The Laboratory for Inhabitable Theories and Research in Architecture | LITRA was founded by artist/architect Claudia Westermann in 2001. It has since then offered a platform for projects at the threshold of art and architecture some of which have involved interdisciplinary collaborations with other artists, designers, and writers.
Inhabitable Theories is a research and design project that generally actualises in the form of performative lectures. The project questions both the existence and the relevance of a separation between theory and practice as it transforms into a discourse on spatial design that is both theory and practice. Theory becomes thought, text, and voice, at last, reflecting space – a kind of meta-architecture that is radically open as it allows for a form of appropriation that is at the limit of recreation.
The “Inhabitable Theories” project clarifies spatial practice as encompassing both writing and designing and performing at its own limits. Spatial practice is, therefore, to be conceived as a practice that is critical of its own rules. It is understood as a performative process that creates borders rather than borderlines, limits rather than limitations, and is, therefore, a discipline of radical communication that always seeks to extend itself towards an Other – the unknown – addressing it without previously quantifying it to render it provable.
Claudia Westermann is licensed with the German Chamber of Architects, and Senior Associate Professor in Architecture at Xi'an Jiaotong-Liverpool University (XJTLU) in Suzhou, China. She holds postgraduate degrees in Architecture and Media Art from the University of Karlsruhe (KIT) and the Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design (HfG) at the Center for Art and Media (ZKM) in Germany respectively, obtaining a Ph.D. from the Centre for Advanced Inquiry in Integrative Arts (CAiiA), Planetary Collegium, University of Plymouth, UK, for her research on a poetics of architecture entitled "An Experimental Research into Inhabitable Theories."
Exhibitions and Publications
Claudia Westermann's works have been widely exhibited and presented, including at the Venice Biennale (Architecture), the Moscow International Film Festival, ISEA Symposium for the Electronic Arts, the Center for Art and Media (ZKM) in Karlsruhe, Germany, and most recently at the 2019 Yanping Art Harvest in Fujian, China. Recent publications include `A Poetics of Designing' in the book Design Cybernetics, published by Springer in 2019, and the conference paper `An Eco-Poetic Approach to Architecture across Boundaries'. The text `The Art of Conversation: design cybernetics and its ethics' is forthcoming in the journal Kybernetes in 2020.
Claudia Westermann held, besides other roles, the position of the Programme Director of the newly founded RIBA Part 1 Bachelor in Architecture at XJTLU and the Chair of the Departmental Learning and Teaching Committee from 2015 to 2018. She received several teaching awards, including five provincial/national awards related to studio teaching and a county-level award for the Philosophy of Art module for architecture undergraduates that she has been teaching since 2014.
Her research interests are the ecologies/poetics of art and architectural design, hybrid and resonant spaces, architectural design and its social impact, transdisciplinary research in art/architecture, science, and technology, site-specific (media) art, 2nd order cybernetics / radical constructivism, Asian/Chinese and Western philosophy of art and aesthetics.