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60 414 Decentering the Practice of Architecture

Full course name in English: 
Decentering the Practice of Architecture
60 414
Syklus 2
2022 Vår
2022 Vår
Maksimum antall studenter: 
Lisbet Harboe
Paul-Antoine Yves Marie Lucas

This elective course is open to master students of architecture and landscape architecture. 

Om emnet

The architectural profession has siloed itself. With increasing focus placed on image and form, the agency of the professional architect can be seen to have steadily diminished over the last 50 years. As the environments in which architects work grow in complexity, official reports chart the demise of the profession.(note) Routes to building no longer necessarily start with the architect; what remains of the architect’s services, reduced to accommodate other statutory, construction and management specialists, now occupies a smaller space in the decision-making process. However, there is a growing practice of architecture that is breaking free from this mould, embracing the complexities of politics and people and finally admitting that architecture without these influences is just glorified furniture design. This new mode of practice is emerging with a very different set of role models, creating new types of outputs that relate to a very different set of role models, creating new types of outputs that relate to a very different set of values. While the profession begins to wither, the discipline of architecture is re-emerging. (Bryant, Rogers, Wigfall, 2018)

This Elective course is intended to be a discussion platform around the role of the architect in the 21st century. Often reduced to the simple role of a consultant or service provider, the architect’s socio professional status is being challenged by the forces of contemporary neoliberal urbanism. Nonetheless, this context has also engendered an increased diversification of the definition and scope of the architect’s role. New organizational and operational models as well as more engaged political strategies can be seen in young emerging practices around the world. 

In this elective course, we want to develop a body of research centered around those new roles. From the architect-entrepreneur to the architect as a political agent, a lot can be learnt from those practices. New forms of resistance—whether they be non-profit organizations, cooperatives, traditional company structures or start-ups—all, in their own way, open new paths for the future generation of architects. We start this discussion with Jeremy Till’s own insights on the book he was writing,

First, architecture is a dependent discipline. Second, architecture, as profession and practice, does everything to resist that very dependency. The book explores that resistance. [...] but what if that book is about the clash of those two truisms and the gap that opens up between them? The gap between what architecture—as practice, profession, and object—actually is (in all its dependency and contingency) and what architects want it to be (in all its false perfection). What then? (Till, 2009)

Chris Bryant, Caspar Rogers and Tristan Wigfall, "The Changing Forms and Values of Architectural Practice", New Modes: Redefining Practice, Architectural Design, vol.88, September/October 2018, p.7.

Jeremy Till, Architecture Depends. Cambridge Mass: MIT Press, 2009, pp. 1-2.


The students will learn from engaging in critical thinking and other ways of practicing architecture/landscape architecture in order to better comprehend how current crises offer the opportunity to challenge the role of the architect and designer. Students will learn how to verbalize, research and illustrate this personal critical outlook on contemporary issues.

Praktisk organisering og arbeidsmåter

​The focus of the semester will be on the dissemination of the students’ findings in written forms such as articles and/or interviews. Here, engagement is understood as making a contribution to the discipline and being part of the contemporary discourse in architecture. In the context of this elective, that act of engagement takes the form of writing. The writings will be framed around current and recurring topics in Norway (such as participation processes, the third housing sector, the political engagement of the architect, public-private development initiatives, social housing policies, ecological crisis, circularity, etc.) while the main question remains: How to practice differently in order to address these issues?

The course will be structured around a series of lectures, readings and case studies; each week a new topic will be explored. The lectures will be followed by a debate session moderated by the students. The students will each present a case during the course, adding to the topics discussed. 

The student writings will be gathered in a publication/newspaper-like booklet to be published at the end of the semester. This publication may also include contributions from lecturers and teachers visiting the course. 

The teaching team will be Paul-Antoine Lucas and Bùi Quý Sơn in collaboration with Lisbet Harboe.


A reading list will be available prior to the course.

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