ARKX35 Masters’ thesis direction, 2018/2019
“It started to go wrong quite early, my relationship with Architecture”
– Jeremy Till, in Architecture Depends.
“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 these studies 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, also advanced and original in terms of design.
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 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, and through the elaboration of a written and a graphical manifestos that will be the support of the work throughout the thesis (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. The learning framework is comprised of weekly discussions, workshops, tutorials and quarterly reviews with the entire Urban Challenges direction.
Alignment: This thesis direction combines approaches, teachings and experiences from 3 different masters’ studios: Architecture and Urban Space Design, Design and Planning for Social Inclusion and Reality Studio.
Fields of work: Every thesis in this direction involves one or more of the following fields within Urban Challenges, as a core practical and deontological context:
- Transdisciplinary Urban Landscapes: in a transdisciplinary way to develop the understanding and design of the urban physical space as a whole, that means exploring the field in between landscape architecture, infrastructures and Building Design, and their impact and implications in terms of cultural and social aspects.
- Spatial Agency: other – more critical, non-normative, radical, collaborative, interventive – ways of thinking and doing architecture and understanding the role of the professional and disciplinary agency in a broader design discourse and practice.
- Development Questions: local/international, co-creation and participatory processes, social aspects of architecture and sustainability, human rights, urban justice, equal resource distribution, urban poverty, etc.
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 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 by mentioned topics
Transdisciplinary Urban Landscapes
• 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.
• Awan, N., Schneider, T., & Till, J. (2013). Spatial agency: other ways of doing architecture. Routledge.
• Petrescu, Doina; Trogal, Kim (2017). The Social (Re)Production of Architecture. London, Routledge
• Till, Jeremy (2009). Architecture Depends. MIT Press
• Architecture sans frontières International (2012). Challenging Practice: Essentials for the Social Production of Habitat.
Retrieved from https://challengingpractice.org/
• Hamdi, Nabeel (2004). Small Change. About the art of practice and the limits of planning in cities. New York: Earthscan
• Sinclair, C., & Stohr, K. (2006). Design like you give a damn. Architectural Response to Humanitarian Crisis. London, Thames & Hudson Ltd.
Exemplary thesis projects from Urban Challenges 2016~2019:
• 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
• Jorge Ahumada (2019) Just Spaces: A study of a public space in Mexico City to apply the just city research in designing public spaces
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]
• Victoria McCrea (2019)
Språkitecture, Playing in a New Language
Supervision & Examination:
Emilio Brandao, artistic teacher
Joaquim Tarrasó, artistic senior lecturer
Kengo Skorick, artistic senior lecturer
Marco Adelfio, researcher and teacher
Shea Hagy, project manager and teacher