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40 551 Transformation in Practice: Centralteateret

Full course name in Norwegian Bokmål: 
Transformation in Practice: Centralteateret
Course code: 
40 551
Level of study: 
Teaching semester: 
2022 Autumn
Assessment semester: 
2022 Autumn
Language of instruction: 
Maximum number of students: 
Person in charge
Erlend Skjeseth
Required prerequisite knowledge

Admission to AHO and successful completion of three years bachelor level studies (180 ECTS).

Part of course series: Transformation in Practice

Course content

The studio will work with the transformation of Centralteateret in the centre of Oslo. The theatre is a cultural building of complex provenance, making it an ideal case study for working with existing buildings. The first iteration of Centralteateret dates back to the late 18th century, and the theatre has since gone through several transformations. Unique to Centralteateret, these layers are still visibly intact to reveal the rich history embedded in the building's fabric. The different areas share a near undisturbed patina. These qualities should be cultivated rather than sanitised in future scenarios.

A theatre is a machine for illusion and storytelling, where the architecture is working hard to signify and symbolise, flatter, and seduce. The studio will study these aspects of the building to look for ways to improve the existing condition. The studio will propose projects transforming the theatre through a surgical analysis of the many spaces and components of the building. The studio's output will be a series of interventions, provocations and extensions that balance the need to preserve the existing condition with the building's potential for future use.

The studio will be organised into three parts:

Survey: The studio will lend considerable attention to understanding the building through on site investigations to study the interwoven layers of theatrical architecture from different historical periods. Surveys will quantify physical properties and the qualified values such as significance, symbolism, and tradition. Recordings will document the intersection between historical periods to understand the evolution of architectural thinking about a particular typology.

Artefact: The survey will be the foundation for the artefact, a large-scale material model that starts the inverted design process from fragment to building. The model is a physical and material manifestation of an essential component or junction found in your survey, translated into a three-dimensional piece at a detailed scale. This 'hot-spot' is a free-standing bricolage of materials that suggests something more than the sum of its parts. The original is not a prescriptive tool but the starting point for new designs and the representation of new artefacts.

Proposal: Students will work iteratively to find an appropriate and feasible way of constructing an architectural project that has contemporary relevance and engages with the existing building. Building on close observations of the context, students will develop their own architectural and technical agenda (an architectural intervention, a strategy for maintenance, a performance or a methodology to improve the use of the building based on an understanding of current challenges).

Projects will answer to the specifics of the building whilst being relevant to the broader discourse on the future of this type of building. The architectural proposal will be developed through large-scale material models, both analogue and digital, and architectural drawings. Craft will inform contemporary construction methods and material exploration by learning from what has already been built.

Learning outcome


  • The students will learn to make precise measured surveys, using analogue and digital surveying technology, and produce quantitative and qualitative documentation and interpretation of an existing building. They will be trained in employing archival material in individual architectural proposals, and to identify the architectural qualities in one's own work that demonstrate a relevance to the field. The students will get insight into the heritage guidelines and value structures that govern architectural projects in the field of building heritage, and learn to convey key terms, definitions, and concepts of preservation in relation to actual design work (oral presentations and writing).


  • The studio will introduce students to methods for research driven approach to working with existing buildings. Students will be introduced to surveying existing buildings through on site fieldwork. Large scale model making and architectural drawing as a vehicle for transformation will be essential skills developed throughout.

General competence:

  • Students will learn to practice as an architect within the field of building transformation. 
Working and learning activities

The studio does not consider research to be a separate exercise from ‘propositional thinking’, the act of reading, observing, surveying and fabricating new artifacts is all propositional by nature and therefore a powerful asset within design thinking. The work phases will be supported by workshops and seminars.

Students will be expected to work on site for parts of the semester, and attend twice-weekly tutorials, seminars, peer to peer feedback sessions, pin-ups and reviews with invited critics.

Site: Centralteateret, Akersgata 38, Oslo

Main output of the students work: Research on the existing building, survey drawings of the existing building 1:50, architectural model of theatre (collective) 1:50, Artefact (large material model) 1:10 or 1:5, Architectural drawings 1:50.

It is highly recommended to take the Centralteateret: Building History elective course in conjunction with this studio.

The studio will be closely linked to the practice work of Kastler Skjeseth Architects. http://www.kastlerskjeseth.no/

Teachers in addition to course responsible is: Benjamin Sjöberg and Alena Rieger.

Mandatory courseworkCourseworks requiredPresence requiredComment
Presence required RequiredAttendance and design production for twice-weekly studio meetings is mandatory.
Obligatoriske arbeidskrav:
Mandatory coursework:Presence required
Courseworks required:
Presence required:Required
Comment:Attendance and design production for twice-weekly studio meetings is mandatory.
Form of assessmentGroupingGrading scaleComment
Portfolio assessment (Vurderingsmappe)-Pass / failThe final grade in the course will be given based on:
- Attendance and design production for twice-weekly studio meetings: 30%
- Mid review and Interim review presentation: 30%
- Final review presentation: 40%
The oral presentation is a part of the portfolio assessment.
Form of assessment:Portfolio assessment (Vurderingsmappe)
Grading scale:Pass / fail
Comment:The final grade in the course will be given based on:
- Attendance and design production for twice-weekly studio meetings: 30%
- Mid review and Interim review presentation: 30%
- Final review presentation: 40%
The oral presentation is a part of the portfolio assessment.