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The Big Hole - The Urban Pit

2021-22, sem 2
Campus Sint-Lucas Gent
Tutors: Lars Fischer
Engagement: Mediating Tactics

The Big Hole refers to specific landscapes of excavation, addressing both the actual void left in the earth’s crust as well as the loss of meaning in the term sustainability. How we talk about and communicate sustainability sets up specific expectations of how we deal with it.

This studio will discuss and establish an aesthetics of ecology as a means to communicate a concept of what the contemporary relation of architecture and environment actually is and could potentially be.

Zooming in on sites of excavation for new constructions and the remnant pits of buildings long demolished we take the urban construction pit as a location to explore architecture’s relation to the ground it stands on and the foundations that anchor it.

The lifeless crystalline-mineral quality that characterizes the foundation wall makes it a formal manifestation of stone construction; its nature corresponds completely to what is placed on top of it.
Gottfried Semper

Taking Semper’s quote as a point of departure of how architecture’s foundation walls were historically understood as inert and determined by architecture the studio will investigate reversing the relationship by viewing the foundation and the ground not as inanimate but something that has a history and a presence. If the ground has an agency of its own, it can in turn give description to the architecture it supports. By focussing on the ground and the materiality of the foundation wall, a new architectural project will be developed through means of observation, documentation, analysis and ultimately representation that seeks to inform architecture through the global historical processes that shape our environment.

This studio approaches the question of architecture and ecology beyond a technical narrowing of the topic. It considers this question rather from a cultural perspective and examines design, organizational and material processes as well as their connection to specific forms of life. It concerns the interplay of various design tasks, including those relating to building materials and construction, going beyond the primarily visual, and connecting with the domain of sensual experiences and bodily practices, as well as the social and the societal.

Read more: assignment file MA COURSE_maig24 (pdf)

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