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(22-23) Incipient Raum

Can a detail save the world?


A Detail in (the) Making, (a) building in distress

Incipit: (Latin, meaning: to take in hand, begin, commence.)
And so, it begins: Imagine an unknown room, in an unknown edifice, in an unknown city.
Then ask this question: ‘How is it made?’

Incipient Raum Of Making

In the Incipient Raum projects start with the question of ‘how things are made’.  At the same time, ‘making’ is the modus operandi and ‘raison d’être’ of the Incipient Raum. And, when a line is drawn within the Incipient Raum, you are expected to imagine how that line can be materialised. You will be expected to observe how that line leads to another and is entangled with others.

Incipient as Spatial Condition

Incipient is borrowed from the Latin incipiēns, which means: present participle of incipiō (“begin”). It is mainly used as ‘beginning to happen or develop’ or as ‘developing into a specified type or role’. Soil for instance can be incipient. And how about spaces? Can they be incipient? Can the idea of the incipient address urgent themes in architecture? Think for instance of adapting existing spaces or the idea of non-extractive architecture?

The Detail (h)as Agency

Through architecture we transform. Not always through the production of new buildings, but more importantly, through the creation of (new) spatial relations. And agency plays a role in this. Agency has to do with performance and operationality. It fosters relationships. Agency is the capacity of an actor to act in a given environment. This actor in the case of the Incipient Raum is the detail. How does the detail act on the whole? And when we push the idea, as a member of the Incipient Raum you are invited to investigates how a detail can go beyond the mere solving of a technical issue and thus having real agency. Dare you ask: Can a detail save the world?

Incipient Themes

The Incipient Raum is a time and space in which you can give yourself the opportunity to explore and develop, through an intensive production of architectural artefacts of inquiry, your positions and attitude towards any of these themes:

> The unlocking of spatial opportunities of existing spaces;
> Exploring material reality and non-extractive architecture;
> Developing documentation of architecture as architecture (of documentation);
> Critically Caring: Can a detail save the world?

Through Making

Within the Incipient Raum, the production of architectural artefacts of inquiry is the driving force of a design discourse. The architectural research is in making and producing and finding fulfilment in the act of making.

Careful Observations

From careful observations of the hyper local conditions in and around an existing building in distress, an exploration of its materiality and context will develop. Through controlled experiments and the well-crafted documentation thereof, a transformation of the existing is induced. This architectural practice is one of realising spatial relationships, not one of producing program.

Controlled experiments

Architecture as a discipline or field has always benefited from a critical creative approach. Making and the production of many alternatives, studies and etudes, has been proven to be a super powerful generator of the new and the pertinent. And of spatial relationships. Experimentation through making will be the central motif of the Incipient Raum studio.

Well-crafted architectural artefacts

All of this is done through a series of experiments of architectural Incipient Explorations, in detail and otherwise. You will adopt different viewpoints simultaneously. Explore existing and often unnoticed spatial correspondences. But also, realise new correspondences. Through interweaving viewpoints and perspectives, you will gradually develop a strong design-based position and attitude. Your tools and method are characterised by a graphical way of critical thinking and making. The studio outcome is a collection of well-crafted drawings, maps, models, books… that together form a spatial hypothesis and in relationship to each other become an Incipient Raum. The drawing and the model, the detail and the material will take centre stage in your dissertation.

Incipient Disclaimer

You will start this studio by proposing a city that you have never been to before but are curious about. You will visit this city and discover there an existing building in distress. A building in distress is a building in need, a building in want. Distress can mean that is threatened with demolishment, that it is underused or has some as yet undisclosed qualities. It can equally be that the area surrounding the building is in distress and that you think the edifice might hold the key to address the cause of distress. In any case, you will take with you a non-fiction, non-architecture related book. In the edifice, the building, you will find a room and wonder: How is it made? And so, it begins.

Photo credit: Poème Architecturale, Julie Schumacher, Incipient Raum 2021


Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet, Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing (ed)
Critical Care, Architecture and Urbanism for a Broken Planet, Elke Krasny & Angelika Fitz (ed)
Drawing Without Erasing, Flores and Prats
Eclectic Atlases, Stefano Boeri
How Small, How Vast, Junya Ishigami
Less is More, Jason Hickel
Making, Tim Ingold
Non-Extractive Architecture, Space Caviar
Prospect and Refure, Annemarie Dosen
Space as Key Word, David Harvey
The Last Wall, Raoul De Keyser
The Means and Meanings of Dashed Lines, Paul Emmons

Previous editions of the Incipient Raum

To get an idea of the possibilities offered by the Incipient Raum please check the Incipient Raum blog posts on this page. You will see the results from the previous renditions of the studio and get a view on the activities and environment of the studio workings. You are also invited to visit the public jury on the 22nd of June in room SNS 421!

Questions and further information: If you have questions about this studio, do not hesitate to contact me: tomas.ooms@kuleuven.be


Campus: Ghent
Language: EN

The fellows of the Incipient Raum visit ‘Waiting Rooms of Architecture’

What precedes architecture? Architect and artist Malgorzata Maria Olchowskaexplores how personal and collective memories influence our view of the built environment. At the invitation of the Flanders Architecture Institute, she engages in dialogue with the collection of the Red Star Line Museum. Guided tour by the artist at the Red Star Line Museum (Antwerpen)


Mending Wall wins the HERSUS Prize on UNESCO Modern Heritage

Ekin Başkentli’s master thesis project ‘Mending Wall‘ has been awarded by the jury of the HERSUS Prize on Modern Heritage, UNESCO. Ekin completed her thesis in the Master of Architecture under the supervision of Tomas Ooms. The HERSUS Prize on Modern Heritage is an initiative within the Erasmus+ project Enhancing of Heritage Awareness and Sustainability […]


Mending Wall wins Van Hove Award 2022

Mending Wall, Documenting as an act of maintenance: Maintaining the border wall of Divided Nicosia (North-Nicosia, Cyprus) by Ekin Bastkenli wins the Van Hove Award 2022. Here is a link to the Catalogue Raisonné


In Limbo by Kobe De Greef

“In 2023 a dictator comes to power in Brussels and decides that a wall will be built around the city. No new materials are aloud to enter or leave the city. Building materials soon become  scarce. 30 years later, we look at the notes, sketches and thoughts of a journalist who had the opportunity to […]


The funeral offices of memory: a home for dead dogs by Fiachra McCarthy

The fortress of Montjuïc, Gerona, Spain stands as many other historical ruins, in a state of slow decay. It has been on this journey of decay since the day of its inception. The state in which the fortress can be seen today is the by-product of its rich history, a history that perhaps cannot be […]


A GOOD SOLID SENSE OF MORTALITY; What bread is made of An Anthology of Material by Montage of Miscellany and the Initiation of The Anthologist Architect, by Tara McKenna

This book is a figurative amendment to the index on the practice of architecture. It poses as a guide to an alternate practice of architecture, the anthological method. This methodology accounts for the recently unmeasurable aspects of a project, its apparently irrational data, and its irrelevant (until proven otherwise) affiliations. The issue with current architectural […]


Dis-Close, Living together in dense urban spaces: The case of Edinburgh by Silke D’haenen

Dis-Close documents explorations on Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland. The city’s distinctive natural land- scape of steep hills and deep valleys have shaped the city throughout time. Resulting in a particular topography and atmosphere. Challenges and restrictions of this dramatic landscape have caused the emergence of a unique urban fabric. These unique features are most […]


To Meet Galileo on Day Fourteen, An Ecclectic Architectural Documentary: The Case of Gjilan County Prison by Gjiltinë Isufi, Laureate 2022

To Meet Galileo on Day Fourteen is, initially, a response and an indignation to a widespread indifference towards buildings that are considered ‘architecturally insignificant’. It is often, that these buildings are the ones to hold the most valuable traces of the collective memory. The abandoned prison of Gjilan—the case study of this exploration—is the anchor […]


Laureate 2022 and Dean’s choice for members of the Incipient Raum!

The Incipient Raum is honoured to announce  that Gjiltinë Isufi won the Laureate prize of the International Master of Architecture and that Ekin Baskentli won the Dean’s choice prize with her dissertation project Mending Wall. Congrats to the both of them .


Final works of the 2022 Incipient Raum

The Incipient Raum resulted in these insightful and inspiring works: Mending Wall by Ekin Baskentli Brussels in Limbo by Kobe de Greef Dis-Close by Silke D’haenen The Fourth Wall by Hannah Gordts To Meet Galileo on Day Fourteen by Gjiltinë Isufi Common-Abilities by Martha Kennis Blindspots by Marylise Maroye The Funeral Offices of Memory: A […]


International Jury in the Incipient Raum

The Incipient Raum embraces tactility and engaging presentations. Being able to touch, move, replace, rearrange and discuss are important characteristics of the studio.  


Last internal review before the final jury

The well-crafted architectural artefact of inquiry takes a central position in the Incipient Raum Studio. It is the driver of careful observations, controlled experiments and the documentation of the explorations and discoveries.


Excursion to the Antwerp 1930 World Fair District

The Incipient Raum went on a field trip discovering the early modernist and late Art Deco gems in the Antwerp World Expo district.


Visitors of the Incipient Raum

During the spring semester of 2022 the Incipient Raum welcomed Malgorzata Maria Olchowska (York architecture), Johannes Berry (SUGIBERRY) and Argjirë Krasniqi as guests. They each gave a lecture on their practices and joined the remains of the day the studio.


Replica by Nastia Vinogradova

  “I understand publicness as an endless possibility of encountering, exchange and freedom to have privacy.” Replica, Nastia Vinogradova Catalogue Raisonné 


And Then a Fox Interrupted my Sketching

A poème architectural by Julie Schumacher. Poème Architectural


Métier-Poché by Renaud Mooyaert

  Work by Renaud Mooyaert. Intrigued by the dome of the Friedrichsbad in Baden Baden, poché-spaces are discovered and used as way to explore ‘métier’. Catalogue Raisonné    


A selection of works from the Incipient Raum Studio

Through Making The physical documents are central to the Incipient Raum Studio. Models, drawings, sketches, collages drive the design reflections. The final output is brought together as a spatial consolation during the reviews and jury and collated in a beautiful book: the catalogue raisonné. Architecture is a cognitive craft. And the Incipient Raum studio celebrates […]


Final jury at the Incipient Raum

Harold Fallon (AgwA architects), Lise De Pauw (Lise De Pauw Architects) and Oscar Rommens (Import-Export architects) and  join the Incipient Raum final jury.


Doorzon interior architects Stefanie Everaert and Caroline Lateur join the studio for a lecture and as guest critics


Incipient Raum Mid Term Review

Johannes Berry (Suguberri), Johan Nielsen (Manger-Nielsen) and Dalia Puodziute (Gijs Van Vaerenbergh) joined the mid-term review as guests.


Macbeth (f): Exploring the Possibilities of Polykatoikia as (Gradient) Public Interior​ by Asli Eylem Kolbas Selected for the Mamut Art Project Exhibition in Istanbul

Aslı Eylem Kolbaş transposes the modernist architecture movement in the first half of the 20th century with Shakespeare’s Macbeth in her series of 12 digital drawings. The setting is present-day Athens, which saw an influx of residents in the population exchange of 1923. Modernist architecture, especially Le Corbusier’s “Maison Dom-ino” model was implemented by the city […]


Felix Yuri Varaschini: Use in Decay; The illicit space of free time; The Amicale Solvay in Charleroi (BE)

The illicit space of free time is an account of a journey, an urban exploration, the narrative is composed of two volumes: in the first one explores Charleroi and its territory and the themes of foreignness, marginality and vacancy arise; in the second volume the journey lingers over the Amicale Solvay in Couillet and the […]


A Flavour of the International Jury Event at the Incipient Raum Studio

The Incipient Raum Studio values the physicality of the architectural document. The final presentation is an exhibition event in which you will showcase your well-crafted documents and through them, your dissertation project.      


Incipient Raum Studio in Residence

Each year at the start of the master dissertation studio semester, the Incipient Raum Studio goes in residence at an architectural office. Last year we were taking up shop at CRDBM in Brussels. During this residence, you will work on synthesising your first findings and proposals while you are embedded in an actual architectural practice. […]


Alessandro Cugola: Eternal Holiday. RIBA Silver Medal nominee

Eternal Holiday investigates human tendencies in referring to landscape and uses architecture as a medium to further experiment upon this relationship. The South Funen archipelago in Denmark is considered as a site of this exploration. Not only does it allow a discussion on themes such as isolation and ‘touristification’, but it also begins to engage a […]


Zuzanna Siedlecka: On Thresholding: Mediating and Negotiating the Sides of a Tourist City: Bruges Case (BE)

On Thresholding as a design-driven inquiry starts in and on Bruges as a touristic city. It is a portrait of the contradicting conditions of a touristic destination: the nostalgia for the past and the pace of the present; the city for inhabitants and the city for strangers. The mechanisms of tourism and heritage protection are the two […]


Leonie Van Bellingen: The Unexcavated: Architectures of Curiosity: Exploring a Spatial Condition, Copenhagen (DK)

As human beings we are driven by the desire to discover, by our curiosity of the unknown. The paradox is that when aware of an unknown space, and curiosity leads to the discovery, it disappears. It is not unknown anymore. The process of exploring however, is a spatial experience in itself, where the qualities of the […]


Marine Mamikonian: Architectural Documentary of observations; A Series of Architecture Portraits; Maastricht (NL) and Gent (BE)

The age of anxiety.. Like any other social phenomenon, architecture reflects the current state of its inhabitants. When the society is facing the global crisis such as pandemic, the urban life is transforming as well. As opposed to the intention of any city, which is characterised by the permanency and the poetry of its encounters, […]


Alberto Bovo: Liberated Spaces; Deconstructing superflous architecture to reinterpret the city; Urbino (IT)

Liberated Spaces as a designerly exploration have as their subject the city of Urbino, a small town in central Italy. It is characterised by an extremely well-preserved and well-protected architectural heritage. Besides its heritage, Urbino is also known for its university. It is one of the most ancient in Italy. Cut off from the major […]