80 608 Re-Store: Maintenance

Prerequisites

Det kreves ingen forkunnskaper utover opptakskrav i studieprogrammet.

Course content

Re-Store: Maintenance
In the 1984 film …men Olsenbanden var ikke død, Edvard Munch’s Scream is stolen and smuggled down the hose of a vacuum cleaner by a thief masquerading as a cleaning lady. She escapes the museum unseen, cloaked by the ordinariness of maintenance.

Society places little value on the status of maintenance work in private, domestic and public space. In Mierle Laderman Ukeles’ Maintenance Manifesto she states “Maintenance is a drag: it takes all the fucking time. The mind boggles and chafes at the boredom.” Laderman Ukeles, a feminist, an artist and housewife equates the daily activities of maintenance, from the domestic to the urban scale, with her artistic endeavor.

This year the Re-Store studio will seek to understand maintenance as a key form of preservation and preservation as an act of maintenance. The unassuming banality of maintenance systems allows them to surreptitiously become destructive and constructive acts of preservation. We will explore the impact of acts of maintenance as they transcend the preservation of cities, buildings and objects.

Cities
“Two basic systems: Development and Maintenance. The sourball of every revolution: after the revolution, who’s going to pick up the garbage on Monday morning?”
Mierle Laderman Ukeles, Maintenance Manifesto

We will explore maintenance as inherently revolutionary and fundamental to social order, and how it provokes us to challenge existing structures, physical or political, and to question their adequacy. Without maintenance, changing policies, evolving building codes and developing technology, architecture quickly becomes obsolete.

Taking the Munchmuseet as a case study, we shall respond to the long-term research project City of Dislocation, which was recently conducted for Oslo Pilot. The project identifies that within the next few years, the government’s policy of centralization will affect more than twenty of Oslo’s biggest institutions, each abandoning their purpose-built headquarters, either because of relocation or closure. A driving factor of this restructuring is a consensus that these buildings no longer perform adequately. This process will generate a network of voids and empty buildings in every neighborhood of the city.

The Munchmuseet is one of these empty voids. Located in the residential area of Tøyen, it is one of the institutions soon to be relocated. The museum was built in the multicultural working class neighborhood of east Oslo in 1963 as part of an urban strategy to distribute cultural institutions throughout the city. The building was built to maintain and preserve Munch’s collection but has been deemed no longer fit for purpose and will be left vacant in need of new inhabitation. If retained by the city, do these vacant sites risk dilapidation, their maintenance too costly for the municipality? Will we see a continuing trend towards the commercialization of the built environment as heritage sites are sold to the highest bidder? The key question is how to dismantle a cultural object during times of change - a hitherto unexplored aspect of Oslo’s development.

Buildings
Maintenance facilitates inhabitation by keeping the necessary standard for a building’s intended use. Strategies for re-use and recycling of construction materials are being written into building and planning codes. Parallel to these developments, the deferment of maintenance accelerates the deterioration of buildings. Similarly, strategies of planned obsolescence are reducing building life spans at an alarming pace.

We will challenge the fetishisation of the Munchmuseet as a ‘complete architectural object’ by exploring it as an ensemble of fragments embodied with their own meaning. By tracing the patterns of use from the residues of human occupation, students will develop an understanding of what has been used and how. This work will grow out of the translations between observing, drawing and making - to discover possibilities in what already exists. As Bruno Latour said, ‘there is no such thing as design today, there is only re-design.’

Objects
The creation of Munch’s paintings took place using materials prone to deterioration. This has resulted in the continual reassessment of their condition, requiring conservators to make frequent value judgments on the scope of preservation. The studio will celebrate the everyday acts of cleaning, washing, mending, adapting, reusing, recycling and preserving embodied in the scale of the object. By starting with the object of the painting, students will chart the constellation of objects that maintain it, and by extension the building that frames it. The scale of architecture comes out of the scale of the object – and just as the museum was designed to house one painting, embedded in its material details is an expression of the tools that maintain it.

Learning outcomes

Through the prism of maintenance systems, the studio will provide a foundation to critically evaluate different ways of approaching the re-use and transformation of existing structures at varying scales. Students will accrue knowledge on how to formulate individual architectural proposals based on close observation and analysis of present conditions. Actively working with current issues affecting Oslo will provide in-depth insights into the ongoing public discourse around the preservation of some of the city’s most important historical sites.

The studio will provide specific knowledge on the history and techniques of preservation.

Working and learning activities

The studio will be divided into two stages. The first will use the ‘catalogue’ as a record of the surprising layers of maintenance systems that are employed within the Munchmuseet. Students will collaboratively amass an index of the relevant elements of the building through a variety of techniques of measurement, surveying and recording. Qualitative judgements will be suspended whilst we accumulate quantitative research. The catalogue will define the parameters of maintenance to include urban planning, procurement process, design specifications, maintenance regimes and the physical performance of maintenance itself.

During the second and most extensive phase, students will use these ingredients to form the basis of individual design proposals for the future inhabitation of the Munchmuseet. These architectural interventions will negotiate the scale of objects, buildings and cities. We will develop proposals for the adaptation and appropriation of the museum, and in doing so, generate a personal system of preservation that can be implemented within the wider context of a developing Oslo.

A series of joint seminars and workshops will be organized in collaboration with the Architectural Association school of Architecture, London.

Professor in charge

Amandine Kastler, Erlend Skjeseth and Andrea Pinochet

Assessment

Assessment Date Duration Grade scale Oral examination
Vurderingsmappe Individual Pass / Fail
Comment:

The studio will be evaluated by submitting assignments and participation, judged as “passed” or “not passed” (according to AHO regulations for master studies).