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60 528 In Transit: Contingency City

Full course name in English: 
In Transit: Contingency City
60 528
Syklus 2
2020 Høst
2020 Høst
Maksimum antall studenter: 

Passed foundation level courses (bachelor level).                                      Open for master level architecture and landscape architecture students. 

Om emnet


The In Transit Studio

The In Transit Studio aims at preparing students to conduct their architectural investigations through engaging in current, complex topics. Students will develop their design skills by studying and proposing spatial and site-specific solutions to situations caused by global challenges. Through practice-based research, the In Transit Studio aims at developing a deeper understanding of the fundamentals of architecture and to (re-)discover the role of the architect as a societal agent of change.

How the world will have changed after enduring the COVID-19 pandemic remains to be seen. But we do know that measures for stopping the spread of the virus have dramatically affected our everyday lives. The #stayhome instruction, imposed globally in different ways during the spring of 2020, has for some people increased the feeling of home as a safe place. For others the isolation has heightened the feeling of loneliness and for many, because of complicated family relations, home isolation has felt like being in confinement with no escape. The value of public spaces, our common arenas for social and physical interaction, has been reaffirmed – now illustrated by the collective experience of involuntary solitary or extreme social coexistence.


Contingency Planning

Contingency is a future event or circumstance which is possible but cannot be predicted with certainty. To ensure the safety of their citizens and to uphold critical functions and infrastructure in the event of an emergency, governments, local authorities, businesses, and other societal actors 

need to plan for the unknown by determining prioritized actions that can be rapidly implemented. A contingency plan is also sometimes called a Plan B. 

However, the spatial response to emergencies is quite often improvised. Structures are hastily put together, often with no added value for a community (with money spent instead of invested). In theory, temporary structures are put up when needed and then removed when not in use. The set-up and closure of such sites is far more complex. The high numbers of people seeking sanctuary in Europe in 2015 demonstrated that the collective emergency preparedness of European countries fell short. The political decision to prevent people from coming to Norway in the subsequent years, also meant that the improvised solutions that had been built during the alleged crisis, had to be scaled down shortly after.

What if instead the architecture, landscape architecture and urban design could be better integrated in contingency planning? The preferred option, Plan A, with purpose-built, multi-performing structures used for everyday activities, and designed and built to also withstand cycles of extreme use?


The Collective Center                                                                                                                                

A Collective center is defined - in emergency contexts - as pre-existing buildings used for temporary accommodation and provision of assistance and protection of displaced persons. Purpose-built collective centers are rare. Even in Norway, asylum and reception centers (one type of a collective center) are often located in buildings unsuitable for habitation and sometimes placed in so-called leftover spaces. Most collective centers are used only for a couple of days or weeks, in other contexts they may be used for a decade or more.

With new types of threats, with climate change, and displacement being a constant phenomenon – either because of internal movement or caused by (forced) migration – what does the 2020 version of the Collective Center look like? Where are they placed in our communities? How can these centers be turned into positive places with added value for a neighborhood? The studio will focus on the architecture and location of a Collective Center, as one of many possible outputs of contingency planning for emergencies. We will use the Oslo Metropolitan area as our case. 


Memories of the future

In the (recent) history of architecture, there are many examples of architects and designers who were planning for an unknown future, where advanced architecture and complex societal questions were interdependent – and called both radical and utopian. The studio will study the ideas and concepts from the future-oriented past – from Cedric Price and Buckminister Fuller to Archigram and Superstudio. What can we learn from studying these pioneers and their optimistic visions of a collectively oriented urban life?


The student will learn how explore and develop architectural design for extreme and complex situations. The student will gain insight into real-time, global challenges– and the role of the architect in this context. The studio will provide knowledge about civil protection, global humanitarian affairs, the United Nations, and national & local authorities responsible for contingency planning, emergency response, displacement management, and integration initiatives.

Praktisk organisering og arbeidsmåter

The main output of this semester is to design a Collective Center (individually or in teams). The studio will develop a set of architectural projects that together will constitute a (part of a-) contingency plan for Oslo. Each student will determine functions and programs needed for his/her/their Collective Center(s), based on input provided throughout the course and found through self-study.

Determining the location(s) of the Collective Center(s) is an important part of the semester brief. The studio will study and compare different sites (neighborhoods, plots) through urban profiling exercises. The studio will use qualitative methods for studying and evaluating the everyday life of public spaces, buildings and other structures in a chosen neighborhood, to uncover the causes and dynamics of social behavior (or exclusion), (lack of) diversity, and (in-)equality in the use and access of these spaces, and how the Collective Center can reflect, amplify or improve these conditions. 


Excursions: The hidden places of the Oslo Metropolitan area.  

Form of assessment

Deliverables throughout - and at the end of the course - shall include imaginative and innovative, yet concrete project proposals with architectural designs that are carefully presented through models, drawings and visualizations. Students are expected to work at both a (strategic) city level and at a detailed architectonic scale.The student needs to answer all assignments and be present at all presentations to pass the course (depending on how the situation evolves, online solutions may also be considered). If a student is not able to be present his/her/their project or be present at scheduled reviews, a medical leave note must be presented. All answered assignments and presentations are subject to an overall assessment - with an emphasis on the presentation of the final design project, which will be evaluated by external juror(s) and responsible teachers.

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