building facades
​Thesis work by Per Hultcrantz, Myrra Lindholm, and Maria Lagging​​

Matter Space Structure

ACEX35, Masters’ thesis direction, 2020/2021

Description and aim​

Matter Space Structure (MSS) understands architecture as a cultural practice. Architecture has the ability to transform urban culture and shape relations between individuals, collectives, objects, and environments in ways that go beyond mere problem solving. It does so through physical intervention as well as through the production of effects and desires. In addition, the practice and discipline of architecture can be understood as a culture in itself – as the result of a combination of buildings, discourse, technology, and media. By engaging aesthetical, practical, as well as theoretical concerns, an MSS thesis project should be able to contribute to both these aspects of architecture as culture.

MSS recognizes that architectural design currently operates under the influence of constant flows of information and materials. The world is characterized by an excess of images and statements, as well as by an excess of buildings and objects. An important part of design today is to be able to sift through these flows against an evolving professional and disciplinary horizon. This requires an opportunistic mindset in which existing entities and ideas are selectively appropriated and transformed for the purposes of design and research. It requires the ability to form ideas and entities into characters and narratives that enter into conversation with the city and its inhabitants.

As means to productively engage in this condition, MSS will draw from an expansive field of approaches and techniques. We will explore how design can depart from an existing stock of buildings, materials or found forms in order to address a context. We will experiment with technologies such as scanning that allows us to capture, represent, and transform aspects of real entities and environments. We will interrogate the role that images and objects play in contemporary architecture. These and many other issues will be explored creatively and critically. While we will be looking to ‘improve’ practice, we will in addition take an interest in the by-products and unintentional effects that for example construction and design technologies can produce.

Ultimately, MSS is invested in bringing these agendas to fruition though the design of buildings, spaces, and structures. Synthesizing external influences and expertise through design becomes a way to integrate them into the practice and discipline of architecture.

Method and process

Matter Space Structure is aligned with a design research approach. This means that thesis projects are developed through a constant interplay between design and intellection, between developing sensual and critical aspects of the work. For example, the questions raised in the thesis may spring from design work under development, as well as from reasoning that depart from traditional scholarship. 

Work during the thesis will be developed iteratively. Drawings, models, mock-ups, text, and other types of media will be initiated and continuously revised. Emphasis is on working through re-presentation, on transfers between media such as object and image, or virtual and actual. 

Work developed during the thesis will be layouted into an evolving thesis booklet. This involves the continuous documentation, formatting, annotation, and curation of material produced. Information becomes diagrams, sketches are scanned, models photographed, analysis is concluded, references to work or readings are reformulated and turned into arguments, conclusions are formed, etc.

Specific evaluation criteria

In addition to the common evaluation criteria defined for the master’s thesis at Chalmers School of Architecture, Matter Space Structure places special emphasis on
the following aspects:
Ability to synthesize a research agenda into a design project.
Ability to integrate design, discourse, and research into a comprehensive argument.
Ability to use techniques for representation, technologies, and/or materials to uncover new ideas, methods, or ways to practice architecture.​

Specific submission requirements

Students submit their work for review during the thesis semester as follows. Seminars below will involve verbal presentations of boards, models, etc., as well as submission of an updated thesis booklet. A detailed set of requirements and guidelines for each seminar will be handed out at the beginning of the thesis semester.

Project plan seminar, beginning of semester
Representations workshop, 1st week of semester
Interim seminar 1, ¼ of semester
Mid-term seminar, ½ of semester
Interim seminar 2, ¾ of semester
Final seminar, end of semester
Open seminar, end of semester.
Final submission, after end of semester​

Suggested literature and projects

This is list provides a rough outline of the direction. Further literature, projects, and other references will be developed in relation to each project and in dialogue with each student. Many of the items below contain presentations of and references to projects and practices.​

  • Allen, Laura, and Luke Pearson, eds. 2016. Drawing Futures: Speculations in Contemporary Drawing for Art and Architecture. London: UCL Press.
  • Bair, Kelly, Kristy Balliet, Adam Fure, and Kyle Miller, eds. 2018. Possible Mediums. Barcelona: Actar.
  • Baker-Brown, Duncan. 2017. The Re-Use Atlas: A Designers Guide Towards a Circular Economy. London: RIBA Publishing.
  • Borasi, Giovanna, Maarten Gielen, and Konstantinos Pantazis. 2018. ”Specifying from a Broader Catalogue.” Canadian Centre for Architecture. a-broader-catalogue.
  • Bourriaud, Nicholas. 2002. “The Use of Objects”. In Postproduction. New York: Lukas & Sternberg.
  • Cairns, Stephen, and Jane M. Jacobs. 2014. Buildings Must Die: A Perverse View of Architecture. Cambridge: MIT Press.
  • Hicks, Stewart, and Allison Newmeyer, eds. MAS Context 32: Character
  • Iturbe, Elisa, ed. 2019. Log 47: Overcoming Carbon Form.
  • Jacob, Sam. 2018. “The Great Roe.” In Lineament: Material, Representation and the Physical Figure in Architectural Production, 177-184. Oxon: Routledge.
  • Kinney, Dale, and Richard Brilliant, eds. 2011. Reuse Value: Spolia and Appropriation in Art and Architecture from Constantine to Sherrie Levine. Ashgate Publishing.
  • May, John. 2019. Signal. Image. Architecture. Columbia Books on Architecture and the City.
  • Miljacki, Ana, and Irene Wang, eds. 2014. Under the Influence. Cambridge: SA+P Press, MIT.
  • Smith, Maria, Matthew Dalziel, Phineas Harper, and Cecilie Sachs Olsen, curators. 2019. “Enough: The Architecture of Degrowth.” The 2019 Oslo Architecture Triennale.​.​

Exemplary thesis projects

Olof Duus
A New Alphabet: Casting a Catalogue of Possible Form

Markus Gustafsson
Craftmanship by machinery

Erik Hadin and Emily-Claire Nordang
Plastic Island: Three Structures based on Transformed Ocean Plastic

Clara Havström
Scenic Semi-Public Space – a Saunterologic Strategy

Per Hultcrantz
Strange Identities: A Swedish Embassy Designed Through Form–Driven Contextualism

Maria Lagging
To Transcend the Tide: Transitions in Architecture and Nature

Myrra Lindholm
This is Awkward: Architectural Glitching, Ambiguity, and the Attack on Perfection

Egil Lundqvist
Encounter and Assemblage: Design Through Contingency

Sara V Olsson
An Act of Accumulation: A Wunderkammer in Lorensberg

Victoria Plate
Space Frame Mania
Danni Tian
Internal Depth: Practice of Drawing Architecture towards Entanglement of Matter and Meaning​

Direction faculty​

Daniel Norell, examiner and supervisor
Naima Callenberg, supervisor
Jonas Carlson, supervisor
Peter Christensen, supervisor
Jens Olsson,supervisor

Published: Wed 30 Sep 2020.