Mimetic Spaces: Botanical Gardens in a Shifting Conservation Regime

This talk invites the audience into the world of botanical gardens, which, like many modern institutions at the beginning of the 21st Century, is under pressure to change in response to refiguring processes such as climate change, the imperative of decolonization, and rapid advances in digital technology. In botanical gardens, this shift can be characterized as a repositioning from Humboldtian collectors of nature to protectors of biodiversity. Through the sociospatial investigation of Berlin’s Botanical Garden and the Royal Botanical Garden in Edinburgh, the talk brings to light tensions between spatial logics geared towards permanence and pressures to change. The spatiality emerging from these tensions has mimetic characteristics that offer a new understanding of staged spaces of nature in the Anthropocene.

Diffracting Natures Spatial Refigurations in the Metaverse

Digital Art Installation
Séverine Marguin and Jamie-Scott Baxter in cooperation with the artist-architect Lus Constantin

Grounded in the research project ‘Botanical Gardens in a Shifting Conservation Regime’, the art installation Diffracting Natures stages spatial stories of nature collected in the gardens of Berlin and Edinburgh and re-assembles them in the contemporary digital environment of the ‘Metaverse’. By de/re-constructing spatial drawings made during the research — a process understood here as a type of diffraction — alternative interpretative associations are composed between stories, and this allows for new speculations on spatial figures in the Anthropocene. In this way, one of the aims of the experiment is to reflect on the potential of this digital technology, beyond the mere diffusion of scientific knowledge, as an immersive, multimodal mapping tool for visual-spatial research and analysis.


Jamie-Scott Baxter (Dr-Ing) is an architect-planner and sociospatial researcher. He coordinates the ‘Planetary Tactics for Cohabitation’ living lab within the BUA project ‘Re-Scaling Global Health: Human Health and Multispecies Cohabitation on an Urban Planet’ at Technical University Berlin. In this constellation, he jointly coordinates the sub-project ‘Biophilic Urbanisms: Planning with Pathogens’. Jamie works at the intersection of design and science, engaging multispecies and hybrid mapping as well as topologies and multisited ethnographies. Interests include urban natures, critical conservation, new materialisms, circulations of knowledge, periphery-centre relations, and critical spatial theory. Jamie is joint executive editor at Architecture and Culture.

Dr. Séverine Marguin, a cultural sociologist, is head of the methods lab at the Collaborative Research Centre ‘Re-Figuration of Spaces’ (CRC 1265) at Technical University Berlin, where she also leads the subproject ‘Afronovelas: Spatial Stories and Production Regimes in West-African Soaps’ (C06). She is doing her habilitation on the relationships between sociology and design. Her research focus is on cultural and knowledge production, sociology of space, and experimental and design-based methods. She is joint executive editor at Architecture and Culture.

Lus Constantin is an independent multidisciplinary artist who combines his knowledge of architecture, art, and digital archives to create immersive media experiences. Previously, he worked with architectural practices in London and Berlin, where his collaborative work has been published in national media. Since 2010, he manages the reappraisal and digitization of the artist estate of the German sculptor Dieter Finke. Currently, his interests include scripting architecture to transform the digital landscape and questioning how we interact with mixed reality environments. His artistic research investigates challenges of bringing large data sets onto the blockchain and making them accessible in Metaverse experiences. In March 2023 his virtual architecture work was showcased in Monaverse.

In English

Jamie-Scott Baxter
Séverine Marguin

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 Mimetic Spaces