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(21-22) Other ways of doing architecture: designing situations

Master dissertation studio, academic year 2021-22, Ghent, Brussels
Tutor: Dag Boutsen

(including considerations on the related architectural languages producing unexpectedness, and thus enchantment)

This master dissertation studio will focus on the 5 means through which architectural actions or products are achieved when designing situations. These 5 means, including a (historical) database form the basis of a project called Spatial Agency (www.spatialagency.net). A project team lead by Tatjana Schneider and Jeremy Till worked on this website and book.

The interest in means such as appropriation, dissemination, empowerment, networking and subversion emerges out of my expertise in co-creative design. My career as an architect is built up on numerous workshops with stakeholders, large housing projects in Europe based on participatory design processes, work with Lucien Kroll, exhibitions with Patrick Bouchain, research work, etc…

Spatial Agency is a project that presents a new way of looking at how buildings and space can be produced. Moving away from architecture’s traditional focus on the look and making of buildings, Spatial Agency proposes a much more expansive field of opportunities in which architects and non-architects can operate. It suggests other ways of doing architecture.

In the spirit of Cedric Price the project started with the belief that a building is not necessarily the best solution to a spatial problem. The project attempts to uncover a second history of architecture, one that moves sharply away from the figure of the architect as individual hero, and replaces it with a much more collaborative approach in which agents act with, and on behalf of, others.

It is the first time that such a collection of alternative approaches to architectural production have been brought together in one place.

This website is an extendable repository of examples of Spatial Agency. The database is sortable into broad thematic areas that group the motivations (why?), locations (where?) and means (how?) of Spatial Agency. Each entry has a link to its own website in the title bar, and then references and links to associated groups and subjects at the bottom, opening up to an international network of spatial agents.


Studio trajectory

Starting point in this studio is Paul Chemetov’s Patinoire (ice skating rink) in Saint-Ouen, France, a structuring multifunctional complex with an amazing allure, build between 1975 and 1979. We’ll visit the building and dig into the story behind it. We’ll discuss the zeitgeist, the intentions, the ideology.

We will then plunge into the spirit of related ‘other ways of doing architecture’ and search for similar properties in the Spatial Agency database.

We will discuss online with Patrick Bouchain, Tatjana Schneider and other experts about architectural languages producing unexpectedness, and thus enchantment.

We then process findings in different ways, based on mutual agreements.

These findings will form the base of own thought designed situation(s) which will be transformed into a story. Resulting in an architectural discourse, reflection, intervention developed and presented through a series of well-crafted documents that reflect on the thought situation.

View the studio presention here (pdf)