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80 517 Re-Store: Prefab

Full course name in English: 
Re-Store: Prefab
80 517
Syklus 2
2020 Høst
2020 Høst
Maksimum antall studenter: 
Erik Fenstad Langdalen

Compleeted foundation courses at AHO or equivalent at other institution. 

Om emnet

This studio is about prefabricated and mass-produced architecture: its history, cultural value, spread and popularity, technological properties and spatial potential. The assignment is to investigate existing prefabricated building structures, using the conceptual framework of experimental preservation to explore their reuse, transformation and preservation.

Prefabrication is written into the DNA of modern architecture. A great number of mass produced materials, building components, structural systems and entire buildings are constantly being shipped around the world. Traditional on-site craftsmanship has been replaced by assembly lines, the relationship between site and building is profoundly redefined, and the idea of a regionally anchored architecture is challenged by an architecture that is interchangeable and global.  

Yet prefabrication is not a new idea. Medieval builders seems to have used prefabrication extensively when construction Gothic buildings. During the 16th century there are several known instances of prefabricated architectural elements being shipped around in Renaissance Europe. The expanding colonial powers of the 17th and 18th centuries brought prefabricated “kit-houses” to their new settlements in America, Africa, Asia and Australia. “The industrial revolution” of the 19th century introduced complex building systems of cast iron and reinforced concrete on a large scale, and for the pioneers of the modern movement of the 20th century, prefabrication became an integral part of a new ideological and aesthetical project. The rebuilding of Europe after WWII called for a massive industrialisation of the building industry, and prefabricated architecture has since the 1960s ruled the world.


Preservation deals with questions of permanence, authenticity and authorship; traditionally a way of placing buildings chronologically in history, anchor them to one particular site, defining their outer parameters and naming their authors. Mass-produced architecture challenges this: it belongs everywhere and nowhere; it is temporal, it can be assembled, disassembled and reassembled over time, it is by nature limitless as it can be repeated and expanded, and it has multiple authors. The studio will investigate how something generic can become specific – and maybe even poetic? – when skilfully used and responding to distinctive requirements.


There is an urgent demand for new ideas on how to restore, reuse and transform the great number of prefabricated structures built in the 20th century. The studio encourages the students to develop new methods of preservation through an experimental practice involving survey procedures, writing, drawing, physical model building, computer modelling, representational techniques etc. The goal is then to develop comprehensive and advanced architectural solutions to the studio’s given task.


It will be a twofold semester:

In the first phase the students will investigate a number of significant prefabricated structures and acquire knowledge of their history, their characteristics and potential for reuse, transformation and preservation. The students will gather historical documents, produce drawings and build models of the buildings.


In the second and most extensive phase, each student will develop an individual architectural project based on the research conducted in phase 1. The studio encourages the students to pursue diverse approaches, from speculative experiments to concrete investigations of building engineering physics, materials, structure etc.


There will be a lecture and film series running through the whole semester on the history of mass production and prefabrication, its cultural dissemination and popularity, on materials and structural systems and on contemporary preservation strategies.


Excursion: to be confirmed

Teachers: Erik Langdalen and Ingrid Dobloug Roede


The students shall acquire extensive knowledge of the history, the technology and the spatial potential of mass-produced and prefabricated architecture. They will be introduced to the history and the contemporary discourse of preservation, and learn how to apply this knowledge in the development of a concrete architectural project. The students will learn methods and acquire skills how to survey, value-assess and intervene with existing architecture and prepare them for a professional practice within reuse, transformation and preservation.  

Praktisk organisering og arbeidsmåter

Teaching will mainly be through weekly desk-crits and monthly pin-ups in addition to the lecture-series running throughout the whole semester. Studio-meetings will be held on a regular basis for discussions and comments.

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