Experiments in Strip Appeal

Merle Patchett, Rob Shields, Stephanie Davidson, George Rafailidis

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference Contribution (Conference Proceeding)

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Strip Appeal (www.strip-appeal.com) was an ideas design competition intended to stimulate and showcase creative design proposals for the adaptive reuse of small-scale strip-malls. It was also a mode of experimentation both for the organizers, Patchett and Shields, and entrants and eventual winners, Davidson and Rafailidis. For the organizers, Strip Appeal offered the opportunity of experimenting with the competition as social research – a method for the generation rather than the mere collection/representation of knowledge, experience and materials relating to a much-maligned building type. For the entrants/winners it offered the opportunity of experimenting within the competition as practice - using a competition “brief” or question as a jumping-off point to explore, develop and test an architectural idea – in this case, the idea of architectural spolia – in a specific design proposal.

Following Bruno Latour (1999) the experiment can be understood as a transformative process – for the people as well as the materials involved. By staging a dialogue between organizers and entrants/winners in this paper we seek to question whether Strip Appeal was transformative in the ways - procedural, social, representational, political - intended? Moreover in offering the perspectives of both organizers and entrants we aim to the make visible some of the opacities involved in practice – such as flows of organization/funding, mystifications of expertise and decision-making, barriers to engagement/implementation, and so forth – and thus stay alert to the dilemmas and limitations of experimentation both with and within the ideas design competition.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationICC 2016: The Competition Mesh
Subtitle of host publicationExperimenting with and within Architecture Competitions
Place of PublicationLeeds Beckett
Number of pages37
Publication statusPublished - 27 Oct 2016


  • Strip Mall
  • Matter of Concern
  • Design
  • Bruno Latour
  • Experiment
  • Competition


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