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The emanation of the commons

Architecture in a city without majorities

Academic year 2020-21, studio MAIB 24, semester 2, Brussels

by Patrick Moyersoen and Jasmien Wouters

A city without majorities: The studio is rooted in Brussels, as a sample of a metropolitan environment going through steep transformations. The changes of demographics, the shift of perspectives by uprising movements, the local so much entangled in the global, the vast consequences of climate change, the new awareness of vulnerabilities by the pandemic, the dematerialization in a digital age, … are altering the fundamentals of a city as Brussels. Old narratives became obsolete and there is a urgent need for conglomerating dynamics, tying the city together was it for a moment, taken into account the hyper diversity, the inequalities, the rapid changes but also the strength of the urban context to ferment common ground.

The commons: Within the gaze of urban life, there are shared moments. Stolen or frozen times when individual tracks suddenly converge and exchanges occur beyond differences. Based on shared interest in resources, needs or social interest, commons only prosper when there is also a shared investment. Sharing resources, sharing management, sharing risks, sharing the outcome…: new economics that can create a dense social fabric.
Architecture: Architecture needs to invent new forms to fulfil its promise to create a roof for public life, since public life and the notion of the commons has evolved so deeply. Roof, walls, floor and ceiling, the openings we create, the sequences we orchestrate through pathways, the light we embrace, the touch of chosen materials, the attention for the detail : can architecture connect with the contemporary or propose a future city? Can it propose or emanate a possible common?

The studio will allow students to develop a personal stance regarding these topics. By investigating a possible architectural proposal for a larger scale intervention, the project will test and propose a renewed urban architecture for the Brussels of the XXI° century.

The focus will be architectural: how a more collective dimension can be installed in between the private and the public, by common facilities, dealing with themes as the history and the future of places, responsible use of resources, the built and the unbuilt, the articulation of privacy and public exposure…

The studio is a journey exploring the existing realities and known typologies of common places, analyzing and projecting contemporary way (s!) of life in the inner city, designing new urban forms and materializing them into a significant depth, to become concrete architectural proposals that can be experienced and debated.
The studio is no linear experience, it’s an iterative learning process. Discursive interventions will upload the conversations we’ll have, because the creation of architecture has to be imbedded in a wider discussion about society, world affairs and the cultural field.

But foremost, the studio is rooted in the honesty of the making. Through the act of making – drawings, plans, models, images… – the design takes form. This work is the driving force of our exchanges, challenged week by week, allowing you to go into the depth of your design, from the urban till a tactile scale. Based on sound research and the act to design, students will be encouraged to develop a line of reflection and a personal architectural language.
The studio is about exploring the contemporary urban condition, through explorative design.