80 606 Re-store: Systems

Course content

This is an experimental preservation studio focusing on systems. We will investigate the role systems have played in the history of architecture, explore their technological, social and metaphysical aspects, and apply this knowledge to the contemporary architectural practice.

In large, architecture after 1945 has been constructed of systems: ventilation ducts, curtain walls, elevators, dropped ceilings, technical floors, waste-shafts, heating, plumbing, insulation, moveable walls, alarm and surveillance systems etc. The systems respond to our most basic needs: they help us breath, keep us warm, give us light, keep us safe, get rid of our waste etc. They are more or less invisible, they are mass-produced, they belong to a global marked and they are hardly ever considered to belong to the realm of Architecture. Paradoxically; if you take away the systems, there is very little architecture left.

The discipline of preservation normally considers systems to be a major threat to the integrity of a building. Our buildings are under siege due to gradually stricter building codes by the introduction of ductwork, insulation-systems, heating-systems and accessibility measures etc. Disciplinary boundaries hinder good solutions, and we need to investigate new modes of collaboration between Architects, Engineers, Authorities, clients and others. There is a great demand for new ideas on how to implement new systems in existing buildings, and this studio takes an experimental, multidisiplinary and multifaceted approach to the subject matter. We want to bring systems into the core of the architectural discourse and discuss to what degree systems can be part of the integrity of buildings, how they best can help securing a buildings future, and finally explore the potential systems have as generators for new architecture.

In the beginning of the semester each student will be assigned a system, to explore its technological, social and metaphysical aspects in the search for its architectural potential. The research will be applied to specific buildings cases, and each student will pursue an independent architectural project. The studio encourages the students to pursue diverse approaches, from speculative experiments to concrete investigations. The list of submitted material will take into account the size and the complexity of the buildings and the concept of the student.

There will be a lecture series running through the whole semester on preservation in general and the history of systems in particular; it’s structural and technological properties, and the role they play in contemporary architecture. A number of Norwegian and international guest lecturers, critics and sensors will take part in the studio.

The aim is to produce an exhibition and a catalogue displaying the work from the studio.

Excursion: New York

Learning outcomes

The students will acquire extensive knowledge on the role system play in post war architecture, and learn how to apply this knowledge in an architectural project. The course will give an overall introduction to the theory and history of preservation.

Working and learning activities

Teaching will mainly be through weekly desk-crits and monthly pin-ups in addition to the lecture-series running throughout the whole semester. Studio-meetings will be held on a regular basis for discussions and comments.

Professor in charge

Erik F. Langdalen, Andrea Pinochet

Reading lists / teaching materials

-          Rem Koolhass/La Biennale de Venezia: “Elements of Architecture”, 2014

-          Anne Lacaton et Jean-Philippe Vassal: ” Lacaton & Vassal”, 2009

-          Reyner Banham, The Architcture of the Well-tempered Environment”, 1969

-          Aggregate Architectural History Collaborative, website: http://we-aggregate.org/piece/excerpts-from-goverening-by-design

EFL, 2015-03-24