Public buildings serve everybody. They orchestrate massive amounts and interactions of people, equipment, and activities making them big, complex, vibrant social condensers. Architecture at this scale, or what Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas referred to as "Bigness", turns everything human-scale into forms or fields that comprise a large composition like shapes and textures of a painting. The larger, busier, and more diverse the activities are, the richer the overall design becomes. Public architecture thrives on the complexity of what it's made of.
The Public Buildings Studio examines the potential of public buildings and its entanglement of public life, civic identity, technology, and large-scale construction. It encompasses a condensed full architectural project, which includes research, experimentation, prototyping, technical coordination, details, dissertation, exhibition, and representations (drawings, models, diagrams, writing) substituting construction. Each student will design a large-scale, typologically- and programmatically- mixed public building in Gothenburg as an expansion to one or several existing buildings and their programs.
Half the world lives in urban areas today and is expected to rise to another quarter to 75% by 2050. With the building industry accounting for 40% of the global greenhouse gas emissions, increasing development pressure comes with increasing ecological pressure.
Meanwhile in Gothenburg the population is expected to double by 2035 to 1.75 million. In response it will bulk up through the private sector investing 100 billion € for 5 million m² of commercial & residential properties by then. Though marketing images illustrate rich, vibrant depictions of the public life, the public domain will be predominantly exteriorized and unprogrammed in nature. Will the the public domain strive on private development leftover spaces alone? Don’t we simply need more public buildings in the urban centers like libraries, culture houses, media centers, sports halls, transportation hubs, or theaters? Or will public buildings be substituted by more shops, foyers, and commercial program which eventually evolve into large-scale public-like private institutions? Or perhaps this is the city’s biomarker indicating the need to fundamentally rethink public buildings as becoming poly-programmatic poly-typological hybrid types?
Since the city must focus on the opportunities that straight-forward private developments create, our studio will focus on the opportunities that risky but smart hybrid developments create.
The studio structure loosely mimics the design phases of a complete architectural project in practice, but the construction phase being replaced by a public exhibition at the Världskulturmuseet in June. There are 4 design 4-week phases called concept design (prototyping), developed design (technical coordination), technical design (detail and refinement), and dissertation exhibition (project completion). Each phase starts with an intensive group learning activity, then 3 weeks of design tasks with tutorials, and ends with a review and submissions.
The intensive group learning activities are a theory and technique workshop, technical consultation, a public buildings symposium, a study trip to Rotterdam and TU Delft, and a public exhibition. The focused design tasks are manageable studies of various aspects of the final project following a sequence which builds up complexity. The submissions are a design report, a technical report, a dissertation, and exhibition material. The reviews are 2 interim reviews, a midterm review with critics, and a final review with critics. Students will work individually and in groups of 2-4 students.
Theoretical lectures problematize certain aspects of discourse for students to develop individual concepts. Technical lectures demonstrate and explain use of analog (large-scale wood or foam-cut models) or digital tools (Rhino, Grasshopper, Photogrammetry, VR, digital fabrication) and specific workflows. Technical consultation problematizes certain aspects of the prototype to technically develop in-depth during the second quarter. The symposium is an public discussion at the Världskulturmuseet about the future of public buildings in Gothenburg. The study trip will include visits to important locations, buildings, and exhibitions corresponding to the coursework, public buildings and general architecture. The public exhibition material is the last submission and an opportunity to disseminate work to the public.