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Master Dissertation

Promotor: Tomas Ooms

The studio also welcomes students that are on internal exchange program in the fall semester.

Contact: Tomas Ooms


A Detail in (the) Making

Incipit: (Latin, meaning: to take in hand, begin, commence.)

And so, it begins

Your dissertation starts in an unknown room, in an unknown edifice, in an unknown city with the question: ‘How is it made?’

Incipient Raum In Making

Your dissertation will revolve around the question of how things are made. You are invited to explore the role of making in architectural practice. At the same time, making is going to be the central working method of the studio. Through asking the key question of ‘how things are made’, you will develop an understanding of how things work. With ‘things’ we mean: a space, a site, a city, spatial relations, a detail…

Simultaneously, when you draw a line, you are expected to be thinking about how this line can be materialised. Obviously, this implies observation, experimentation and imagination.

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. This means that it contains the basis and provides for vegetation establishment. Something is present that ensures something will grow (happen later) under the right circumstances. In principle, a certain condition is present. You will explore how a spatial condition can be incipient. Since the incipient is related to a future situation, thinking and designing, for it demands of you to believe in the future…

The Detail (h)as Agency

Through architecture we ambition to transform. Not always with the production of buildings, but through the creation of 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 (detail) to act in a given environment (whole). The Incipient Raum studio investigates how a detail can go beyond the mere solving of a technical issue and thus having agency. Through questions like: What is the relationship between the architectural detail and the conceptual intent of the building to which it belongs? Are there only ornamental details that can have agency or do other types of details possess agency? Can a detail save the world?

Through Making

Architecture is a cognitive craft. And the Incipient Raum studio celebrates this. It sees the production of architectural artefacts of inquiry as the driving force of a design. The architectural research is in making and producing and finding fulfilment in the act of making. 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. Experimentation through making will be the central motif of the Incipient Raum studio.

Careful Observations

From careful observations of the hyper local conditions in and around an existing building, you will explore its materiality and context. You will uncover and make visible what local topics and themes are relevant and merit a closer look and understanding. On the basis of this knowledge you will formulate an intervention that leads to a transformation of the existing conditions. 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. You can explore the books from the previous renditions of the Incipient Raum studio elsewhere on this webpage.

In Practice

The studio affiliates with the In Practice Research group.

In Practice is an interuniversity research group of practising architects engaging their practice(s) at the heart of their research. In Practice explores the multiple ways in which architects can engage their professional architecture practice in academic research and reciprocally. In Practice seeks to open a space for architecture practices in research through the development of doctoral and postdoctoral research projects, conferences, publications and design studios.


Incipient Disclaimer

Somewhere in the background, laying incipient, there is the theme of ‘degrowth’. It is possible this studio explores a self-effacing design attitude. But first, you will need to select the unknown city from which you will start. This can be any city, as long as you have never been there before.



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

First inspirations:

Less is More, Jason Hickel
Eclectic Atlases, Stefano Boeri
Making, Tim Ingold
Space as Key Word, David Harvey
How Small, How Vast, Junya Ishigami
Drawing Without Erasing, Flores and Prats
The Last Wall, Raoul De Keyser

Video presentation: I opted not to make a video and prefer to talk to you in person. So, do not hesitate to contact me: Tomas Ooms

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


Sander Rutgers (LDSRa) joins the studio for a lecture and guest critic


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 […]


Marta Gruca: About:blank: In a Search for the (Other) Incipience: Twelve Design Metaphors: Noisy-Le-Grand (FR)

A journey of constant inquiry. What is a border? How are antonyms synonyms? How can the ugly seduce? What is ugly then? How can the in-between be isolated? How ‘belonging to everyone’ belongs to no one? Is empty really that empty? About:blank embraces a meta reflection about the fields of exploration – the unknown room, […]


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 […]


Alwies Vandaele: Shaping the hidden: A strategy for the Holy Heart Basilica of Koekelberg, Brussels (BE)

Shaping the hidden How to get more insight in the process of a design is one of the main questions in this dissertation. How are things made? In architectural presentations or critics we only look at a finished product. The process towards it is mostly hidden. By exposing the process, we can learn more about […]


Vincent Leonard Matzmorr: Unlocking Civic Potential in Ostend (BE): The Europacentrum Case

On Coasting In current multidisciplinary research on coastal regions of the world, the binary understanding between land and sea has gradually been replaced with the notion of a process: Coasting. “Coasting is something, which happens; it is mobile and fluid, responding to changing conditions and balances. Instead of understanding it as a battle for territory […]


Bartlomiej Grzesznik: Inhabiting Liminal Spaces; Learning from Walden 7; Barcelona (ES)

Inhabiting Liminal Spaces; Learning from Walden 7; Studies; Spatial reflections in the context of architecture and digital media based on the studies of Walden 7. The influence of visual culture, which is an inseparable element of digital media, has a significant impact on society’s perception of the real world. Living in times when we are […]


Ying zhao: On the Making of Home; In search of meaningful space

On the Making of Home is a designerly exploration under the realm of phenomenology of architecture, and specifically based the work of Gaston Bacherlard of his book The Poetics of Space. The design-led research revolves around the concept of “image”, a pure production of imagination as Gaston defined. The concept of image is meaningful to architects as […]


Orçun Yazıcı: Redefining Boundaries; Democratic Space in Trabzon (TR)

Trabzon is a coastal city on the banks of the Black Sea in Turkey. Squeezed between the mountains and the sea, there is an old mosque overlooking the horizon: the Trabzon Hagia Sopia… The aim of Redefining Boundaries is to discuss the role of democratic space in contemporary Trabzon. The idea is to develop a […]