Performative Spatial Design - a study of the event SMK Fridays

Birgitte Klæbel

Studenteropgave: Speciale


This master’s thesis addresses a tendency of cultural state institutions that use spatial design through temporary events as a strategic tool to gain a higher number of visitors and validate their existence within the public sector. I exemplify this with the case: SMK Fridays at the Danish National Museum, which derives from the concept ‘Museum Lates’ – an evening at a museum, to give a new insight of the museum. The aim of this thesis is to discover the potentials of the spatial design of the conceptual event. The research question aims at critically investigating the materiality of the event concept implemented in a historically building, SMK, on the basis of my findings. The case that has been chosen represents an example of the development among culture state institutions, which take directions towards commercialism and experience economy. I draw on ethnographic fieldwork and hereby seek to conduct a methodological triangulation. The empirical data consist of participant observations, field notes, photographs, documents, designer interviews and visitor interviews. These methods seek (1) to investigate the space of SMK Fridays in relation to the intended idea of the concept, (2) to observe the relations of the designed space and the spatial components, and lastly (3) to get an understanding of the visitor’s experience. The theoretical framework focuses on a socio-material ontology with focus on the concepts of ‘space’, ‘performance’, ‘genius loci’ and ‘experience’ in order to understand the material aspect of the event and the spatial design. This paper argues that the architecture and space of SMK can shape the social interaction, but also that the interaction of the non-human and human actor influences the space. Moreover, I argue that the designed spaces of the event are experienced in a variety of ways; the sensuous experience is an important part of creating the site-generated experience. Lighting and atmospheric soundscapes are active components in creating social situations and engaging performance. I conclude that material, immaterial, human, and non-human spatial components therefore mutually shape interactions and meanings, and thereby co-constitute meaningful experiences, when they relate to each other - the event, space and place.

UddannelserSpatial Design and Society, (Bachelor/kandidatuddannelse) Kandidat
VejledereDavid Pinder


  • spatial designs
  • museum events
  • performativity
  • Albena Yaneva
  • Dorita Hannah