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Supervisor(s)  Michiel Helbig, Corneel Cannaerts 
(BXL/Ghent)  Ghent 
Language EN 
Studio or individual?   Individual 
If individual: max number of students?  6 


Description of the project: 

Fieldstation Studio  (https://fieldstationstudio.org/) is a speculative architectural design studio run by Michiel Helbig and Corneel Cannaerts, it is a node in the international fieldstations network, exploring architecture in relation with contemporary fields, connected to the anthropocene and technosphere. We are organised as an academic design office, combining teaching, academic research and artistic practice.  The studio is based at KU Leuven Faculty of Artchitecture, but has taught studios and workshops internationally, at the bpro Master program of the Bartlett School of Architecture University College London and the Advanced Architectural Design program at GSAPP Columbia University New York. The studio focuses on the agency of emerging technologies and phenomena, and their impact on the culture and practice of architecture and the environment in which we operate as architects. We propose an explorative architectural design studio, aiming to investigate the potential of architecture as a medium to disrupt, explore and raise questions, rather than solving them. The academic design office combines explorative research with hands-on architectural design exercises, field trips and workshops. 

The built reality is only one layer that makes up the environments we inhabit, it is influenced by other material and immaterial layers, and it contributes to larger economic, material, environmental, informational and infrastructural systems. Within the Field Station Studio we see this expanded field, this constantly changing, layered, hybrid and compressed environment as the context that architecture operates in and actively engages with. We are particularly interested in the proliferation of digital technologies within the environment and the media ecologies resulting from them.  We think that architects should proactively engage the complex reality of today rather than passively wait for design briefs and projects. Field Station Studio trains students in taking positions within contemporary fields and provides them with a platform for developing their future practice. Our weapons of choice are design fiction, spatial narratives, speculative media, imagineering, hacking and critical making. 

post- Last academic year, Fieldstation Studio has completed the three+one year as an academic design office. After the two trilogies (Automation, Platforms, Archives and Hacking the Expanded Field, Shifting Borders, Luxury and Precarity), we started a new trilogy exploring topics that share the prefix post.  Rather than a post-mortem of the research teaching an practice of the academic design office, the trilogy aims to further explore the impact of digitalisation on architectural practice and culture, and the environments in which we operate: What remains of architecture when its human centred, foundational dichotomies have been eradicated by the ongoing political, cultural and environmental crises? How do we position ourselves as a discipline in world that is inherently volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous, contingent and dynamic? How do we change our habitual modes of modes of operation and practicing as a profession in response to the multitude of challenges? How do we adapt architectural culture to this new normal?   

The central concern of this trilogy is the post-digital condition,  Florian Cramer defines the post-digital not as the absence of the digital but a “contemporary disenchantment with digital information systems and media gadgets, or a period in which our fascination with these systems and gadgets has become historical.” The prefix post here should not be read as in post-modernism or post-history, but as in post-feminist, post-punk or even post-apocalyptic: “The state of affairs after the initial upheaval caused by the computerisation and global digital networking of communication, technical infrastructures, markets and geopolitics.” Questioning the colloquial meaning of the digital, he unpacks several, sometimes conflicting dimensions of the term. It is both a rejection of the sterile and seamless aesthetic associated with corporate high tech – like advertisement and slick interfaces – and the low-quality trash of compressed digital media – like clip art and mp3s. In artistic and design practices post-digital attitudes have resulted in several approaches: embracing and exaggerating the aspects of the digital, as in glitch art or post internet art; deliberately mixing and hybridising digital and analogue media; opening up the black box of technology through hacking, revealing their inner workings, or abusing digital technologies beyond their intended purposes.  In addition to the pos-digital, the that will come after the prefix are still an open question, but might include: -digital, -orthographic, -disciplinary, -capitalist, -academic, -human, -anthropocene, -millennial, -radical, -material, -organic, -carbon, -anthropogenic, -scarcity, -experiential, -experimental, -speculative, -cinematic, -narrative, -collective, -postdoctoral. 

Expected output: 

We invite students to develop an in individual master dissertation project, situated with this post-digital condition, we provide a platform for students to develop their own interests, skills and projects. The topic pf the dissertation is open within the proposed context, as is the  choice of media, and nature of the dissertation is are consistent with the chosen topic. The first semester is used to define a framework for the projects, develop the necessary skills, and define the project brief, and runs in parallel with the studio in the first master.  The second semester focuses on the dissertation project itself, we regularly invite guests and former students to critique and guide the work. Students need to have excellent design skills and have an interest in the critical and practical application of digital technologies in architectural design. Students get access to several tools and tutorials developed with the Academic Design Office.  Prior knowledge of technologies, certain techniques or software is not necessary to participate, but we will to explore them critically is. 

An overview of past master dissertations can be found here: 

Study trip 

In week 7 of the first semester we organize a fieldtrip with Fieldstation Studio in the first master and the master dissertation students, location is to be determined, in the past we went to Berlin, London, Rotterdam, Amsterdam, New York… depending on ongoing activities and opportunities.  


References/Further reading:  

Bollmer, G. (2019). Materialist media theory: An introduction. Bloomsbury Academic. 

Bridle, J. (2018). New dark age: Technology, knowledge and the end of the future. Verso. 

Carpo, M. (2011). The alphabet and the algorithm. MIT Press. 

Carpo, M. (2018). Post-Digital “Quitters”: Why the Shift Toward Collage Is Worrying. Metropolis Mag March 26, 2018, https://metropolismag.com/viewpoints/post-digital-collage/. 

Cramer, F. (2015). What Is ‘Post-digital’? In D. M. Berry & M. Dieter (Eds.), Postdigital Aesthetics (pp. 12–26). Palgrave Macmillan UK. https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137437204_2 

Fuller, M., & Malina, R. F. (2005). Media ecologies: Materialist energies in art and technoculture. MIT Press. 

Jacob, S. (2017). Architecture Enters the Age of Post-Digital Drawing. Metropolis Mag March 21, 2017 https://metropolismag.com/projects/architecture-enters-age-post-digital-drawing/ 

Marble, S. (2018). Everything That Can Be Measured Will Be Measured. Technology|Architecture + Design, 2(2), 127–129. https://doi.org/10.1080/24751448.2018.1497355 

Manovich, L. (2013). Software takes command: Extending the language of new media. Bloomsbury. 

Mattern, S. (2016) Cloud and Field, On the resurgence of “field guides” in a networked age. Places journal, August 2016 

Mattern, S. (2017). Code and Clay, Data and Dirt: Five Thousand Years of Urban Media. University of Minnesota Press. https://doi.org/10.5749/j.ctt1pwt6rn 

May, J. (2019). Signal. image. architecture: Everything is already an image. Columbia Books on Architecture and the City. 

McCullough, M. (2004). Digital ground: Architecture, pervasive computing, and environmental knowing. MIT Press. 

McCullough, M. (2013). Ambient commons: Attention in the age of embodied information. The MIT Press. 

McLuhan, M. (1964). Understanding media: The extensions of man. Routledge. 

Mitchell, W. J. (1992). The reconfigured eye: Visual truth in the post-photographic era. MIT Press. 

Offenhuber, D., & Ratti, C. (Eds.). (2014). Decoding the city: Urbanism in the age of big data. Birkhauser Verlag. 

Parikka, J. (2016). A slow, contemporary violence: Damaged environments of technological culture. Sternberg press. 

Runting, H., Torrison, F. & Siege, E. (eds). Lo-Res: Architectural Theory, Politics, and Criticism, ISSN 2002-0260, Vol. 1: High-Rise, 2015. 

Taffel, S. (2016). Perspectives on the postdigital: Beyond rhetorics of progress and novelty. Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, 22(3), 324–338. https://doi.org/10.1177/1354856514567827 

Taffel, S. (2019). Digital media ecologies: Entanglements of content, code and hardware. Bloomsbury Academic. 

Young, L. (Ed.). (2019). Machine landscapes: Architectures of the Post-Anthropocene. John Wiley & Sons. 

Young, L. & Unknown Fields, (Eds.). (2016). Tales from the Dark Side of the City. AA Publications. 

Weizman, E. (2017). Forensic architecture: Violence at the threshold of detectability. Zone Books. 


Image: Animated .gif of previous master dissertations, Fieldstation Studio 2023