Field Station: Shifting Borders

Field Station Studio is a local node in the international Field Station network, proposing new models for architecture in relation to the anthropocene, the technosphere and related contemporary phenomena. We propose an explorative architectural design studio, aiming to investigate the potential of architecture as a medium to disrupt, explore and raise questions (rather than solving them).
The studio is structured around two exercises, introduced by a Field Trip, connected by a workshop on location in W7 and presented during a public exhibition in W14. The first part is a speculative exploration of the expanded field of architecture, mapping a selection of urgent subject matters (fields) related to the theme of shifting borders. During the second exercise, these analysed fields will be translated to a series of concrete design proposals (stations), demonstrating their relationship with architecture.

Expanded Field. Architecture cannot be reduced to just its constellation of material elements and is subject to environmental, technologic and cultural changes. The built reality is only one layer that makes up the environments we inhabit, it is embedded within other material and immaterial layers (or fields), and it contributes to larger economic, material, environmental, informational and infrastructural systems. Within the Field Station Studio, we see the expanded field, this constantly changing, layered and hybrid environment as the context that architecture operates in, as the medium and content architecture engages with.

Shifting Borders. This edition of Field Station Studio focusses on the omnipresent theme of Shifting Borders. Geopolitical borders are under pressure and shifting between dissolution or reinforcement. Our environment is increasingly mediated through digital technologies, eroding borders between virtual and physical, while simultaneously giving rise to new geographies and introducing new borders. Technological progress, social shifts, ecological urgencies and global concerns are raising public debates about ethical boundaries.  The dichotomies that are at the basis of architecture as a discipline are collapsing: there is no clear distinction anymore between nature and culture, between environment and building, between interior and exterior, between digital and material, between mediated and bodily experience. These issues have the potential of rethinking and shifting our modes of operation and as architects we design embedded in this expanded field.

Alternative Practice. Field Station Studio operates as a collective practice, breaking out of the confines of academic architectural education. As part of an international network, the studio will travel and actively seek encounters with thinkers, makers, hackers and artists exploring the boundaries of architecture. The studio will have sessions and meetings in Gent, Antwerp, Berlin and Brussels to meet alternative practices & different ways of thinking, to gather & share information and to discuss & exchange ideas.

Field Trip. The studio will start with a study trip to the former NSA Field Station on Teufelsberg in Berlin. This abandoned structure is currently the headquarters of Field Station Berlin. During our visit we will meet and exchange information with local actors and explore the architectural, historical and technological potential of the NSA Field Station site, through a hands-on sensing and mapping workshop.

Field Guide. On our field trip & meetings and through lectures, screenings & literature, several potential fields will be introduced. During the first exercise these fields & themes will be mapped & investigated by small groups of students with shared interests. This work results in a guide that documents a set of tools, strategies and media to engage with the questions of shifting borders in relation to the expanded field & architecture. The different guides will be compiled and edited into a collective Field Guide, finalised, presented and discussed during the workshop in W7.

Field Station. For the second part of the studio, students will develop an individual design exercise

That results in an architectural proposal for a specific site and context. The design should demonstrate how architecture interacts with a field of choice and it’s border conditions explored in the field guides. The scale, scope, format and media of this proposal are free, students are encouraged to develop their own vision, interest and ways of working.

The output will consist of a Field Guide, a publication developed as a collective, next to the individual design proposals for the Field Station presented in a public exhibition.


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