fbpx Technosphere | The Oslo School of Architecture and Design


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Full course name in Norwegian Bokmål: 
Course code: 
60 610
Level of study: 
Teaching semester: 
2017 Spring
Language of instruction: 
Required prerequisite knowledge

Passed foundation level courses/ Bachelor. Mandatory for second semester students in Master in Landscape Architecture

Course content

Architecture links and connects polities and their material spaces of inhabitation. The processes that shape and transform contemporary life are marked and inscribed directly into the forms and processes of material transformation of cities and landscapes, which act as very complex sensors. A new intensification is taking form in the Anthropocene, with vast areas of the Arctic and Subarctic being transformed into extractive regions for mineral resources and densely inhabited regions in southern Scandinavia governing them. The aim of this research design studio is twofold: to measure and characterise the material basis of these processes, and to design ways to augment the ability to respond to their intensifications.

The project revolves around the inquiry into the material characterisations of a millenary shift characterising contemporary life on our planet. A new intensification is reshaping the relations between the forms of cohabitation and the material structures and processes of the Earth.

The studio researches and develops methods of inquiry into the extent, scale and intensity of the energy and material flows that sustain contemporary human life. We consider these flows and their solidifications, encrustations, and severance as a process of construction over time and across space: as an architecture and as a landscape, shaping the forms of the interactions between polities and their material base. The technosphere is analysed in its dynamic formations: a large and rapidly growing collection of complex objects resting atop and within a vast and growing layer of waste, only minimally recycled back to sustain human life.

We focus on the technosphere of Scandinavia and its extractive industry and the metropolitan region of Oslo, and inquire into its physical transformations, linking the institutional structures of cohabitation, to the different dynamic processes of accumulation, sedimentation, transformation, assemblage, recycle, abandonment, innovation, decay and waste of the materials that form it. We articulate new forms of representation of these intensifications by asking a rather simple question: how heavy is a city? How heavy a landscape?

The complex answer to this simple question will help to understand new forms of territoriality emerging in the intensified grounds of the Anthropocene, with different rhythms and times of change, as well as different interests involved. The detailed readings and survey of the marks and traces that characterise the technosphere will reveal contested, asynchronous and divergent dynamics. These require architectural knowledge to guide an integrated transformation process.

A multiplicity of interests and territories: the shifts, delays, extinctions, decays and accelerations in the transformation processes of the contemporary technosphere are the structures that form the starting points for a series of strategic designs for new institutions to negotiate complex territorial, architectural and landscape transformations.

Learning outcome

The course provides with a critical framework to investigate and evaluate different discourses on architectural, landscape and urban design methodologies, and to articulate an understanding of the implication of the Anthropocene thesis on metropolitan processes.

The studio work provides knowledge and methods on how to formulate independent research questions, and how to formulate complex design in relation to research.The studio work provides knowledge on how to formulate, evaluate and test strategies and comprehensive design options at different levels of detail.
The studio provides a specific theoretical and practical knowledge on current methods of digital survey of the material basis of the Anthropocene in relation to metropolitan processes.

Working and learning activities

The research design studio outlines in detail the material basis of extraction economies in the Arctic and Subarctic regions of Europe, with a focus on Scandinavia and its capital metropolitan areas.

A first phase evaluates methods to represent in volumetric terms the material processes at play: from the material characterisation of the built environment (above and beneath the ground) using remote sensing and in situ surveys, to the larger urban transformations of the landscape of extraction, with an analysis of onshore and offshore elements of the technosphere. The technosphere is here understood as the artificially formed material and energy flows that sustain life.

A second phase of the design research studio interprets the dynamic processes in relation to competing interests and investigates how architectural knowledge can contribute to the formation of a renewed integrated approach to complex environmental challenges. This part of the work is dedicated to fully detailed strategic documents, aimed at addressing specific transformations marked by divergent interests over the same material processes.

This design research studio is a collaboration with the works of Territorial Agency at the AA Architectural Association School of Architecture, London and with the Centre for Research Architecture at Goldsmiths. A series of joint seminars and workshops will be organised.

Mandatory courseworkPresence requiredComment
Presence requiredNot requiredStudents are expected to attend seminars, tutorials, workshops and trips, and studio lectures
Obligatoriske arbeidskrav:
Mandatory coursework:Presence required
Presence required:Not required
Comment:Students are expected to attend seminars, tutorials, workshops and trips, and studio lectures
Form of assessmentGroupingGrading scaleComment
Portfolio assessment (Vurderingsmappe)IndividualPass / failA portfolio assessment of the whole coursework will be carried out in the end of the semester to finally decide if the student has reached the desired learning outcome.
Form of assessment:Portfolio assessment (Vurderingsmappe)
Grading scale:Pass / fail
Comment:A portfolio assessment of the whole coursework will be carried out in the end of the semester to finally decide if the student has reached the desired learning outcome.