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80 313 Being Tectonic

Full course name in Norwegian Bokmål: 
Being Tectonic
Course code: 
80 313
Level of study: 
Teaching semester: 
2018 Autumn
Assessment semester: 
2018 Autumn
Language of instruction: 
Norwegian / English
Maximum number of students: 
Course content

Professor in Charge: 

Matthew Dalziel


Tectonic culture as understood in architectural discourse is the art of connection between building elements. Its Neolithic root, Tek, meaning “to take by the hand” is also the root of texture. The richness of corporeal and haptic experience provided by the tectonic arts is well understood in architectural poetics and phenomenology, where richness in material relationships heightens an individual’s sense of being and belonging in a place.

In construction, the suite of nouns we use to describe tectonic relationships (stress, tolerance, tension, connection) share their meanings with the language of human relationships. Humans and objects alike, have tectonic relationships with each other governed by the dynamics between them. Our sense of being and belonging with each other is the companion to material tectonics governed by the ways we share the spaces we inhabit.

The 20th century preoccupation with efficiency has been quietly and unintentionally at war with tectonic relationships. Simplification and reduction of complexity have infiltrated our material lives through ever more seamless and smooth material experiences (Zaha Hadid, Apple computers) to such an extreme that the digital, virtual and ephemeral may now have assumed the throne of the material kingdom. In human tectonics, this same inclination for simplification has infected our social worlds, diminishing our capacity to engage with complexity in our society and be present in our relationships with each other.

The social, environmental and economic consequences of this great experiment in ceaseless growth and efficiency are now at our doorstep. As Umair Haque put it in his article for the Harvard business review of the same name, “Our economy is obsessed with efficiency and terrible at everything else” If we are to find a solution to our environmental and economic crisis the sophistication of our relationships with each other will be at its heart.

Being Tectonic is an elective research group that will join the curators of the 2019 Oslo Architecture Triennale to explore the role of architecture in re-establishing our relationships with each other through the physical and finite worlds we create and inhabit.

Learning outcome

Focusing on domestic architecture, the students will undertake a typological and sociological research project into the histories of how we live together, developing a knowledge and understanding in historic models of domesticity, family and community. This research base will then be used to make informed drawn and written propositions for future forms of domesticity that can contribute to fostering cooperation, building community and reclaiming tectonic culture.

Working and learning activities

A series of discussions supported by readings and guest lectures will give structure to a weekly meeting of this design think tank. Through writing, drawing and graphic design we will document our research findings in a publication that will form a part of the research base for the 2019 Oslo Architecture Triennale.

Form of assessmentGroupingGrading scaleComment
ReportIndividualPass / fail
Form of assessment:Report
Grading scale:Pass / fail