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(22-23) The emanation of the commons

Academic year 2022-23, semester 2, Brussels
Master of Architecture
By Patrick Moyersoen & Jasmien Wouters

The emanation of the commons

Cities are a more or less well-structured conglomerate of people, open spaces and build up. Urban culture is an evolving set of implicit or explicit codes that set the condition of public life. Public life happens surrounded by the backdrop of private life, the intimacy of the internal life of individuals, families and other specific social groups.

The studio is investigating in opening up spaces of a third kind. In so doing, it draws on Brussels’s existing urban fabric. The prospect of the studio this year is the Anti-bodies.
Anti because the positioning will be in relationship with pre-existing bodies of architecture, breaking through the spatial dichotomy between the private (or the privatised) and the public.
Bodies because we will research architecture in its bodily dimension, exploring the subversive powers of spatial poetics.
Anti-bodies as a metaphorical strategy, activating an agency that plays the systems in place, turning fragilities in places of strength and resistance. Let’s be cautious revolutionaries, or revolutionize carefulness.[i]

Sketch by Morandi, 1959

The studio is researching the power of architecture to create spaces that, by its nature, its build up, its intrinsic poetics, sets the stage for a third urban condition, a shared experience, and therefore a common. Hence the title of the studio, the emanation of the commons.

The substance of the studio
We will focus on the architectural design of a great interior, a room for communality, the presence in the city of the design, and how it interact with the urban intimacy.

How can we design a qualitative building from an open program, without the result threatening to become generic or banal. What typology can we design for this? How can we make buildings that are about encounter and inclusion for all citizens of the city?

Drawing by Clement Luk Laurencio

In parallel, we will investigate the materiality of the city, not only for its physical qualities but as a signifier, as a gateway to the immateriality of the “cultures of the urban”. The tangible city is a world created out of concrete, glass, brick, wood, trees, water, tiles of different substances… characterised by consistency, grain and fibers, colors, textures, resistances and weaknesses.

We will analyse different cases, buildings in Brussels, and from there, in coherence or in contrast, distil a palette of materials. These materials, with their specific ways to be build up, form the basis for a tectonical design, in relation to the existing buildings.

National Library, Ljubljana, Joze Plecnik

The ways of the studio
The art of the making: the studio is focusing on the craft of the design, by using the careful making of models and drawings as a powerful tool to explore, and develop design ideas. Experiment and experience are central and therefore we will work and rework a selected number of documents, to gain maximum depth and definition.

Positioning: the studio aims to strengthen your position within the discipline and in the broader societal debates. The starting point of every encounter is what you bring on the table, your experiences and ambitions, and develop this through the proposal and a critical questioning.

Organisation: the studio uses formats that allow it to develop individual work but also have a strong interrelationship with peers’ work. We belief strongly in the importance of a studio dynamic, as a learning platform, involving actively all actors.


The outcome
An urban architectural proposal, defined through different scales, represented by limited, but well-made documents collected in a booklet: a triad of models (tectonical, architectural, urban), a telling section, a perspective, an artwork.

Booklet of students 2020-21: Veronica Marie Volz & Eglė Kliučinskaitė

[i] Cf Bruno Latour, A Cautious Prometheus? A Few Steps Toward a Philosophy of Design (with Special Attention to Peter Sloterdijk), Keynote lecture for the Networks of Design*meeting of the Design History Society, Falmouth, Cornwall, 3rd September 2008

Image: The Encounter (Video, ’22), Adrian Paci, 2011
The video work “The Encounter” shows a man, who places a chair in the middle of a public square. He takes a seat. Gradually, several hundred protagonists enter the square and approach the seated man in order to shake his hand. The simple and habitual gesture of the handshake is repeated so often that it transforms itself into a meaningful ritual. While the reason for the ceremonious meeting remains unknown, the encounter between the participants becomes charged with tension. A moment of connection occurs, not only between the persons, but also between the participants and the square, which is transformed into a stage. The video work was produced in the town of Scicli on Sicily.