The Bartlett School of Architecture


David Kirsh lecture series

25 June 2018–05 July 2018, 6:30 pm–7:30 pm

A bright light on the ceiling in a pitch black room with people below blurred through movement

Professor David Kirsh delivers two talks exploring the role of projection and how we perceive interior space.

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The Bartlett School of Architecture


Room 6.02, The Bartlett, 22 Gordon Street, London, WC1H 0QB

25 June 2018 - 6:30pm-7:30pm

Projection, imagination and reasoning with our eyes 

In cognitive science, mental projection – like imagination – is personally controlled imagery. It differs from imagination in that the visualised elements are integrated into our perceptual stream. Arguably animals have the capacity to project onto scenes. Humans do it much better and for different reasons. Projection enables us to reason using our perceptual systems, with our eyes, ears, taste, or bodies.  

Architects project onto diagrams, plans and physical structures in order to solve hard problems. They imagine possible futures often going way beyond what is physically present. How do they do this? How can they do it better? In this talk, David will explain the cognitive process of projection, show how it is part of powerful interactive cognitive strategies we rely on, and discuss how we can enhance environments to project and reason in more complex ways.

 05 July 2018 - 6:30pm-7:30pm

A new theory of interactivity and interfaces and why it matters for architecture 

Our immediate environment functions like a cognitive biome – a cocoon of mind tools provided by technology and accelerated by the digital and AI (Artificial Intelligence) revolution. Because we are embedded in this biome of mental supports, we are like cognitive symbionts, dependent on outside technologies to help us think and imagine. This has significant implications for the design of structures, surfaces and objects. As technology accelerates, the way we think with the things around us, even for mundane purposes, is changing. We face new sorts of architectural and cognitive interfaces and new sorts of interactions. 

Architects, like it or not, are at the forefront of this changing world. From extensive interviews with architects, David has come to believe that architecture already has the implicit concepts to cope. In this talk, he discusses the deep and under-appreciated ideas that architects have about interfaces and interactivity.  


David Kirsh is currently Leverhulme Visiting Professor of Architecture at The Bartlett.  He also runs the Interactive Cognition Lab at the University of California, San Diego, where the focus is on how the environment can be shaped to extend cognition. This includes how we intelligently use space, and how we use physical models and other external representations as interactive tools to stimulate thought and creativity.

He is Professor and past Chair of the Department of Cognitive Science at UCSD. He was educated at Oxford University (D.Phil), did post-doctoral research at MIT in the Artificial Intelligence Lab, and has held research or visiting professor positions at Stanford University and MIT. David is also Adjunct Professor at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance and a director of the Academy of Neuroscience for Architecture.