The Bartlett School of Architecture


Marcela Araguez Escobar

Marcela Araguez Escobar - PhD profile



Spatial Uncertainty. Methods for the Creation of a Loosely Defined Architecture in the Cases of Cedric Price and Arata Isozaki

First and second supervisors 


Drawing on the context of the late post-war period, this research aims to address the concept of uncertainty in architecture understood as a design tool that provides the necessary degrees of freedom for a space to behave in a flexible way and is able to accommodate unforeseen functions. The work starts with the review of two pioneering positions emerging in the 1960s, Cedric Price in Britain and Arata Isozaki in Japan. 

Although both architects pursued the creation and theorization of spaces that could encompass changes in time, they greatly differ in their cultural contexts and theoretical backgrounds. The work aims to fill the apparent gap between eastern and western debates on the topic, with the convincement that the encounters and disjunctions originated when confronting Price’s advocacy for the Delight in the Unknown and Isozaki’s metaphorical and experiential understanding of space in time constitutes a unique framework for the definition of architectural uncertainty in this historical period.

This research raises two particular enquiries. Firstly, the extent to which the architects paradoxically define controlling methods to ensure the elimination of permanent properties in the built form and secondly, the understanding of the morphological and configurational constraints that inevitably define the realm of the ‘architecturally possible’.

To do so, the research intends to review selected buildings from the case studies by using some methods of spatial exploration, especially those created in the Centre for Land Use and Built Form Studies at Cambridge University in the late sixties-early seventies and the configurational theories developed by Bill Hillier and colleagues at UCL.

This will be coupled with a theoretical discussion in which aspects like the socialist and technological agenda of Price’s work and the retrieval by Isozaki of traditional Japanese concepts that refer to space as an indivisible entity from time and in continuous transformation are to be addressed.


Marcela is a researcher and practitioner in architecture. She holds a BSc and MArch from the University of Granada and an MSc in Spatial Design from the Bartlett School of Architecture, where she was awarded with the UCL Turner Prize for best dissertation.

She has practiced in architectural offices in Spain (espegel-fisac arquitectos) and Switzerland (Iwan Bühler Architekturbüro). Her research is situated between the configurational understanding of flexible spaces and the theoretical exploration of design methods in the framework of the post-war period.

Part of her research has been recently displayed in the exhibition ‘CH-JP Building in Context’ in Lausanne and Geneva. Marcela is currently editor in LOBBY Magazine curating ‘The Lift’ section and she is part of the Learning Team at the Royal Institute of British Architects. 

Sources of Funding

  • Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation
  • Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain Travel Grant
  • Japan Foundation Travel Grant