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40 665 Circular Prototyping: Clay

Full course name in English: 
Circular Prototyping: Clay
40 665
Syklus 2
2024 Vår
2024 Vår
Maksimum antall studenter: 
Tine Hegli
Lina Elisabeth Broström

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

Om emnet

Description of the studio series

The Circular Prototyping studio offers students a comprehensive understanding of architecture within the context of environmental sustainability. The curriculum centers on the principles of circular building practices, with a specific focus on building materials and construction techniques that substantially mitigate environmental impact. These principles are investigated within a design-build studio format, equipping students with vital tools to guide form-finding processes and facilitate critical evaluation of sustainability measures as an integral part of the design process. The design explorations also include climate adaption as consideration of local weather and climate conditions, spanning the historical context, present circumstances, and future climate scenarios. These projections, in parallel with strategies to reduce negative impact, establish a meaningful link between present design choices and their alignment with the long-term UN Sustainability Goals (SDGs).

An essential aspect of the curriculum involves introducing students to the application of lifecycle methodology and environmental assessment (LCA) as a decision-making tool. LCA enables students to analyse the environmental impacts associated with linear versus circular practices, fossil versus renewable resources, and provides insight into policy considerations to facilitate sustainable outcome. As part of the semester work, each student will produce an individual paper reflecting on findings from the design-build process, with particular emphasis on circular potentials and concerns. These papers will be assessed alongside design contributions and building activities to enhance learning experience in circular practices and proficiency in lifecycle methodology.  


The studio´s core activities revolve around collaborative design-build projects that mirrors architectural practice. The hands-on experience with building allows students to apply theoretical knowledge in a practical manner and foster a deeper understanding of possibilities and challenges at hand as we move forward into a future with circular economy and ecological awareness. Each studio semester focuses on in-depth investigations of different materials or components in relation to their environmental potentials. For the spring semester 2024, our partners include Sperlebakken, a creative space for arts, crafts and ecological food production, and FutureBuilt, a publically owned initiative aiming at climate neutrality in the building industry aligned with the UN SDG´s. The project is situated in Luster, within Vestland county, and its primary objective to design a cluster of lodges dedicated to an artist in residence program. The specific material of interest is clay, a traditionally renowned bio-based material that has garnered increasing attention in the industry due to its notable environmental capabilities as well as its positive effect on indoor climate and health. Throughout the semester, students will conduct comprehensive investigations encompassing site analysis, climate considerations, material studies, and building techniques, progressing from conceptual ideas to full-scale prototyping of a lodge unit at Sperlebakken in May.  




  • of climate mitigation strategies relating to construction
  • of climate adaptation strategies relating to construction
  • of circular construction principals
  • of evaluating environmental impact of choices through quantification
  • of clay (resource availability, properties, behavior, application)
  • of constructive logic in building with clay
  • of historical and vernacular traditions in working with earth
  • of regional climate conditions and thermal comfort (u-value, hygroscopy)



  • In analog/digital tools for calculation environmental impact (LCA)
  • In techniques and tools to build with clay in various ways
  • In circular design development from concept to finalized built project (from sketch to building manual and final assembly)
  • In practical and constructive detailing when working with clay as a material
  • In critical thinking upon standard practice and to reflect on future circular design possibilities and strategies



General competence:

  • Ability to design and assess our making from a circular perspective.
  • Assessing environmentally sound design results, learning to integrate in-depth materials investigations and big-data climate studies as parameters in the form-finding process.
  • In being able to understand possibilities of using clay and other bio-based materials as an alternative to carbon intensive materials.
  • In understanding the complexity of a building process and construction site (resource availability, time, economy, transportation)
  • An awareness of the political agenda in relation to climate mitigation and adaption – nationally and internationally.
  • Design-build competence from conceptual models and drawings, physical models to scale, 3D models, 2D drawing 1:200 – 1:20 to 1:1 construction drawings and building process.


Praktisk organisering og arbeidsmåter

Course organization

The course is built up in 4 modules: 1) Material investigation 2) Design development 3) Construction drawings 4) Prototyping 1:1. A theoretical assignment concluding in individual papers is running throughout the full semester and presented at a final review with external examiner.


Each module consists of 1 task, relevant lectures and readings, feed-back sessions, and pin-up.  There is expected presence at all common activities. We use outlook calendar for teaching activities and communication.


  1. Material investigations
  • Getting to know to the material Clay (individual)
  • Visiting relevant buildings (plenum)
  • Introduction to technical properties of materials (GWP, U-value, hydroscopic qualities, durability in exposed situations etc)
  • Introduction to lifecycle methodology and LCA


  1. Design development
  • Study trip to Luster with purpose to analyse site specific conditions and relevant functions regarding the program of a small Lodge
  • Studies of relevant built references will be done in parallel (groups)
  • Students are asked to develop a clear architectural concept from the site, program and reference study. This will be organized as an internal competition with an external jury.
  • Student will in this phase work with drawings, models and illustrations to strengthen their ideas. A common site model will be developed.


  1. Construction drawings
  • As a group the studio will now work collaborative as an architectural practise and together develop the winning proposal through relevant construction drawing in 2D and 3D
  • Mock-ups in 1:1 will be worked on as an integral part of this phase.
  • A booklet called “Building manual” will be developed and printed describing each step of the coming building phase.


  1. Prototyping 1:1
  • A 2 week intensive building period at site in Luster.
  • Together with local crafts people the group will take part in finalising the project. The work will be organized in smaller groups each responsible for different tasks and processes according to the Building manual.


There will be excursions to see relevant projects in the Oslo region, study trip in week 10 to learn about the project location in Luster as well see historically and contemporary buildings in the region (not mandatory). The first two weeks of May the full studio will travel to Luster to build (mandatory).


Link to course literature registered in Leganto

ProsjektoppgaveIndividuellBestått / ikke bestått Project assignment:
Bi-weekly pin-ups in plenum, weekly individual and group supervision, student-to-student feedback session, internal and external censor present at midterm and final review. An individual paper (report) on a focused topic and associated tool/method will be part of the final review in addition to evaluation of design efforts and building activities.

Karakterskala:Bestått / ikke bestått
Kommentar: Project assignment:
Bi-weekly pin-ups in plenum, weekly individual and group supervision, student-to-student feedback session, internal and external censor present at midterm and final review. An individual paper (report) on a focused topic and associated tool/method will be part of the final review in addition to evaluation of design efforts and building activities.