham, 2011
  • Experience

  • HOK, London, 2011–13