Kika, Anna (2016). “SAIL IN MOTION – Transformation of a public space for an adaptive reuse” (Master’s Thesis)

Urban Challenges

ARKX35 Masters’ thesis direction, 2018/2019

"It is better to follow the requirements of the place than of the time" (Gunnar Asplund)

Description and aim

The Master’s Thesis track Urban Challenges starts with the intention of establishing a common study platform between the two Master’s Programmes MPARC and MPDSD, with the purpose of researching and developing projects on those contemporary challenges that the urban environments face, having implications in social, environmental, cultural and economic aspects.

The processes of urbanization affect a diversity of contexts and face all scales of the architectural discipline, from constructive detail to planning. From that point of view in these studies we do not work with predetermined scales, but with all of them. The Urban Challenges line fosters an interdisciplinary perspective, as the only way to solve complex issues. This makes our track a platform that encourages the diversity of looks and approaches to bring new answers, also advanced and original in terms of design.​

Method and process

This track intends to have a strong research by design methodology through a continuous iterative process involving all the inquisitive and explorative tools of the profession. Here, the focus methods are chosen to sustain a continuous analytical and critically reflective process through a continuous design development of an inventive, coherent and integrated proposal. The student is asked to formalize all ideas (theory or practice related) through design from the very beginning of the thesis process. Empirical and speculative, however strongly motivated, ways of exploring theoretical concepts through design are expected as a necessary strength in the development of the work. The learning framework is comprised of weekly discussions, workshops, tutorials and quarterly reviews with the entire Urban Challenges direction.


Because Urban Challenges has a holistic approach to architectural practice, and therefore we assume complexity as a crucial factor in educational development; in order to give better support to our students, from this course we have a structure of work which groups the projects according to typologies:​

Social Architectural Design: Urban design related to social urban sustainability

Møller Nielsen, Andreas (2016). “A PUBLIC HOME – Exploring the architectural typology to support the path out of homelessness” (Master’s Thesis) – the interpretation of place on urban leftovers; discussing the social marginality of the urban space

Social Architectural Design is a thesis sub-direction involved in architecture and urban design within social justice and/or international development context – aiming at approaching and reinventing the architectural design practice by addressing societal based challenges such as inequality, urban segregation or democratic distribution of resources. It aims for students (1) to build upon the theoretical and typological studies developed in the preparatory course material; (2) to use design methodologies to explore broader concepts such as social justice, international development, socially inclusive urban environments; (3) to become experts at handling complex design challenges using theoretical and analytical discourse through the (almost exclusive) use of (both conceptual and concrete) graphical and architectural design communication material.
Coordinator & Supervisor: Emilio Brandao

Urban Landscapes: Working with the relationship between architecture and landscape

Holby, Eva-Lotta (2017). “UNDERTAKEN – A path into the sea” (Master’s Thesis) – the definition of a place in nature with a specific character; the experimental process from physical to technological features

The field of operations of our thesis sub-direction is the interaction between landscape, architecture and urban design. Our challenge as architects is to make compatible the different systems present in the Urban environment, working the physical space as a whole. It aims for students (1) to build upon the Urban Landscapes preparatory course material; (2) explore the creation of new Architectural typologies as result of the integration of systems through the use of design methodologies. (3) to become experts at handling complex urban contexts by the use of an analytic multidisciplinary approach, and design as a tool of synthesis.
Coordinator & Supervisor: Joaquim Tarrasó

Functional Formations: Evolving large-building types for societal gain

Brundin, Erik (2018). “Designing for Interaction” (Master’s Thesis). Proxemics and actor-network theory as interfacial and organizational rules for an information-age public forum in Gothenburg

Functional Formations treats architecture like an evolutionist treats reality: preoccupied with the mechanisms of how physical things and their properties are prompted into existence and earn a right to stay. The more useful, or fit, the higher chance of survival. FF aims to functionally-evolve typological form(ation)s to align with demands of contemporary cultural and societal networks. While nature is a hit-and-miss operation, FF is methodical towards architectural evolution: examine the current fitness of a species (typology), identify unfitness, develop a fit alternative. As fitness describes a condition within a system (parts sustaining a whole), we consider buildings as systems, not objects, specifically three types: interface (part), organization (position), and network (whole). In parallel FF uses computation as a powerful tool to explore broader scientific concepts such as complexity, systems theory, actor-network theory, and emergence.
Coordinator & Supervisor: Kengo Skorick

Specific evaluation criteria

(1) Contemporary urban aspects,
(2) contextual integration,
(3) coherence between initial thesis questions, process, and final result,
(4) visual and graphic material as the ground for all work and presentations.

Specific submission requirements

There is a constant focus on the posters as the main medium and format for the graphical communication of the thesis process and all the work produced. Models as a tool for exploring ideas (theoretical and practical) but also to communicate the exploration process and the conclusions achieved.

Literature and references

Social Architectural Design
• Architecture sans frontières International (2012). Challenging Practice: Essentials for the Social Production of Habitat. Retrieved from
• Awan, N., Schneider, T., & Till, J. (2013). Spatial agency: other ways of doing architectureRoutledge.
• Hamdi, Nabeel (2004). Small Change. About the art of practice and the limits of planning in cities. New York: Earthscan
• Petrescu, Doina; Trogal, Kim (2017). The Social (Re)Production of Architecture. LondonRoutledge
• Sinclair, C., & Stohr, K. (2006). Design like you give a damn. Architectural Response to Humanitarian Crisis. London, Thames & Hudson Ltd.
• Till, Jeremy (2009). Architecture Depends. MIT Press​

Urban Landscape
• Corner, James (1996). Taking Measures Across the American Landscape. Yale University Press, cop.
• Guallart, Vicente (2008). Geologics : geography information architecture. Barcelona: Actar.
• Jauslin, Daniel (2015). Infrastructure as Landscape as Architecture. Research in Urbanism series, vol3 TUDelft
• Smouth, Mark (2007). Augmented landscapes. New York: Princeton Architectural Publishers, cop.

Functional Formations
• Ball, Philip (2016). Patterns in Nature: Why the Natural World Looks the Way It Does. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
• Deleuze, Gilles, and Félix Guattari (1983). A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
• Johnson, Steven (2001). Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software. New York: Scribner.
• Kuma, Kengo (2008). "Anti-Object: The Dissolution and Disintegration of Architecture". AA Words 2. London: AA Publications, 2008.
• Minelli, Alessandro (2009). Forms of Becoming: The Evolutionary Biology of Development. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
• Rowe, Colin, and Fred Koetter (1998). Collage City. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press.
• Waldrop, M. Mitchell (1992). Complexity: The Emerging Science at the Edge of Order and Chaos. New York [etc.]: Simon & Schuster.

Exemplary thesis projects from Urban Challenges 2016~2018:

• Andreas Møller Nielsen (2016)
A Public Home: Exploring the architectural typology to support the path out of homelessness.
• Anna Kika (2016)
Sail In Motion: Transformation of a public space for an adaptive reuse.
• Eva-Lotta Holby (2017)
Undertaken: A path into the sea.
(not available on the online database)
• Emma Svanberg (2017)
Wavy: Off shore power towers.
• Aschyut Siddu (2018)
Education Against All Odds: Liberating learning from the circle of despair and hope.
(not available on the online database)
• Jens Andersson (2018)
Elevatorn 2.0: Architecture that amplify and mitigate the risk of land subsidence and sea level rise
• Ariana Valentina Mendez (2018)
Aqua Ductus: Recovering the Memory of a River and a Aqueduct
• Erik Brundin (2018)
Designing for Interaction: A Youth Interaction Centre in the Central Parts of Gothenburg

Direction faculty

Supervision & Examination:
Emilio Brandao, artistic teacher
Joaquim Tarrasó, artistic senior lecturer
Kengo Skorick, artistic senior lecturer​

Published: Mon 15 Jan 2018. Modified: Thu 13 Sep 2018