An Atlas of Spatial Figures is the title of a forthcoming book edited by urban anthropologist Ignacio Farías (HU Berlin), sociologist Silke Steets (FAU Erlangen-Nürnberg), and visual artist Nikolaus Gansterer (Vienna) for the CRC 1265. It addresses methodological questions of how current interdisciplinary research can be designed to ‘figure out spaces’ and analyze the contemporary refiguration of spaces. ‘Figuring out spaces’ is an intellectual and artistic practice of exploring, describing, and visualizing spatial figures that shape how we live, work, and dream. It entails moving between (more concrete) topographic and (more abstract) topological figures of space. It combines conceptual work and methodological reflection with storytelling, visualization, and choreographic translations. The book presentation includes a collection of around 45 spatial stories, each drawing on a topographic figure of space as well as sixteen table configurations encompassing drawings, materials, objects and gestures. In this way, four important processes of the refiguration of spaces are illuminated as they are experienced, imagined, and discussed by people, revolving around problems of extimacy, uninhabitability, ferality, and splintering.

Ignacio Farías is Professor of Urban Anthropology of the department of European Ethnology, co-director of the Stadtlabor for Multimodal Anthropology and PI of the ERC project WAVEMATTERS. His research interests concern current ecological and infrastructural transformations of cities and the associated epistemo-political challenges to the democratization of city-making. His most recent work explores the politics of environmental disruptions, from tsunamis over heat to noise. He is also interested in urban ethnography as a mode of city making performed with designers, initiatives, concerned groups, policy makers and by moving from textual to material productions.

Silke Steets is Professor of Sociology at Friedrich-Alexander Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg. Her research interests include urban sociology, sociology of space and architecture, sociology of religion, qualitative research methods, and sociological theory. She was a research fellow at Boston University in 2012 and held a DFG-Heisenberg fellowship from 2017 to 2019, which took her to the University of Leipzig and the University of Texas at Dallas. In addition to numerous publications, she is the author of the monograph Der sinnhafte Aufbau der gebauten Welt (2015), in which she develops a theory of architecture based on the sociology of knowledge. More information at:

Nikolaus Gansterer is an artist and researcher interested in the links between drawing, thinking, and action. Since 2007 he is teaching at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna where he is board member of the Applied Performance Laboratory. He is author of the book Drawing a Hypothesis (2013) on the ontology of diagrammatic configurations. From 2014-2018, he was involved in developing new systems of notation between drawing, writing, and choreography within the interdisciplinary research project Choreo-graphic Figures. Since 2019-2024, he is the leading researcher of the artistic project Contingent Agencies for experimental diagramming of atmospheres and environments.

In English

Ignacio Farías
Nikolaus Gansterer
Silke Steets

Organized by

Ignacio Farías and Silke Steets for the Collaborative Research Center ‘Re-Figuration of Spaces’ (CRC 1265) in collaboration with the ICI Berlin

KV An Atlas of Figures We Live By