Welcome to rr dialogues!

rr dialogues is an experimental, multidisciplinary and non-linear research platform dedicated to experimental architecture and architectural research, founded by rotative research, the collaborative practice of architects Alexandra Sonnemans (Rotterdam) and Caterina Viguera (Zürich).

We invite architects, artists and experts in related fields to join our dialogue, in order to expand and exchange knowledge and to open up new perspectives, combining theoretical, artistic and empirical research, in different cities simultaneously.

Navigate through the interactive index to find the ongoing dialogues!


Rotate and mouse over the contributions around the table to find the dialogues. Click on the dialogue title inside the circle to view. If you want to read more about the development of the topic, click on 'read more' inside the circle.

Materialisation of intentions

The process of transformation


On dreams and material actualisation, fiction and reality, intention and result

In this study we research the relationship between architectural intentions and their materialisation on site, taking time and context as the main parameters.

This topic is introduced from the perspective of Alexandra and Caterina, preceded by their dialogue since 2016, looking at their cities simultaneously asking the same specific questions.

What is the threshold between past, present and future, as the moment of materialisation of an idea on site? What stages can we distinguish in this materialisation process?How do new developments adapt to the local specificity of the (physical and non-physical) context?


Within the city in transformation we find a wide range of large-scale publication methods that inform us about the new developments that re-shape our cities. These temporary infrastructures offer a broad spectrum of readings and they become experiencable suggestions for us to imagine the potential impact of these intended developments on site (on the context).

Focusing on the moment an intention is still at the stage of an idea (fiction) (by analysing and documenting the representations on site for public envisage, in the form of drawings /images / texts on billboards or scale 1: 1 prototypes and fragments), we are interested in how much we actually need to imagine something.

What can we read from these representations, what the intentions of a project are and what the impact will be on its immediate context *, when it is being built?

Do we see a relationship between the design methods (digital) and the current building practices/built environment?

And from analysis to action (or ‚strategy‘): What if we would use these 1: 1 representation methods as ‚tools‘ for design?


Alongside that, we rotate to the stage where an intention is materialised into an essential, complete building.

How did the ideas become apparent, do we see a relationship to what was planned and how have (factors of) time and context been of influence?

Do current situations change how we see and use a building (area, or city), do they need to be adapted and how do these revisions affect the original intentions?

Intention: the mental state that represents commitment or carrying out an action in the future. Intention involves mental and physical activities such as planning and forethought.

Architectural intentions refers to the first abstract idea that expresses the necessity for a transformation in order to give form to a potential final sense of space. These values and meanings are often hidden or lost during the following stages of materialization; by examining the intentions, these values could be revealed.

Materialisation of intentions

This dialogue discusses the use of a type of imagery and language that correlates material wealth and urbanization.

Ever more technically advanced 3D renders make the architectural images representing the envisioned end-result increasingly realistic. Paradoxically, however, the resulting visuals also become more and more alike (and thus also less ‘real’), exposing a constantly returning same-like smoothed colour scheme, ever returning stereotyped figures draw to inhabit the space, gleaming surfaces of buildings and streets, and standardized accompanying texts.

What does this mean for our built environment? How do these 'corporate' aesthetics relate to local specific contexts and what is their impact on architecture and the appearance and identity of our cities?

The use of this semi-utilitarian infrastructure doesn't question the ongoing transformation behind. It rather acts as an scenographic ornament within the city with a strong iconic meaning. There is an obsession with detail and over-abundant decoration. It substitutes and hides, for a period of time, the original object that it copies in scale 1:1.  

This dialogue focuses on on-site publication methods that are used to test an architectural solution and its potential impact on-site. These are simulated realities that offer a wide spectrum of readings and become, most of the times, the only information or suggestion for us (inhabitants) to imagine the future dimensions of our cities. How much do we need, to imagine something? These so-called simulations are temporary infrastructures that become an important part of our urban environment. They are placed on site in the pre-final stage of design, the moment of construction, where the intentions represented get in contact with the real context for the first time. This leads to our main question: Could we also use such simulation methods as a tool for designing our future city?

This is a group of tools or 'zero degree' of architecture, limited to facts and figures. These tools can be understood as a language that lacks of meaning outside itself. It reveals how use - form and social values relate. They can range from simple quantitative tools, storing information methods through material signs to projective tools that manipulate reality. What is the relationship between the (digital) design methods and the current building practice? How do architectural design practice and education relate to the materiality of real practice?

What kind of spaces do our society create? The mechanics of a new perception of a better society communicated through design. Politics of space, and trying to understand how everyday conditions enforce and reinforce power relations.

How are intentions influenced by/through time and context? How do the original intentions change*, when they come in contact with the real context, and how does a plan change over time? Changes in society (values, meaning, growth, etc.) might ask for a revision on what was initially intended. Changes in a specific context had their influence on how something that was intended in one way, ended up completely different, or never became what the initiators/creators had in mind.  Current situations change how we see a building, area, or city, do things have to be adapted and how do these transformations affect the original intentions?  

'An object tossed from one place to another'. If we look at one building we unconsciously believe that its materiality belongs to the place where it has been built. But what we might not have imagined, is that each different part has been released in different parts of the world. A dissection of the construction and production process. Where does the material come from? How much material is needed?

Within construction procedures, we fnd poetry within the unplanned and the unintded; compositions of colour, rythm and light within the organisation of materials, awaiting their assemblage.