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40 643 Body and Space Morphologies : Acting and The Collective XI

Full course name in English: 
Body and Space Morphologies : Acting and The Collective XI
40 643
Syklus 2
2021 Vår
2021 Vår
Maksimum antall studenter: 
Rolf Gerstlauer
  • The course is for masterstudents of all the study-fields at AHO - Architecture, Landscape Architecture and Design - interestet in phenomenology in architecture; the discourse on the phenomenal world that we are entangled with.
  • The course is for masterstudents who wish to engage in research creation by working personal initative in an indepentend investigation and exploration towards the making of an inspired material practice able to produce collective awareness for the issues at stake.



Om emnet



Body & Space Morphologies: Content, Overall Aims and Methods

Body and Space Morphologies is a research-based teaching program placed in the field of Architecture & Culture studies. Dedicated to Phenomenology in Architecture, the program offers Trans-Disciplinary master studios in explorative architectural and pre-architectural making, sensing and thinking.

From The Oxford Handbook of Contemporary Phenomenology (2012, Dan Zahavi, ed.):
“Phenomenology shares the conviction that the critical stance proper to philosophy requires a move away from a straightforward metaphysical or empirical investigation of objects to an investigation of the very framework of meaning and intelligibility that makes any such straightforward investigation possible in the first place. It precisely asks how something like objectivity is possible in the first place.”

Our attempt is to partake in the discourse on the Phenomenology of Architecture by working and studying Architectural Phenomenology outside of the Conventions of Architecture. In theory, this can mean a free-thinking, and to some degree also a “free-making” and/or “free-looking”, yet in the realm of our studios it means the making of a dedicated Artistic Research which is looking for the Creation of a Material Practice in which the student can gain a certain expertise in and through which the discourse on the Phenomenology of Architecture can be tried on – if it not already is embodied by the material itself.

We aim at preparing and enabling students to conduct their own investigation into Architectural Phenomenology understood as a Research Creation; a working mode creating an inspired Material Practiceattuned to process rather than the communication of outputs or products”. We consider this to be the Artistic Parallel to both Traditional Scholarly Research and Common Architectural Design Practice.

Based on performativity and affordance theories, performance and performance studies, disability and neurodiversity studies as well as phenomenology and perception theories, the Body & Space Morphologies Studio Works investigate primal and/or pre-architectural material/processes/phenomena/conditions and develop or perform a series of experienced distinct objects that behave relational, that inspire imagination, that provide new knowledge, architectural interests and/or architectural identities.

Instead of mediating architecture through a thought process that works with abstraction, illustration and representation, and that is intentional and argumentative involving the use or development of concepts, ideas and strategies, our design process focuses on the acting, sensing and thinking with objects/environments/conditions, and the craft of our hands in the making of them.

Students individually study the performance of and with materials or environments of their choice. The studio emphasizes reiterated acting with a material body and gains experience and confidence in the making as a “becoming or being architecture”. Lectures, individual reviews and an extensive reading list enable the students to enter the discourse on the phenomenology in architecture on the base of their own material practice, and to furthermore collectively and critically reflect on theories and research related to perception, affordance, behavior, performativity and performance in architecture, objects and/or environments.




The Body & Space Morphology Studio on Acting and The Collective offers students to place their working initatives for a research creation under one of the following topics:

Catharsis:  the necessity to do something because of a particular interest / inspiration / desire of yours. Satisfies your curiosity and releases a working process that brings you closer to that which you want to get to know better.

Land: the readiness to engage with an environment, source or ground from which you can draw affordance from. Relates your creation and material process to a body/ source/phenomena you connect it too.

House: the want to make a house (construction/unit/infrastructure/garden/beholder) you want or need to make. Releases the attempt to make that house and finds ways to make it based on your understanding of the "want" as a necessity that connects the work to something else.

Film: the confrontation with conditions and phenomena and the practice of looking at and forming content through recording and editing moving images and audo. Strengthens your awareness for existing alternative narratives in the way we see production and presentation of phenomena and conditions.



The Body & Space Morphology Studio on Acting and The Collective Spring 2021 offers its students two workplaces: our regular studio space at AHO and our LISTA Field Studio in Farsund, Southern Norway.

In collaboration with Farsund Commune, section for culture and sports, Stiv Kuling AS architects as well as private business and landowners, the Body & Space Morphologies teaching and research unit maintains the LISTA Field-Studio as an extension to the regular AHO Studio.

Throughout the semester, students of the Body & Space Morphologies studio are given the possibility to spend shorter or longer periods in Lista – or alternative; to spend the whole semester in Lista. The choice of working place is not made dependend on the chosen working topics, but we encourage students working the topic "Land" to onsider at least some of their studies to take place in the Lista environment.

Students choosing to work in the LISTA Field-Studio are given free accommodation, access to the land and personnel capacities as well as material recourses etc..

The aim with this initiative is threefold:
a) to provide students with the possibility to spend shorter or longer periods on the LISTA peninsula in order to draw from the affordance that resides in this particular multi-faceted cultural landscape.
b) through the individual works of the students to collect and show a growing body of artistic research that reflects on issues of - or that makes new subjects relative to – the Lista Peninsula.
c) to strengthen ongoing and/or to make new collaborations for the establishing of an International Interdisciplinary Research Creation project-proposal called The LISTA Project.

The Field-Studio in LISTA is run by the architects Jan Gunnar Skjeldsøy and Anders Eik Pilskog, Stiv Kuling AS, Farsund. Their atelier will serve as common place for discussions and the supervising of those students working in Lista. However, students choosing this option are entirely free to decide where and what to work with. The initiative for an artistic research – what it copes with and wants to try itself on - still remains the responsibility of the student.

Please contact the teaching body for more information on accommodation, working conditions and possibilities connected to the LISTA Field Studio.





Overall aims:

Body & Space Morphologies students learn how to develop strong initiatives for an explorative working process that acts on impulse /affordance and that creates visual/haptic experience that again stimulates, or re-states/re-news, architectural content. As a student in the Body & Space Morphologies studio one is asked to submit to performativity as the instance in which to act a material, condition or event - hence the individual act, or the acting and making, makes also the discursive space of the social(ly) employed collective phenomenology in architecture: the three forms of creativity that in Norwegian language are skaperglede, skapertrang and skaperkraft, make in sum again that what could be named as “skaperkunnskap” – the Creative Knowledge about this which is created.

After completing the course, the student should have:

Knowledge of

  • the basics in phenomenology of architecture and the various practices that exist within (and that can become part of) architectural phenomenology

  • the basics in affordance theory and the theories concerning objecthood and/or object relations as means to fuel and reflect upon a material practice and/or artistic research in the field of architecture

  • the basics in performance and performance studies that make body & space morphologies: ways of making, looking at, discussing and seeing/understanding qualia and perception in the working of architecture

  • the basics in disability studies and neurodiversity studies as the necessary activist movements working and re-defining the human condition from “all the world’s a stage” (Shakespeare) towards for all of the human spectrum with its diverse behavior

  • the basics of performativity, language and speech acts as the tools that can add value to the making and a work – but that not necessarily must seek to replace the issues at stake in a work or a thing

  • the foundational preparations for an advanced haptic visual and experimental artistic research leading to a material practice and/or architectural phenomenology

Skills in

  • finding, developing and/or embracing initiatives for the making of an inspired, explorative and imaginative artistic research

  • manufacturing physical and/or visual (or otherwise sensible/perceptible) works and gaining a unique expertise in the craft(s) deployed in the making of these artifacts

  • conducting this artistic research with the desire to make or pursue a material practice containing, or inviting for, reflections in phenomenology of architecture / architectural phenomenology

  • deploying complementary ways of working and means of creative investigations that make, demonstrate or narrate a dialogue between the works inherent qualities and how this connects to (or can become) issues, phenomena and/or subjects in the world

  • maintaining a personal diary of the making that can be worked into documents of the making aiming at a third-party readability

  • approaching environments, situations and discussions phenomenological and applying and recognizing performativity in speech and action as productive means from which to provoke and receive social employed knowing in trans-disciplinary teams

Competence in

  • developing distinct initiatives and choosing the craft in which to act or work them so as to partake in the discourse on the phenomenology of architecture

  • approaching and acting on impulse with all sorts of material, objects, environments and/or events and gaining valuable experience, artefacts and/or documents from this

  • conceiving of and presenting/communicating unique architectural content/research through a haptic visual material and the phenomena or conditions contained and experienced in it

  • understanding the mechanisms and rhetoric of systems of oppression, learned behavior, eugenics and stigma that are un-productive and unsustainable (in the field of architecture as well as in the systems we call architecture)

  • developing and/or pursuing life-long initiatives for a material practice in architectural phenomenology that is independent of, and/or adaptable to, any kind of professional commission

  • not knowing a thing, but having the passion, dedication, endurance and imagination to wanting to get to know it



Praktisk organisering og arbeidsmåter


Organization, Workload and Activities

At AHO and if the restrictions concerning the corona pandemic allow for it, the course is organized as a studio in which each student has a designated working area for the whole semester and no matter if parts of the study are conducted in Lista.

In the Lista Field Studio and if the restrictions concerning the corona pandemic allow for it, students meet for discussions in the atelier of Stiv Kuling As in Farsund but have their working place either in the open land or in their private accomodation that we provide for you.

The working week goes from Wednesday to Monday. Tuesdays are reserved for the studies in the elective courses. Friday to Monday are silent working days (meaning no teaching is provided and you work independently) while the studio meets for every Wednesday and Thursday from 10 to 5 for lectures, screenings, reviews and work-table talks.

We have five public mid-term reviews and prepare at the end of the semester a work display for the AHO WORKS Exhibition. The exhibition allows for the students to display their complete works (all objects and artefacts – found or made) together with a book and/or film or video containing a written and/or otherwise illustrated experience of their making and that what the making had connected to. An external sensor team will study the exhibition and books and/or video/films and then give feedback and critique on the individual work but also on the studio as a whole.

The Body & Space Morphologies diploma thesis candidates are integrated in the studio and work in the same space (at AHO or in Lista). We recommend the master course students to attend the diploma mid-term reviews (between four or five in the course of the semester).

If the covid restrictions allow for it, we plan two excursions to the Lista Peninsula in Southern-Norway. The first visitation in February happens in the form of a four-day long field-trip in which each student draws from the affordance that resides in that particular landscape to make site specific-works and/or to gather material and experience relevant for the working process in the studio. The second visitation (during the regular excursion week in March) is organized as a mix between study-trip, seminars, talks, performance events, craft workshops and work-demonstrations related to the being in and coping with the affordance and challenges of a landscape (and culture) exposed to rapid change. In case of an AHO lock-down and travel restrictions due to covid, the two excursions will be replaced by online workshops and events.




The Body and Space Morphologies studios collaborate with capacities in other fields of the Humanities (and the Science) providing us with the Trans-Disciplinary syllabus (lectures, readings and field-studies / excursions) necessary to individually and collectively ponder and reflect on Phenomenology in Architecture; the Human Condition and the Creative Act it is to make and conceive of Relational Objects or Architectural Phenomenology.


Rolf Gerstlauer, professor, architect and multimedia artist/researcher at The Oslo School of Architecture and Design, AHO. Head of the Body and Space Morphologies research and teaching program. Maintains an artistic practice together with Dind and collaborates with her in implementing aspects of Disability and Neurodiversity Studies into the teachings of the Body and Space Morphologies studios.

Julie Valentine Dind, performer/artist/phd-student, Theatre Arts and Performance Studies, Brown University, Providence/USA. Dind’s scholarly work provides all the Body and Space Morphologies studios with an updated syllabus on Performance and Performance Studies, Disability Studies and the Neurodiversity Movement. The Body and Space Morphologies studios serve as laboratory in which this work is sought to be implemented into architectural education – and architecture per se.

Jan Gunar Skjeldsøy & Anders Eik Pilskog, architects, Stiv Kuling AS, Farsund/Norway. Skjeldsøy and Pilskog, both former AHO students, are long-term collaborators to the Body and Space Morphologies studios and since 2019 also our teaching assistants. Together they sign responsible to run and teach the LISTA Field-Studio since autumn 2019.

Wenkai Xu, did her Body & Space Morphologies Catharsis studio diploma thesis "A House for me and my animals" in January 2019. She is the Body & Space Morphologies studio teaching assistant in Oslo and works as alumnus with the continuation of her project, inspires the studio and together with Gerstlauer co-supervises the diploma works.

Recommended Literature and Mandatory Readings

At the start of the semester, a detailed "recommended reading list" is handed out. Most of those readings are for the semester made available in the course book-shelf in the AHO library. Additional readings, most of Dind's papers and other relevant texts that make the course syllabus / mandatory curriculum, are handed out as pdf's in the Moodle platform of the course.



ProsjektoppgaveIndividuellBestått / ikke beståttAttendance & participation – individual studio / or field work:
20 weeks full-time study. The work has to be conducted and performed in-situ in LISTA or in the Studio at AHO (or in case of an AHO lockdown; at home but made available on the moodle-platform) - the working material is present at any time.
Karakterskala:Bestått / ikke bestått
Kommentar:Attendance & participation – individual studio / or field work:
20 weeks full-time study. The work has to be conducted and performed in-situ in LISTA or in the Studio at AHO (or in case of an AHO lockdown; at home but made available on the moodle-platform) - the working material is present at any time.