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60 532 IN TRANSIT STUDIO: Dignified reception

Full course name in English: 
IN TRANSIT STUDIO: Dignified reception
60 532
Syklus 2
2022 Høst
2022 Høst
Maksimum antall studenter: 
Håvard Breivik

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

Om emnet


The In Transit Studio aims at preparing students to conduct their architectural investigations through engaging in current, complex societal topics. Students will develop their design skills by studying and proposing site-specific solutions at a detailed architectonic and neighborhood scale. 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.  

The Studio was created in 2016 in partnership with the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC)/NORCAP, a global and independent humanitarian organization that helps people forced to flee. The aim of the studio is to contribute new thinking to the emerging field of displacement management and to educate future built environment professionals, who are ready to take on the challenges of our times. The NRC/NORCAP will be actively involved in the studio course.


Millions of people are now displaced due to war in Europe. This is also a reminder that at least 82.4 million people around the world have been forced to flee their homes (UNHCR). Similar to humanitarian response operations, the tasks and content of this studio course may change throughout the academic semester, according to current events and responding to the shifting situation and needs. First, we do not yet have a fixed site. Second, additional tasks may be added between and during announced project phases. Being flexible and willing to accommodate shifting priorities is a prerequisite for joining this studio. While the studio will be working with real-time challenges, potentially sensitive situations, and partner organizations with specific mandates, the studio will focus on the core of our profession: to provide dignified and safe living conditions for all human beings, including in reception situations. Contributing with our specific skills as built environment experts with well-founded ideas and caring for the ones we design for and with, is a valuable contribution to the situation we are in now, and sought-after skills for the future.


The topics of everyday life and emergency situations are central to this course. A so-called normal, everyday life is something that should not be taken for granted, especially in the context of contingency planning and displacement management, or in neighborhoods facing social challenges. Functions and places that constitute a high degree of livability depend on – among other things – how we design our surroundings. Livability is a central concept in this course, both in everyday situations and in emergencies.


Planning for emergencies is similar to urban planning as it attempts to provide capacities for unknown events. However, while emergency planning can steadily produce new strategies, some measures result in residual urban form, situated somewhere, and being present in people's everyday lives. While the type of crisis cannot be predicted with certainty, the consequences of some can to a certain extent be planned for. Displacement is foremost among these.  

Displacement can mean many different things. The In Transit Studio applies the term quite broadly and refers to internal and temporary displacement due to sudden events. But it can also refer to new arrivals in a new location after having fled conflict and persecution, which is the focus of this semester.



The semester is divided into four parts. Each part is equally important and together constitute the semester brief.

Part I In search of a site: Mapping

The location of arrival infrastructure facilities – such as reception centers, collective centers, and other functions related to displacement management – will have an impact on its surrounding community, for better or worse. It will also have a critical impact on the health, well-being, and protection of the displaced population, as well as on the ability to manage daily activities, ensure participation and develop relations with the host community. Furthermore, there is currently a discrepancy between solving immediate needs and developing sustainable solutions benefiting the ones fleeing and the communities and environments hosting them. An important part of displacement management is to identify suitable locations for the functions outlined above. In this part of the semester, the studio will be engaged – with partner organizations – in identifying and mapping potential locations for arrival infrastructure. While the areas, plots or structures are yet to be determined, we will work in the Norwegian context.

Part II Sketch project: The practice of everyday life / The common place

In this part, the focus is to transform existing buildings and other structures and activate the surrounding areas into a collection of outdoor and indoor meeting places that allow for cross-cultural encounters.

Through your or your team’s project proposals, you will address fundamental issues of social, spatial, and material justice embedded in the act of design of public spaces in urban contexts. The projects will focus on specific topics such as, but not limited to, gender, age-inclusivity, social visibility and safety. Influenced by notions and methods of ‘Performative Urbanism’ (Wolfrun, 2013), ‘Social Urbanism’ (Echeverri, 2003), ‘Polyvalence’ (Hertzberger, 1991) and ‘Elasticity’ (Hauderowicz & Serena, 2019), you will be expected to imagine innovative spatial interventions challenging the normative and prescriptive character of public spaces today.

Part III Sketch project: In case of emergency / The Collective center

In the third part, the focus is to plan for dignified reception of new arrivals, refugees, and other displaced persons. The brief is to transform existing buildings and other structures into a new type of Collective center that ensures safety and wellbeing of the inhabitants. In humanitarian contexts, collective centers are mostly existing buildings or structures used as temporary accommodation for displaced populations. Collective centers have highly variable life spans. While 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. In general, buildings spontaneously occupied or assigned as temporary accommodation are often unfinished, defunct or abandoned, meaning that the quality of the building may have deteriorated since they were last in use or because they were never completed. The program of this part shall include emergency accommodation of new arrivals, but any additional functions are to be determined by you or by each project team.


Part IV The detailed project: The hybrid / The Collective city

The detailed project will be a hybrid project of the two sketch projects, with both every day and emergency functions. But in this part, you will also include a third element: other emergency capacities, e.g. facilities ensuring food security, supply storage, or any other function that may be needed in case of an emergency as per preparedness scenarios identified by Norwegian contingency planning entities. The reason why collective centers are rarely purpose-built is in part because of the term idle capital. Few want to invest in buildings that might end up being empty for large parts of their life cycle, without generating income. Norwegian contingency planning agencies also distinguish between reception for new arrivals and for internally displaced persons in case of an emergency domestically - but why? In the detailed project you will explore all this, by combining the two sketch projects and this third element. A possible outcome can be described as follows:

To design a multifunctional neighborhood hub that is a crossover of the Common place and the Collective center program that serves the neighborhood also in case of other types of contingencies. This juxtaposition of constructed, but at times unused emergency structures, and spaces meant for everyday functions, is the output of this part. You will study, invent, and visualize the spatiality of these converging situations, ending up with a hub or center that has everyday programs and emergency accommodation, services, and other contingency planning capacities.


You will gain in-depth insights - and work with real-time challenges related to displacement. You will gain knowledge about global humanitarian responses, the United Nations, International Non-Governmental Organization (NGOs), and national & local authorities responsible for refugee reception and inclusion.

You will learn how to obtain information through fieldwork and self-studies and use this as input to design proposals. You will learn how to engage with real stakeholders and maintain a dialogue with these throughout the project period. You will learn how to explore and develop architectural design for unexpected situations. You will gain insight into real-time, global challenges– and the role of the architect in this context. You will gain knowledge about societal challenges.

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 architectural scale. Students need to answer all assignments and be present at all presentations to pass the course.  If a student is not able to present his/her/their projects or be present at scheduled reviews, a medical leave note must be submitted. All answered assignments and presentations are subject to an overall assessment, which will be evaluated by external juror(s) and responsible teachers.  

The evaluation of the work will be based on a continual assessment defined by the reviews happening throughout the semester and not solely on the final project and mid-term presentation.  

Praktisk organisering og arbeidsmåter

Through research and design, the students will develop projects that address social challenges or unforeseen events, while maintaining everyday functions. A big part of the students’ learning process is to research and determine functions and programs needed for each project proposal. This will be based on input provided throughout the course, one of more study trips, and found through self-study and teamwork.

OAT Academy 2022

16-23 September: In Transit Studio students will also represent AHO at the Oslo Architecture Triennale (OAT) ACADEMY International workshop ‘(RE)ACTING / (EN)ACTING - Collective dissidence: reclaiming the neighborhood 



 Marseille, France.  Subject to change, based on the current situation - we may potentially travel to one or more destinations in Norway in addition or instead.

* * * * *

The history of Marseille has been marked by successive waves of immigration. The social and spatial condition of the city today illustrates the contrast between this important heritage that has impregnated its image and identity, and the deeply contested future plans for the city. The harbor city at the junction between North Africa and the rest of Europe is an island in the middle of the Mediterranean region that is often portrayed as “A city where, the second that one stepped onto the ground, one could say: ‘That’s it. I’m home.’ Marseille belongs to those who live there.”(Izzo, 1995).  

During this week-long study trip, we will visit the historic center of Marseille, the emblematic housing estates that were developed between the 1930s and the 1980s, and ongoing urban planning projects. You will witness first-hand clear ‘architectures of social segregation’ (Barthes & Angelil, 2020) created by limited maintenance and political action regarding social housing policies. We also plan to bring you on visits to local architectural studios and the Marseille Architecture School (ENSAM).


Ckick here for reading list in Leganto.

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