< terug

The Architect Changemaker

Tutor(s)  Wes Degreef, BC team 
Campus BXL 
Language EN 
Engagement   Craftsmanship 
Semester 2 


Description of the studio: 

The pre-industrialized idea of the master builder may just reemerge in the context of circular building materials and techniques. It embodies the notion of an integrative method of architecture, rooted in regional context, regional resources, and regional workmanship. We look back at the time where the professional architect wore many hats; generalist, facilitator and master builder within the wider scope of the built environment. By continuing this way of working awareness of how design may affect bigger networks and flow patterns will emerge. To begin the architect needs to study and comprehend how materials and construction flows affect design. Through the iterative process of prototyping and testing at different scales, we can expand our knowledge. 

The building process will get significant attention as a powerful tool for social involvement, material research, and climate change mitigation. We frequently refer to the act of building when defining the construction process because it refers to the extensive effort made by a community to create infrastructure using a variety of materials, technologies, and skill sets. Design and build has the ability to transform via action, narrative, and outcome.  With the help of this studio, a fresh approach to the creation, building, and utilization of infrastructure and (human) resources can surface. The student is therefore guided to understand architecture as a profession in a more cohesive manner. The design and build of a small cabin gives students the ideal platform to engage in all parts of the building process from design to realisation. 

Focus Spring 2024 Design & Action  group of 2 students 

ACT III. site 

Diving deep into the nature reserve site of Viroinval, students will create a masterplan mapping the surrounding ecology and existing structures/foundations to propose a specific location for a modest cabin that can accommodate 4 people. Once again, the functional dimensions of the cabin will be determined by ability to construct, through volume, weight and assemblage. Proposals will include off-grid self-sustaining systems for the cabin and a resource map of local materials sourced for the project. 

Volume – transportable in one truck load (standard shipping container) 

Weight – buildability with simple tools and labour 

Assemble – demountable for future lifecycles of materials/folly 

Cabin prototype by Gram Å, KADK © Sheila Moeller

ACT IV. construction  

The final act will involve preparing the cabin for construction through detailed drawings and a 1:20 scale model. One of the cabin designs will be selected after final presentations to be built on site through a summer workshop elective. The goal of the design is to develop the project in detail including full documentation, materials list, budget, lifecycle/post life process and building methodology so that the cabin design is ready to be built, prototyping one project at full-scale.  

We want to draw inspiration and knowledge from traditional methods and workmanship as we see social and ecological value in the process. 

1 to 2 scale model

Expected output: 

objectives: action and design 

Act III: site 

3.1. masterplan 

3.2. plans & sections  

3.3. off-grid system proposal 

3.4. material map 


Act IV: construction 

4.1. construction process drawings 

4.2. lifecycle & post life use/disassemble 

4.3. drawing documentation: plans, sections, details 

4.4. scale model 1:20 


Excursion/study trip/…? (+ timing): 

(timing is approximate and may be subject to change) 

Week 1   

  • Morning: Site visit to Viroinval –  project introduction by BC & client: site, ideas, aspirations.  
  • Afternoon: Entre-Sambre-et-Meuse region to present about the national park, insights into motivations behind the park, local ecology and natural landscape (TBC)

Week 2  

  • Site visit to local bio-regional prototype, the self-sufficient Woodstock project

Between weeks 8-12 (dates TBC) –  

Woodstock roof prototype diagram

  • workshop prototyping: 1:20 model development @ BC architects & studies & materials

19/02/24 workshop introduction @ BC architects & studies & materials 

22/02/24 – group fieldtrip to Viroinval site 

Cabin prototype by Gram Å, KADK © Sheila Moeller

References/Further reading:  

  1. Material Cultures. Material Reform: Building for a Post-Carbon Future 
  2. Beyond Concrete. Strategies for a post-fossil Baukultur. 2022  
  3. BUK ETHZ: Construction. Birkhäuser. 2021 
  4. Manual of Natural Stone. Modern usage of a classic building material. Edition DETAIL. 
  5. Reuse in Construction. A Compendium of Circular Architecture. 2022 
  6. CULTIVATED BUILDING MATERIALS, Industrialized Natural Resources for Architecture and Construction, Birkhäuser Basel, 2017 
  7. Constructing Architecture material processes Fifth REVISED edition 2022 /Andrea Deplazes & Gerd H. Söffker / Birkhäuser, Basel, 2022 
  8. Circular Constrcution and Circular Economy, Felix Heisel, Dirk E. Hebel with Ken Webster, Birkhäuser 2022