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'First-time objects' & 'present-momentness'

Design Studio Maig14
2023/2024, Semester 1
Dag Boutsen

This Design Studio wants to bring the wild and free 80’s in Amsterdam back to today. We will learn about highly professional squatters of the time, how they structured and shaped their surroundings, how they dealt with rules and freedom, and especially how they incorporated instant objects into their architecture and design.

From 1990 until 1997 and from 2006 until 2008 British artist Dave Carr Smith researched and documented four squatted industrial buildings in Amsterdam’s city centre. The result of his extensive research is entitled Improvised Architecture in Amsterdam: Industrial Squats and Collectives, a visual document of the transformation of a former grain silo, a type foundry, a warehouse and a dockers’ canteen.

The unique collection of photographs, descriptions, and drawings made by residents, give an insight in to the spatial transformation of the existing architecture and the changes made to the buildings’ interior. Although the industrial spaces themselves are part of architectural history, the inventive use of space by the squatters has scarcely been documented and is therefore often invisible. Carr-Smiths’ work provides a unique image of a city that offers space for an architecture of improvisation.

This studio combines

  • an analytical look at a specific period and context (Amsterdam, ‘80-ties),
  • discussions with London-based Dave Carr-Smith
  • a personal investigation into the relevance of that movement
  • and a contemporary design project that pays homage to these concepts.


Studio trajectory

View the course assignment and studio presentation (pdf)