Space as a Collaborator for Design: Get to Know the Works of Davidson Rafailidis

There’s something quite exciting about imagining how a particular space within an existing built form can dictate its use and vice-versa, how the function of a determined space can shape the space’s appearance, and the endless possibilities that this entails. This reciprocal process is a concept we often find in the works of the experimental architecture duo Davidson Rafailidis, whose projects evidence a thorough understanding of the existing form that results in a careful and thoughtful ensemble of dynamic architecture.

Stephanie Davidson and Georg Rafailidis met at the Architectural Association in London, and have been working together since 2015. They conceive of themselves as scholars who study the architectural space, rather than an architecture practice. Their works are built case studies, with each project being part of a continuous learning process. Coming from different nationalities—Greece, Germany, and Canada—and having studied in different countries while also teaching in North America, they have developed a way of making architecture that can be effectively applied in various contexts.

Looking at Davidson Rafailidis’ portfolio, we first encounter a common thread in all of the projects: a meticulous examination of the site, the immediate context, and the existing building. This thorough analysis allows for interventions that reuse what can be reused, leave untouched what can remain, and, most importantly, introduce minimal operations—such as openings, objects, or elements—precisely placed to enhance the existing space for new uses. 


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Restoration and stewardship of buildings is a very natural part of how we look at and work with the built environment.- Anything that we change or add to existing buildings should be done to serve the building’s longevity, and should not seem superfluous or use-specific — Stephanie Davidson

What’s also interesting about their work is their conception of the “Space for Something,” which is the idea of designing a space for all the unknown and future users and uses—we design everything for everyone. This approach not only translates into flexible spaces but also considers the building itself as a collaborator in the design process: not designing something for that particular space but rather in collaboration with it, resulting in polyvalent spaces where functions are not fixed and that change over time. 

Find below a compilation of Davidson Rafailidis’ built works.

Space for Something

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Continual Construction, Buckminster’s Cat Café

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Big Space Little Space

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He, She & It

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Café Fargo

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This article is part of an ArchDaily series titled Get to Know the Works of, where we look at the built portfolio of a studio, explore their creative process, and highlight their approach. As always, at ArchDaily, we greatly appreciate the contributions of our readers. If you think we should highlight a particular architectural firm, send us your suggestions.

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