The Master Project, which is open for Diploma and 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.
SS 21 – Master Project
Architecture at the fringe and for the future
As the city expands physically from the centre outwards and at the same time invisibly contracts through the growing dominance of digital communication the question of where an appropriate location is to ground buildings grows. The global Covid-19 pandemic has also brought into question the future relationship between working and living and challenged the traditional autonomy between the two activities. Therefore as we continue to speculate upon the potential of the European city we draw our attention to the places of change, the fringes of the traditional centre, the sub-centres, the ring-roads, the outer edges of the transport network. These locations are often challenged by noise pollution, connectivity, lack of coherent urban structuring and are neglected by city authorities and imbued with negative associations by citizens. And yet they have the potential to be transformed and given renewed value.
In previous semesters we have investigated the potential of buildings as infrastructures or intelligent ruins; spatial structures that facilitate use, that can be designed for an unknown future. This semester we wish to renew our focus on this theme, of buildings which are useful, suitable, usable and re-usable and with a strong physical identity. Buildings which have an expression of an economy of means and an economy of energy. Buildings that support ideas of a social sustainability and act as carriers of culture and guardians of cultural continuity and collective space. We may call these ‘Transformational Buildings’, highly flexible shells that provide for a multitude of possible uses in which living is at the heart. To design such buildings it is necessary to define its core values - its essence, as an urban figure and spatial experience.
The assignment this semester is to invent new structures on a number of sites in and around the city and periphery of Munich. These new buildings will be developed, either through the manipulation of existing prefabricated structural systems or through more bespoke, site specific structures, but always with an eye towards sustainability, towards environmental and structural efficiency. We ask you to think in both the short and the long term, to identify through structural expression and material choice an appropriate character that is not only flexible but also strong and open for adaptation and appropriation. The task will require you to not only specify and demonstrate the initial use of the building but also reveal and illustrate a second and third future use. You will have to think both from the present to the future but also from the future back to the present. While the use and occupation may change the architectural figure remains durable and firm. As Rafael Moneo writes “If architecture is established with firmness it will remain open to new interventions which prolong the life of the building indefinitely... The life of buildings is supported by its architecture, by the durability of its most characteristic formal means. Although it seems paradoxical it is this durability which makes change perceptible. Respect for architectonic identity is what makes change possible, what guarantees its life.”
Stephen Bates and Bruno Krucker, March 2021
Transformational Buildings – Semester Brief
Guest lecture by Thomas Romm
Introduction Exercise one: The Lifes of Buildings
Introduction Exercise two: Structure
* password required