Superimposed interviews ©ALICE EPFL
Collective data-based drawings

A common ground for adaptive contributive design





ALICE, urban design, data-based drawing, affective cartography, ecological transition


The laboratory ALICE (Atelier de la Conception de l’Espace) at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) advances a comprehensive approach to data-based drawing oriented towards architectural and urban co-design processes. This drawing methodology has been key in the contributive design process they have applied over the last seven years, covering a range of scales and contexts, both within the public and private spheres. 

Contribution has become a relational strategy that unites a diverse range of participants, each hailing from various backgrounds and carrying unique needs, which come together around the drawing. For this reason, the cultivation of a robust drawing culture, from their teaching to their research and design activities, has become a cornerstone of ALICE’s philosophy, where drawing is embraced not merely as a representational tool but as a constructive means for design work. Their methodology has now evolved to include data-based drawing techniques, skillfully merging precise surveying with qualitative data analysis, thereby bridging the gap between quantitative and qualitative facets of design.

This article explains this data-based approach to drawing through a series of projects developed in the Greater Geneva region. Throughout them, they explain how ALICE’s situated data-based drawings facilitate intricate coordination among students, leading to real-scale interventions; explore the potential of transforming main roads into landscape infrastructures that promote sustainable mobility and urban development; or offer an innovative lens to comprehend the affective connections between citizens and their urban surroundings, transcending traditional cartographic representations. Finally, these efforts are summarised through the analysis of a single drawing showcased at the 2021 Venice Biennale, illustrating the potential of this methodology to harmonize the collective efforts of various stakeholders.

How to Cite

Valdez, R., Jalon Oyarzun, L., Dietz, D., Onifade, M., & Pulfer, A. (2023). Collective data-based drawings: A common ground for adaptive contributive design. SPOOL, 10(1), 87–104.




Author Biographies

Ruben Valdez, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne

Formed in architecture at the Academy of Architecture of Mendrisio (MSc 2011) and in visual arts at the Ecole Cantonale d’art de Lausanne (MAV 2015), Rubén Valdez has worked between Switzerland and Mexico in the fields of architecture and contemporary art. Since 2015 he is a member of the editorial board of CARTHA magazine.

Lucia Jalon Oyarzun, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne

Lucía Jalón Oyarzun is an architect and researcher. She graduated from the ETSAM School of Architecture of Madrid where she also obtained a Master in Advanced Architectural Projects and defended her PhD “Exception and the rebel body: the political as generator of a minor architecture” in 2017. Since 2010 she was a researcher at the Cultural Landscape Research Group at Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, and since 2019 she is a post-doc and Head of Research at ALICE (Atelier de la Conception de l’Espace)/EPFL. There she continues her interdisciplinary research on the conflict between the spatial forms used by politics and the exception, and the commons created by the rebel body, through a historical, political and philosophical reading of secrecy and clandestinity as spatial compositions under capitalism, the anaesthetic effects of the new attentional regimes on the body’s spatial capabilities. She has taught for several years at the ETSAM School of Architecture of Madrid, and has been invited to several international universities. From 2017 to 2020 she was Director of Academic Affairs at Escuela SUR, a postgraduate interdisciplinary art program in Círculo de Bellas Artes, Madrid. In 2018 she curated the exhibition “4R Resistencia, Rebeldía, Revuelta, Revolución”, a genealogy of revolt through art and culture. Her work, ranging from scientific production to cultural critique, has been published in several journals and publications.

Dieter Dietz, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne

Educated at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich (Arch. Degree 1991), Dieter Dietz also studied at the Cooper Union in New York with Diller/Scofidio. Since 2006, he is Associate Professor for Architectural Design at EPFL, director of the ALICE laboratory in the ENAC faculty. He collaborates with the ALICE team on research projects at diverse scales with labs inside and outside EPFL.

Malcolm Onifade, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne

Malcolm Onifadé studied architecture in Versailles (ENSA-V) and Technische Universität München (TUM).

He was director of the association ADN+ (architecture design and novation linked with ENSAV). There he helped to develop workshop, public furniture, art installation, small pavillon and was part of the working team for the creation of ENSA-V Fablab. He practice in some workshop, L’Orfevrerie (Paris), Munich maker lab, and worked in hemp construction (UK).
His interest crosses architecture, manufacturing, construction and is oriented by material processes.
He is working at ALICE with the Design Research team. 


Aurele Pulfer

Aurèle Pulfer studied architecture at EPFL (Lausanne, Switzerland) and at NTNU (Trondheim, Norway) and worked as an architect in Zürich. He holds a specialization from HEIG-VD (Yverdon, Switzerland) on active mobilities and the public realm.

Collaborating with ALICE since 2016, he returns as a scientific assistant and design architect in 2019 and joins the Design Research team, with a key role in the coordination of the “Grand Genève” prospective project. He has since then contributed to further developments of the project while developing drawing and mapping techniques for transcalar cartography.


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