Nathalie Kerschen, Awarded 2023 Residency at the Academia Belgica in Rome
Following a call for applications for the research and creation residency for architects, architecture researchers, illustrators, and authors at the Academia Belgica in Rome in 2023, 6 proposals were assessed. At a meeting on 24 January, the jury welcomed the range, focus and quality of the projects submitted. The jury members were Eline Bleser (Luxembourg Center for Architecture), Claude Kremer (National Centre for Literature) and Anne Simon (Resident 2022).
The jury unanimously decided to award the residency to Nathalie Kerschen for her research proposal URBS ANIMALIS.
The jury was particularly impressed by the theme Natalie Kerschen proposed, a natural extension of her PhD research. The precision and methodology underpinning her thinking, combined with the almost intuitive approach she plans to take in the field, were rated highly by the jury which commended her for the exemplary nature of her academic approach.
The topic proposed by Nathalie Kerschen dovetails perfectly with current debates – still in the early stages – questioning current thinking about cities from the perspective of inclusive coexistence living beings in urban spaces. It is therefore highly relevant to current research in the field of architecture and the way in which we inhabit nature.
Project (extract from application)
“Drawing inspiration from the hermeneutic-phenomenological approach to architecture and recent developments in eco-phenomenology—i.e. the philosophical attempt to an ‘experience of nature’ through ‘nature of experience’ (Toadvine)—and studies of animals and anthropology, my research creation projects—which lie at the intersection between architecture and speculative design—aim to renew the relationship with animals in Rome through the prism of what the phenomenologist David Abram calls ‘becoming animal’.
This proto-eco-phenomenological approach is based on the idea that human bodies are in harmony with non-human bodies on the basis of a combination of physical experiences and conditions. It can be linked to the concepts of ‘interanimality’, and ’empathy’ (Einfülung) developed by the philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty; a bodily experience shared by humans and animals. Since (eco)phenomenology focuses on the experience of animals, it offers a backdrop for examining the conditions and spatial contexts of non-human living beings from a familiar perspective, i.e. as co-inhabitants of our urban and rural spaces. At a time when exponential growth of urban populations, the extinction of species, and the loss of biodiversity seem irreversible, making animals visible in Rome means giving them a platform and bringing them back into focus for architects.”
About Nathalie Kerschen
After obtaining a master’s from the École Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture Paris-Malaquais and studying philosophy at Paris Sorbonne IV University, Nathalie Kerschen continued her academic studies at McGill University in Montreal. In November 2022, she defended her doctorate in the History and Theory Department at the Peter Guo-hua Fu School of Architecture on ‘Reclaiming Nature in Computational Architectural Design: From Biology to Phenomenology’. In addition to her academic studies, Nathalie has worked for international architect’s offices and been exhibited in contemporary art centres, including Casino – Forum d’art Contemporain in Luxembourg and iMal Art Center for Digital Cultures & Technology in Brussels. In 2022, she began to teach theory and practical courses in the Department of Design and Computation Arts at Concordia University in Montreal.
As a researcher, Nathalie has received several grants, including an AFR grant from the Luxembourg National Research Fund (2016-2020), a Schulich grant (2016), a Meita grant from McGill University (2016-2019), excellence grants for architecture graduates (2021) and an award on completing her doctorate (2022) from the Peter Guo-hua Fu School of Architecture.