Master Project

The Master Project, which is open for MA students, is a design project run over the course of a semester. The project, framed within a thematic investigation, is carried out in small groups, each contributing to a wider group study of a given situation and project. A specific neighbourhood or context is chosen in a European city within which students act on a variety of sites.

The main design engages with three overall themes: programme - examining arrangements of use and the spatial potential in the plan, type - exploring how type informs use and affects our experience and construction – seeking a rigorous and conceptual understanding of construction.

Underlying these themes is an interest in atmosphere in relation to experience and adjustment in relation to place. In the last two years emphasis has been given in the teaching to the programmatic theme of spatial planning and then to building type or typology. This year we are focusing on construction.

When we refer to construction we do so as both an artistic and practical endeavour. We encourage construction ideas which, through their strategy and detail, reinforce the idea of the building, the space within and the space between. We expect a practical understanding and an appropriate respect for structure and material. What we seek overall is an expression of an appropriate character, atmosphere and presence through the physicality of construction. Our interest is in the relationships between building, place and use. We therefore prioritise a phenomenological approach to the study of this theme which is analytical but based upon ideas and concepts rather than rules and dogma.

WS 23/24 – Master Project Embracing space
Inner-city living in Regensburg

The growing demand for housing is creating incessant pressure within European cities and a need to develop unused space or re-use existing structures within city centres. the Inner-city fabric provides opportunities, but also requires a sensitive approach to the need for privacy and daylight and creative ideas in plan and section. Projects located within the historic inner city are often muted or invisible from the street, not revealing their complexity, extent or spatial richness. Often only a limited facade expression is possible in relation to their scale. Accessed through passageways, courtyards or directly off the street these projects unfold to reveal their scale and it is only from the inside that they can be fully perceived. The interior elevations are often the primary public face of the project. They are primarily experienced as ‘inner worlds’ and it is interesting to consider what this means for their architectural identity.

This semester we shall explore how a residential development could be organized within an historic urban block. We wish to propose scenarios that offer characterful daylight and special moments of communal engagement, and the motivation to create a collection of fine rooms and interior spaces is at the centre of our thinking. We shall be considering the interfaces between the very public character of urban space and the much more private domestic space. The role of a courtyard or multiple courtyards, stairways and landings act as catalysts around which a community may thrive. Our task is to offer insights into how to make architecture that is dignified and humane in scale, rooted in place and metropolitan in character – with a confident and powerful presence. We are interested in developing plans that are open to appropriation, where the thresholds between ownerships are blurred or can be changed over time. This may mean that plans have multiple ‘front’ or ‘back’ doors, work with level changes and create interesting labyrinths in which dwelling can unfold.

The assignment is to design a ‘future-proofed’ building for living and working within an existing urban block in the stone city of Regensburg. One of Germany’s oldest cities founded by the Romans in 179 AD. The city is characterised by the green sandstone quarried from nearby Ihrlerstein and used in many buildings including the Stone Bridge - a material imported to Munich and used for the Münchner Residenz, Alte Pinakothek and the Neue Pinakothek. In keeping with this past tradition, we wish to further develop the use of solid and enduring materials for the primary structure and cladding for new buildings in the city as an investigation toward more sustainable and low energy construction strategies.

Our semester commences with a field trip to Sardinia to investigate the ancient tradition of Romanesque churches on the island. We will observe their strictly ordered proportions and the way their geometry is adjusted to the ground and site constraints. We will also visit the houses of the Italian architect Alberto Ponis from 1960 onwards. Inspired by the natural landscape and by the island’s ancient traditions, Ponis inserts his houses with great sensitivity into locations dominated by majestic granite boulders. The houses are accessed by ‘old ways’ or paths that often unfold further into the interior. We are interested in this robustness, the way buildings come to rest in the ground, working at many levels to form intimate enclosures, passively cooled and of their place.

Stephen Bates and Bruno Krucker, September 2023
Embracing space Regensburg


WS 23/24
Embracing space – Semester brief

Semester introduction

Introduction Exercise one

Introduction Exercise two

Instruction Exercise two

Drawing-Instruction Exercise two

Introduction Exercise three

Introduction Exercise four

Introduction Exercise five

Introduction Exercise six

Introduction References

Introduction Exercise seven

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