Calculated Uncertainties

Calculated Uncertainties
Philippe Buchs, Matthew Phillips, Nelly Pilz, Dafni Retzepi
Speculative design lab which through experiments aims toward new forms of contemporary spatial conditions

Calculated Uncertainties
Zurich/Switzerland, Geneva/Switzerland, Athens/Greece, Berlin/Germany
Team members
Retzepi Dafni
Phillips Matthew
Pilz Nelly
Buchs Philippe
Field of work
Architecture, Ecology, Visual Art, Curating, Research
Project category
Public space
Project submitted

CALCULATED UNCERTAINTIES is a collaboration between Philippe Buchs, Matthew Phillips, Nelly Pilz and Dafni Retzepi.

Philippe Buchs is a Swiss-Argentinian architect based in Geneva. Since 2019 he has been teaching, first at EPF Lausanne at the Chair of Kersten Geers and then at ETH Zürich at the Chair of Alexandre Theriot. In 2020 he co-founded the architectural office Sujets Objets / and is involved in the experimental practice Arimna where the boundary between art, design, curation and architecture gets blurred. +

Matthew Phillips is a British-born architect/artist based in Zurich. Since 2019 he is a Teaching and Research Assistant at the chair of Prof. Dr. Elli Mosayebi at ETH Zurich. With 00Island [Ralf Pflugfelder and Matthew Phillips] he works on interdisciplinary conceptual art projects in Zurich, London and Vienna. Notable recent work includes an installation for Swiss Art Awards 2023, Biennale Svizzera del Territorio 2022.

Nelly Pilz is a German-born architect based in Zurich. Since 2018 she is a Teaching and Research Assistant at the chair of Prof. Dr. Elli Mosayebi at ETH Zurich and taught first-year design at HSLU Lucerne. With her office studiopilz, she works on projects, competitions and strategies between architecture and art. She received scholarships from artEDU Foundation and the Max Planck Institute.

Dafni Retzepi is a Greek-born architect and PHD candidate at the University of Bologna, Italy. She is one of the founding members of the architectural office Sujets Objets / based in Geneva. In 2019 she co-founded the experimental practice Arimna. Interested in the latitudes of practice and the highways of theoretical formulations, her projects and research examine contemporary architectural discourses under the light of relations to the recent cultural, economic and political past. +

CALCULATED UNCERTAINTIES operates as a speculative design lab investigating complex techno-ecological futures through the production of experimental artworks, structures, atmospheres and environments.

Expanding on previously developed works which range from artificially scenting environments, hijacking building systems to inserting soundscapes in landscapes, we hope to realize another project in a highly public situation as a way of building a forum of discussion.

CALCULATED UNCERTAINTIES aims toward new forms of approaching contemporary spatial conditions. Applying the principle of the experiment, CALCULATED UNCERTAINTIES explores the interdependencies between natural and technological systems and phenomena. Adopting a speculative approach that understands disorder as an intrinsic component of any built environment, CALCULATED UNCERTAINTIES acknowledges the role of the unexpected as an integral part of any design process.

In a time of hybridisation, technological advance and interconnectedness,
CALCULATED UNCERTAINTIES reframes the idea of scientific knowledge as absolute by using experiments to arrive at questions rather than as the result of making one. The magic behind the experiment lies in its ability to affirm an existing hypothesis and its power to become something different– the capacity of a question to acquire agency. Above all its purpose is that of new beginnings by functioning as a think-tank for questions as outputs.

Gaining ‘just enough’ knowledge and embracing situated knowledge allows us to misread, misinterpret and experiment. This punk ethos to circumvent established protocols and processes achieves alternative outcomes and challenges the status quo (disrupt/provoke change/expose). What does it mean to lose control? Can this be used as a design strategy? What might a resultant artwork, structure, or environment look like by adopting this methodology?