The Relationships Between Event, Space and User.

Source  - Advertisement for Architecture - Bernard Tschumi 1975.

Source - Advertisement for Architecture - Bernard Tschumi 1975.

“There is no space without event…no architecture without program.”

(Tschumi, 1994)

As discussed in, The Spatial Pattern of Society, it is known that the movement of people and their resulting actions and events have an impact on their environments. Architecture and urbanism are subjectively built upon the need or desire to occupy space, generate forms and accommodate functions. However, how can architecture and urban design respond to the spatial events and movement of people and their ‘program’ of activity? Whilst this is one way to think about the development of architecture, it could also be considered that architecture and our built environment can be designed to generate a program of its own, allowing users to form their own activities and react accordingly. Thus, asking the question;

Can architecture become a spatial dialogue for the encouragement of movement and activity through space that is reactive and complimentary to the spatial programme of society?

The work of Bernard Tschumi argues that ‘architecture – its social relevance and formal invention – cannot be dissociated from the events that “happen” in it’ (Tschumi, 2001, pg.139). Explaining the rationale that space is created by an event happening within it and the architecture is defined by the resulting activity and movement. It is clear throughout his work that Tschumi is interested in the concept of experience and the reactions that architecture can have upon it users. He believes that architecture must originate from ideas and concepts before becoming forms and cannot be dissociated from the events and movements of the living beings that inhabit it (Mun-Delsalle, 2015).

Source  - MT1 - “The Park” - Bernard Tschumi - The Manhattan Transcripts.

Source - MT1 - “The Park” - Bernard Tschumi - The Manhattan Transcripts.

Following these principles, an interesting case study into the notation and research of the relationship between event and space is Tschumi’s Manhattan Transcripts. The transcripts act, firstly as a device to reflect the realities of space which are conventionally removed from architectural representations (Tschumi, 1994). They are used to make sense of these architecture realities that incorporates sequence, movement and function (Crossley, n.d) as individual entities – exploring the complex relationships between; ‘spaces and their use; the set and the script; ‘type’ and ‘program’ object and events.’ (Tschumi, 1994)


The first transcript in the collection -  (MT 1) – “The Park” – suggests a confronting notion and extreme scenario that to truly understand architecture and its relationship to event; “you may need to commit a murder” (Tschumi, 1994); implying that human physicality and actions act as devices to interpret space. He develops a specific mode of notation to demonstrate this;


“Photographs direct the action, plans reveal the alternatively cruel and loving architectural manifestations, diagrams indicate the movements of the main protagonists.”

(Tschumi, 1994)


From this we can see the individual aspects of attitude, movement, intent and action of the individual(s) are intimately linked within an environment and their resulting spatial sequence, together, define the architectural space and form of ‘The Park’ (Tschumi 1994).


The work of Tschumi is interesting to understand the relationship between events and their surrounding environments, adding that ‘architecture is defined by the actions it witnesses as much as by the enclosure of its walls’ (Tschumi, 1983). If this is the case, how can architectural and urban designers develop an environment that can only be defined once activity takes place within it. Does this suggest that we are designing for the unknown? – Maybe. Tschumi often aligns use with function but in terms such as action, event and uselessness, he recognises the unpredictable aspect to use that focuses on the user’s lived experience rather than the architects abstractions, interpretations and assumptions (Hill, 2003).


Using the analogy of how an author constructs their stories, often using grammar and vocabulary to suggest an array of individual ideas within the writing, is an approach not dissimilar to the process of design for the unknown reaction, and encouragement of individual interpretation of our built environment. Tschumi explains that architects and designers use similar techniques to those of a writer, in the form of devices such as ‘repetition, distortion or juxtaposition in the formal elaboration of walls,’ proposing that if these techniques can be applied to the physical structure of space; ‘couldn’t they (designers) do the same thing in terms of the activities that occur within those very walls?’ (Tscuhmi, 2001)

Ultimately suggesting that architects and designers prioritise the design of event, activities and actions, over the form and materiality of our buildings – of which are naturally developed through the movement and sequences of people in space.

Read Part 1 —> The Social Patterns of Society.



Crossley, B. (n.d.). REVIEW: Bernard Tschumi; The Manhattan Transcripts. [online] The [Advanced] Landscape. Available at: [Accessed 20 Apr. 2019].

Hill, J. (2003) Actions of Architecture – Architects and Creative Users. New York: Routeledge

Mun-Delsalle, Y. (2015). Bernard Tschumi's Architecture Is Not Just About Space And Form But Also The Events Happening Inside. [online] Available at: [Accessed 20 Apr. 2019].

Savic, S. (2012). Event and Movement in Architecture « Emperor's New Architecture. [online] Available at: [Accessed 20 Apr. 2019].

Tschumi, B. (1983). Illustrated Index – Themes from the Manhattan Transcripts. AA Files, no.4.

Tschumi, B. (1990). Questions of Space: Lectures on Architecture. London: Architectural Association.

Tschumi, B. (1994). Event-Cities (Praxis). Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

Tschumi, B. (1994). The Manhattan Transcripts. London: Academy Editions.

Tschumi, B. (1997). Architecture in/of Motion. Rotterdam: NAI.

Tschumi, B. (2001). Architecture and Disjunction. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.


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