The Bartlett School of Architecture


Six Troubling Things Before Breakfast: the ethics of re-imagining the possible

20 November 2017, 6:00 pm–8:00 pm

Six Troubling Things Before Breakfast:  the ethics of re-imagining the possible

A talk by Pia Ednie-Brown (RMIT), as part of the Bartlett Ethics Commission.

Event Information

Open to





The Bartlett


6.02, 22 Gordon Street, London WC1H 0QB

“There's no use trying,” she said: “one can't believe impossible things.” 

“I daresay you haven't had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” 

Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Ethics is not about right and wrong, but rather concerns a careful openness to the trouble that the collective, ecological nature of life brings with it.

Creative practice research often dives into the lived experience of that trouble – wherein the everyday becomes a source of spontaneous, ethically charged moments that feed into creative endeavours, and vice versa. As Francisco Varela has articulated, it is ethical know-how – operating prior to ethical deliberation – that we draw upon amidst the spontaneous unfolding of events. Understood in this way, ethics becomes integral to the doing of creative practice, and is inherently situated.

This presents challenges in institutional contexts, because a truly situated ethics is impossible to fully assess outside the eventfulness of any given project. The flip-side of this challenge, however, is that approaching ethics as integral to creative practice research can operate to cultivate ethical know-how in ways far more potent than the processes of institutional ethics approval.

This presentation will be structured through six vignettes about how and why the methods of creative practice research offer a potent crucible for the cultivation of ethical know-how. These six vignettes draw upon an ethics-focused research project and workshop, and lead to ‘breakfast’ with a creative character, Avery Green – a house that became a person. Jumping into the rabbit hole of apparent impossibility, Avery will offer us a site to inhabit the practice of re-calibrating the architecture of ethics.

The aim of this presentation and discussion will be to explore ways in which a creative re-imagining of the possible – in the midst of material, situated actualities – offers potent forms of ethics-in-action.

About the speaker

A/Prof Pia Ednie-Brown is a researcher, educator and creative practitioner. She is Chair of the Practice Research Symposium, and Acting Deputy Dean Research and Innovation in the School of Architecture and Design at RMIT University, in Melbourne.

She is currently working on three cross-institutional research projects concerning creative practice research, ethics and higher degrees pedagogy.  Her work engages transdisciplinary issues, such as emergence and ecological thinking, in diverse practice contexts.

She has published widely, and edited two books: Plastic Green: designing for environmental transformation (RMIT Press, 2009) and an issue of AD: The Innovation Imperative: Architectures of Vitality (Wiley, 2013).