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All or Nothing (Craftsmanship)

All or Nothing (Craftsmanship)
Tutor(s) jan van gassen, frederik tonneau, NN
Campus Ghent
Language EN
Engagement Craftsmanship (2 studios)
Semester 2



tandem studio

2 studios craftsmanship and 1 studio urban cultures join forces. The studios run in parallel and are complementary.

The joint studio is based on ‘design through research’. Although the studios/engagements have a common goal, they each have their own focus, which is why they have two different project descriptions.  By linking studios from both engagements, research with their own focus within each engagement can be used complementarily in the design/development of a sustainable neighborhood within the urban fabric. Linking the studios also allows a diverse teaching team with broad and diverse expertise.


All or nothing refers to the changes caused by the climate crisis, to the urgency to design sustainably. Urgent because we must now design sustainably and flexibly or we end up with nothing. In that context, it is essential to think design-wise about how we can separate our designs from specific “all or none” programs/content and strict spatial configurations of open/urban space.

description of the STUDIO

Architecture in a dynamic urban landscape in the making. How can we design a building that can evolve both architecturally and ecologically. What are the preconditions for designing a sustainable building/urban district. What are the preconditions for designing a qualitative and adaptable building without a specific program. What is the impact on structure, technical installations and spatiality.

Arsenaal site: an urban context that we consider as a canvas to design architecture and public/collective space without a program. We expect projects that are robust and challenge to conceive regenerative interventions within which both building and open space can (continue to) evolve into new “intelligent ruins.”


The Arsenaal site in Gentbrugge offers sufficient opportunities to develop such design-based research from both an urban and architectural perspective.

The Arsenaal site is a former train workshop, characterized by sheds, tracks and service buildings. The 12 ha site was developed in 1881. The ambition of the city of Ghent is to realize a new urban environment on the site in which living, work, culture and nature will be interwoven. This ambition fits into the broader environment of the arsenal site. The environment is a juxtaposition of culture ( oa festival fourchette, society project SAAMO, amazing Asia festival…), recreation (oa Shorttrack club, sports park Flora, an ice rink…), education (elementary school the clovers, campus Vesalius, St Gregoriuscollege…), nature (Liedermeerspark, park the ponds, neighbourhood park De Porre, Adolf Papelenpark…), infrastructure ( the E17, two exit complexes with infrastructure greenery) and small-scale living.

Both architecture and open space should be dynamic projects that are incrementally realized. Currently only limited parts of the site are usable ( due to pollution?). The city already provides a green leisure space of 17 000 m2 with mobile landscape elements ( bins with valuable trees) for the surrounding neighborhoods. We explore how to create a sustainable open space for the whole site where the pollution issue can be used in function of water management, energy and planting as well as provide new relationships with future development.

Accessibility to the site is problematic. The city wants to implement a project that minimizes car traffic and soften (make permeable) the entire site as much as possible.

The existing sheds and infrastructure on the site are of various quality. Some have heritage value. Students will choose whether sheds will be retained and renovated or demolished based on research formulated by the city of Ghent.

We do not design master plans but a strategy ( in group) to shape the site. Within that strategy, we focus on architectural projects that are flexible and can incrementally develop the site. Students choose their own project and location after visiting the site and the wider surroundings and thus determine the final contour of the project site.


PART 1: group work

The craftsmanship studio works in the first weeks as a lab divided into subgroups that each study a theme (space/adapt, circular, materials, energy…) and through a group discussion outline possible structural and architectural strategies.

Each group researches a sustainable topic (from theory course) for in-depth research, the topics are linked to the student’s chosen engagement.

Each group researches various architectural case studies within the topic of sustainable building methodology and building/without content.

In addition to a graphical report of the analysis(s), a joint model (growing map) will be created. Based on the group discussion, students in subgroups will work with the results of the analysis to design a (generic) building (+-3000m2) without a specific program and an open space strategy in dialogue with the building. The goal is to design an intelligent building and open space that can handle different functions. A building and open space based on research and data, but where the space exceeds the number of m² from an excel-sheet. A strategy that leaves something of value for future generations.

The collaborative growing maquette is an important research tool in the next phase where students work in groups of 3 on a building and its immediate surroundings on the arsenal site. Those models are a zoom on the growing maquette

End point part 1: basic building with or without outer shell, taking into account research/analyses and context.

PART 2: individual work

In a second phase each student works further on the group work but now makes a specific interpretation according to (given or self-chosen) program. Through this the individual students show their own qualities as well as the building’s qualities from the group work. Each student integrates 2 functions, resulting in 3 variant buildings on the basic building

The cross-section is main research tool in this phase.

Program consists of (students make a choice in this based on the ambitions of the city of Ghent):

75% classic program: housing, office, … (student’s choice)

25% alternative program (assigned by teacher)

End point part 2: Each student proposes a sustainable building with functional interpretation and specific relationship to the immediate open space and the territory in general. The various buildings together form a sustainable village (studio result) within the urban context.

Expected output:


– Analysis drawings ( early sem) and interpretation diagrams that clarify the urgency of the design research (booklet)

– Plans of the project at scale 1/100 or 1/50  including immediate context

– Cross section showing the users perception of the design as well as demonstrating the incorporation   of the various analyses/topics into the design

– Detail drawings on scale 1/10 showing the main construction nodes of the project

– Model.

– “Growing model” maquette that places the different interventions in dialogue

– Detailed model of the finished building including materialization and architectural aspects


Week1-3:            research of the general themes ( water, pollution, energy, mobility, history, space/adapt, circular, materials…). +first intuitive intervention on the site

Week 4-6:           design of the building without program (group) + open space strategy

Week 7:               review (group) = atelier week

Week 8-11:        design building in dialogue with context + building with functional program (individual)

Week 12-13:      elaboration of proposal (individual)

Week14:              evaluation (group + individual)

References/Further reading:

‐ Vital Architecture, tools for durability (NAI010: bas Kegge, Ruud Roorda)

‐ Be2226 the temperature of architecture (Birkhauser)

‐ Building simply, a guideline (Birkhauser: Florian Nagler)

– Urban by nature IABR 2014

Case studies

‐ Bruther (Palaiseau, paris)

‐ lacaton & Vassal

‐ BC architects

‐ office KGDVS (164 kortrijk, 39 buggenhout, 51 Ordos)

‐ office KGDVS (architecture without content)

‐ alejandro aravena (elemantal monterrey, quinta monroy, villa verde housing)

‐ baumschlager&eberle (building 2226)

‐ F. Nagler (3 ‘identical’ building near München)

‐ SUMMACUMFEMMER, Buro Juliane Greb (San Riemo, München)

‐ BeL SOZIETAT FUR ARCHITEKTUR (grundbau und siedler Hamburg)

‐ 51N4E (WTC torens: how not to demolisch a building)

‐ H arquitectes

‐ Brandlhuber


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