I give you an emptiness,
I give you a plenitude,
Unwrap them carefully.

-one's as fragile as the other-

Wherever you go
they'll go with you and
wherever you are you'll wonder,

smiling about the fullness
you can't add to

and the emptiness
that you can fill.


 Norman MacCaig, 1974


By considering both the plenitude and emptiness of architectural production we are looking to elaborate design as a mode of enquiry through a set of key frames: situation, narrative, politics and subjectivity.

Design is plentiful in its modes and procedures, its practices and techniques; through an abundance of means of making, drawing, writing, imagining, imaging, positioning, and critiquing, design produces a plenty. At the same time, its methodologies encounter gaps or unknowns. Through design these gaps are negotiated, partially filled and even enlarged. Design produces both something and nothing.

In the midst of architectural design research we encounter both plenitude and emptiness. The symposium aims to discuss relations frequently encountered in design-led research, for example between method and content, theory and knowledge, and design and research. These relations taken through the four key themes propose a series of more specific enquiries, for example: How does design-led research specifically and critically develop a situation? How does design-led research engage with rhetoric and narrative? How does design-led research participate in (emergent) politics? How does design-led research and the object of architecture critically develop the discourse on subjectivity?

Drawing from the words of the Edinburgh poet, MacCaig, we wonder whether design extends research to where the lines of enquiry and poesis (poetry) merge. ‘Plenitude and Emptiness’, is an opportunity both to ‘give presents’ and to ‘unwrap them carefully’.

Rather than privileging any design method, the aim of this two-day symposium is to bring together different approaches and create a place for the fertile exchange and critical review of design-led research. We encourage you to see your participation as an opportunity to meet, present and discuss your work with academics and research students, in such a way that befits your research subject and interests. To this end, the symposium will be an intimate gathering, with selected keynote speakers, commentators, and a group of presenters. To further expand on this gathering selected presentations will be revised and edited to become part of the inaugural volume of an open-access online architectural design journal, 'Drawing On'.