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Supervisor(s) Visit. Prof. Anuschka Kutz
Campus (BXL/Ghent) Campus Brussels & Remote.The studio will operate in hybrid mode, alternating 50/50 between on-site and remote mode.
Language (EN/NL) English
Studio or individual?  Studio, with Individual Thesis Projects
Max number of students? 10


“Our advanced political economies have created a world where complexity too often tends to produce elementary brutalities.” 

– Saskia Sassen (2014) Expulsions. Brutality and Complexity in the Global Economy. Cambridge,
Massachusetts / London, England: Harvard University Press, p.2.


Studio Urban Field Lab 


Sand Lines © Image by Elie Kutz-Rollings  

Studio Urban Field Lab will be working with the thematic framework of Fragilities. This year, our main focus will be on geo-political, territorial, land-related and environmental fragilities, but focusing on other fragilities, such as societal, political, economic and cultural fragilities would also be possible. We will interrogate how space is involved in these fragilities and develop mitigating and enhancing spatial strategies and proposals to edit, shift, repurpose and to harness unused potentials.  

In this studio, students propose their own project context and fragilities. Your sites and associated fragilities can be located anywhere in the world, in the deepest wilderness, in remote locations, in dense urban areas, on the coast, in rural areas or in key strategic sites. The Master studio with its global and local studentship offers a unique opportunity to collectively build capacities that outstrip our individual knowledge base, perspective and experience. By inviting you to set your own project context and focus within the set framework of Fragilities, we integrate your diverse backgrounds, lived experience and embodied expertise into the studio context. This will deepen our collective understanding of fragilities in a global context and permit us to explore differences and similarities across diverse projects. Given that this is your final work before graduating, nominating your project focus and context within the overall framework of Fragilities permits you to intensify work on important issues and contexts, helping you to also coin or strengthen your potential future professional or academic pathways or direction. You can select a fragility and context that you are personally connected with or that is related to your own background, or you can work on a fragility and context that you have a keen interest in. You propose your context and fragility at the beginning of the autumn term and in conversation we will clarify your approach so that you can undertake in-depth research in the autumn semester, followed by the development of your spatial response in semester 2. I welcome diverse project proposals. Previous projects were cited in Belgium, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Chile, China, Egypt, France, Germany, India, Italy, Jordan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Palestine, Paraguay, Romania, Turkey and the UK, situated in urban, peri-urban and rural contexts, as well as in institutional settings. 

We will work on concrete sites and concrete fragilities, bringing them ‘to the ground’. We are interested in real contexts and the livelihoods and spaces attached to particular fragilities. At the same time, our work will scrutinize the evolving nature of fragilities and the interconnections to multiple causes and interdependencies. Fragilities rarely derive from singular factors but are mostly entwined into complex multi-scalar forcefields, which are not static.  Realities on the ground are often messy and incongruent, defying neat abstractions or theoretical models. Our methods need be responsive to this. 

Our first task will be to carefully interrogate and examine the fragilities at hand, charting them and mapping out how space is implicated, before developing a spatial intervention. We will work in an investigative and multi-scaler manner, relating diverse scales from the remote to the close-up, the global, national, regional, city-wide, localized, inhabited, but also the personal, intimate, close-up scale, linking everyday life experiences of people and their environments, to wider urban systems and structures. Ethnographic tools will help us to engage with lived space. You will need to challenge known ways of working and embrace diverse and unfamiliar methodologies and knowledge fields across disciplines, such as geography, economics, ethnography, politics, urban planning, health, environmental science, sociology and art. The studio is research driven throughout, including the design process.  The final output will be articulated through comprehensive, detailed, in-depth and process-driven spatial project work as well as through a critically astute reflection paper. There is scope to individually scale the intensity you wish to bring to various deliverables. 

Studio Ethos 

Studio Urban Field Lab deals with real-world societal, political, economic and cultural transformations for which alternative spatial responses are sought. The studio sees itself as an advocate of our obligations towards the environment, the lifeworld, humanity and society. We need to step up to developing creative ways beyond technical solutions, to redistribute, to harness dormant opportunities, to tackle spatial surpluses, to edit, alter and shift, without conceding quality. We need to widen our role and practice field as architects, engaging in interdisciplinary work modes to tackle isolationist disciplinary responses, whilst at the same time using our inert expertise. Your projects will need to integrate a clear stance and commitment towards these issues by acting with conscience and care. We investigate and develop through critical practice. You will need to work beyond ‘final outputs’, committing to an in-depth, rigorous and critical ongoing research-driven process throughout. Stradling into other disciplines is encouraged.  

The studio will unfold in interaction with your projects and will act as a supportive debate platform and workshop. Collective activities and peer debates will be as important as more tailored project discussions with your promotor. You will need to work on your project in a self-directed manner. The studio will be of a hybrid nature, operating in-situ in Brussels but also remotely, most likely in an alternating mode (switching more or less on a weekly basis between on site and remote modes)s. We will meet on a weekly basis and use on-site as well as remote facilities (such as Miro). Invited guests will infuse our work. The studio language is English. 

Any questions, please email: Anuschka Kutz (anuschka.kutz@kuleuven.be 

See previous work here https://www.blog-archkuleuven.be/urban-field-lab/ 

Associated Website, current international research initiative the promotor is engaged in: https://www.ro3kvit.com/ 

Expected output:  

Individual Thesis Project consisting of a reflection paper, a digital portfolio and a physical exhibition / presentation of the research & spatial approach. Deliverables will be described in more detail in the extended Brief, but output will include short videos, drawings, physical models and other artefacts. 

Study trip? (+ timing): 

Students undertake their own field trip in Semester 1 or at the beginning of semester 2 (Feb / beginning of March), repeated individual field trip may be necessary. 

References/Further reading:  

An initial reading list will be provided in the extended Brief / Masterproef. Students will need to create additional reading lists centered on their specific project focus, fragility and context. 

© Image by Elie Kutz-Rollings