ARKX35 Masters’ thesis direction, Urban Challenges
“The city of the future is a place where the fragments of something once broken are recomposed”
– Aldo Rossi
Description and aim
The Master’s Thesis Direction 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 our
projects we do not work with predetermined scales, but with all of them and with different
definitions of what scale might mean. The Urban Challenges line fosters a transdisciplinary
perspective, as the only way to solve complex issues. This makes our thesis direction a
platform that encourages the diversity of looks and approaches to bring new answers to the sphere of Public Realm. Also advanced and original in terms of design.
This thesis direction combines processes of sustainability with design and artistic practice. We work from the understanding of the specific context and by integrating the different parts of the built environment in a cohesive and reflective way. The architectural proposal is seen as an articulation of this knowledge in a reflective, holistic and artistic way.
Method and process
This direction 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 an 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. Drawings and model making are main research tool in our Master Thesis direction. We also ask the students to start working in early stages with the elaboration of both a written and a graphical manifesto as vehicles of project articulation throughout the thesis process (including prep.-course and thesis course).
Empirical and speculative, however strongly motivated, ways of exploring theoretical concepts through design are therefore expected as a necessary strength in the development of the work.
This thesis direction combines approaches, teachings and experiences from different masters’ studios: Architecture and Urban Space Design, Public Buildings and Dare to Build, since all of them share the belief of transdisciplinary as a way to develop the understanding and design of the urban physical space. That means exploring the field in between landscape architecture, infrastructures and Building Design, in its multiple scales and their impact and implications in terms of cultural and social aspects.
Image: Eva-Lotta Holby (2018). “A PATH INTO THE SEA” (Master’s Thesis)
Specific evaluation criteria
- Contemporary and relevant urban aspects and questions,
- Relevance and motivation of contextual integration,
- Sustainable discourse; properly situated within the field,
- Coherence between initial thesis questions, thesis process, and final result,
- Use of (written and graphical) manifestos as discourse statement and design contextualization,
- Quality of the visual and graphic material in how it properly explains the complexity of the work in a concise synthesis and as the ground for all work and presentations.
Specific submission requirements
There is a constant focus on the posters and drawings as the main medium and format for the graphical communication of the thesis process and all the work produced. The Project Plan, at the end of the preparatory course has to be composed and synthesized in a poster format, as an explorative exercise of communication.
Image: Zahra Rezaei (2020). “CONVIVO- a strategy or fairy tale” (Master’s Thesis)
Literature and references
We do not work with recipes. With this we mean that we don’t have a set of pre-assumed references (literature or projects) for our students.
Along the development process of each thesis project, the students receive constantly the adequate references of literature and projects. The wide variety of such references often cross disciplines and fields of knowledge.
Some of our approaches in terms of design process, from graphics to models exploration are related to the following books and references.
• Allen, Stan (2011) Landform building: architecture's new terrain, Lars Müller Publishers,
• Corner, James (1996). Taking Measures Across the American Landscape. Yale University Press, cop.
• Jauslin, Daniel (2015). Infrastructure as Landscape as Architecture. Research in Urbanism series, vol3 TUDelft
• Pinto de Freitas, Rita (2011) Hybrid Architecture_Object, Landscape, Infrastructure, EFLA Regional Congress of Landscape Architecture. Tallin
• Smouth, Mark (2007). Augmented landscapes. New York: Princeton Architectural Publishers, cop.
Image: Vera Matsdotter (2020). “DOWN to EARTH- rammed earth techniques in a Nordic Urban context” (Master’s Thesis)
Exemplary thesis projects from Urban Challenges 2016~2020:
• 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.
• 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
Blurred Boundaries; exploring the notion of loose urban spaces as a recreational place
• Qianqian Yu (2019)
Urban Strolls - [A reflection on pedestrians situation in heavy traffic urban space]
• Nour Fansa (2019)
“Exploring the integration of nature and built environment”
• Victoria McCrea (2019)
Språkitecture, Playing in a New Language
• Vera Matsdotter (2020)
Down to Earth: Exploring the use of excavated earth material from Västlänken.
• Carl Jarneving (2020)
“Infrastructure in transformation: a spatial study on the values of obsolete mobility
• Jan Dankmeyer (2020)
”Playable Adaptivity, how to educate the designers of tomorrow for a resilient urban future”:
• Henrik Wrennö (2020)
”Re-live the River – Regenerating decaying blue ecosystems through Architecture”:
• Lisa Weiss (2020)
“Gränsland: Infrastructure for ecoturism in a northern landscape”
• Yunfan Zhang (2020)
“Healing in The Third Place: Exlporing A Life-Enhancing Method from Spatial and Social
Aspects for People Stressed in Daily Life“
Image: Paulina Oldin (2019). “BLURRED BOUNDARIES; exploring the notion of loose urban spaces as a recreational place” (Master’s Thesis)
Joaquim Tarrasó, lecturer, supervisor and examiner
Emilio Brandao, artistic teacher, supervisor
Kengo Skorick, artistic senior lecturer