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Territories, Fragilities & Ingenuity

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Graduation studio
Promotor Anuschka Kutz

Territories,Fragilities & Ingenuity.

Editing existing urban landscapes, spaces and institutions.

 Studio UFL (Urban Field Lab) deals with acute and profound societal and economic transformations for which alternative spatial responses are sought. Demographic and societal shifts have created a greater diversity of the population but they have also lead to increasingly ageing populations. An intensification of migratory streams and mobility patterns, over-ageing communities, changing work-live conditions, a diversification of household formations, scarcity and unaffordability of living and working spaces, privatisation of hitherto public spaces, the breaking down of infrastructures and the scaling down of public funds, all put enormous pressures on our urban and rural environments and communities. These pressures do not only lead to stark statistics, but they have a real bearing on the everyday lives of citizens. They challenge conventional conceptions of urban planning and space making and redefine our disciplinary roles and framework, prompting us to find novel ways to create spatial territories.

Territories are on one hand defined by a system of power to define, manage and control physical but also social and political space, be this in an implicit or explicit manner, but at the same time the making and claiming of territories also has the potential to shift powers, whether this is on the scale of a nation, the local realm, an institution or a room. Territories exist in all scales, and the studio intends to work with this by paying attention to a multi-scalar approach. Territories are also inextricably linked to Formal and Informal structures of inhabitation and space making (Roy, AlSayyad 2004) and are hence intertwined with overriding strategies and employed tactics, as defined by Michel De Certeau (De Certeau 1984).

It can be argued that the ‘frozen territories’ that we have devised in our cities to conduct our lives are no longer working. ‘Office block city centres’, ‘mono-dimensional suburban residential structures’ and ‘island-like institutions’ have created territories that isolate realms and ‘freeze’ conditions in space and time. Which opportunities does this practice steal from us?

We will devise a multi-scalar approach, working on the global, national, regional, city-wide, localized, inhabited, but also the personal close-up scale, testing and re-scribing established boundaries and territories in drastically contrasting scales, from the room, to the local neighbourhood to overriding infrastructures and civic systems. In doing so we will bring the debate right down to the ground, to the everyday lives of people, whilst at the same time linking it to wider urban systems. The urban condition resides in all scales; with the close-up personal scale being deeply connected to larger urban forces and vice versa (Hall, 2012).

Rather than creating another set of spatial doctrines, the ambition of the studio is to infuse and enhance, picking up left-overs, making alliances, grafting typologies, crisscrossing territories, using hidden resources and twisting and squeezing opportunities out of the current condition. Whilst our approach will be radical and rigorous, our ambition will be humble: the creation of more dignified – perhaps more uncertain – spaces that invite diverse forms of appropriations, accommodating changes and shifts. Your interventions might focus on the detailed domestic scale, editing our idea of home, community or care, you might concentrate on editing existing institutions or urban structures, creating cross-breads, inviting diverse forms of appropriation, under the thematic heading of Heterodoxy. Between fragility and exposure we will construct spaces of dignity and opportunity to inhabit and not only to own.

Students in Brussels and Ghent will be able to set their own agendas and select their own spatial contexts, but a joint focus on societal change will provide a thematic entry point whilst the spatial context of South-East London will provide students with a possible context to engage with.  Students can, however, suggest their own context if they have a strong interest in a particular issues. Students from Gent can also apply for the studio.

Anuschka Kutz, June 2019.

View the studio presentation as pdf here: Part 1, Part 2

Any questions, please email: Anuschka Kutz