Critical Mass: Mass made units / EAST


Event details

Date 01.06.2022 09:0017:30  
Speaker Sarah Nichols, Lieven Nijs, Jo Taillieu
Category Conferences - Seminars
Event Language English

Coming from last semester's topic of Natural Stone, over this spring students have been focusing on a more artificially shaped construction element: Mass made units, like bricks and blocks.
Keeping in mind the quarry and factory visits in Domodossola and its predominant, local construction methods of stone buildings, from dry-stacked rural houses to more elaborated, precisely cut architecture, Mass Made Units is aimed to translate the understanding of this knowledge in more responsible use of material and construction in building with bricks, blocks and any other mass produced, same- or similar-shaped units.
The topic is tackled from multiple angles, no idea is too naive or approach too mundane - everything can and will be used as an staring point: A building as a kiln with vernacular on site produced and burned bricks, as displayed in Anupama Kundoo`s architectural work, is as much a field of interest as AMUNT`s thermal single leaf pumice wall construction, making glued and hard dismantable composite-wall-systems obsolete. Additionally visits to TERRABLOC display how little machinery and energy is needed to create a new vision for constructive build units.
The following three tasks were laid out to investigate the subject:
Massively relevant investigates the spatial - structural order and quality of relevant historic or contemporary architecture. Students were asked to graphically evaluate ground floor, section and construction detail of a built architectonic reference, while investigating and interpreting the found responsable material and construction strategies.
Critical Reading tackles a list of known essays and books about the use and value of masonry.  Knowledge and experience increases through reading, helping to get familiar with both technical and theoretical building vocabulary and broadening and facilitating a more productive and precise discussion. Even ever so small input or fresh thought could open up new perspectives and help find better solutions.
Composing Units is the final design exercise of the semester. The aim is to design a housing unit on the top of a massive Bunker along the Promenthouse Line.
The Promenthouse Line is a trail of defenses that is part of the so-called border fortifications of Switzerland. It is the westernmost line of the former Swiss defense system, which extends in an arc from Sargans over the Limmat, the Rhine and the Jura chain to the Versoix. The extremity of this, reaching the shores of the Lac Léman, is represented by the Toblerone trail. Holding on to a vision towards a much more circular use of the existing resources in the territory, made us decide to settle down on this historical trace by reusing the mass of the Bunkers. One, situated in a more urban context versus one in a rural area next to the lake.
 The choice of how to use and integrate this resource is dependent on the concept and its constructive and aesthetic choice of units.
The new infrastructure has to accommodate a minimum of 12 inhabitants. In order to tackle the theme of how a space is inhabited and how the question of public versus private in a housing project is influencing the use and design of it, only one of the functions will have a level of privacy, while the other ones need to be shared: Sleeping, cooking, sanitary facilities, cultural activities.
Spatial qualities, material choice and correlated sustainable actions are important factors to integrate in the design process.

Studio EAST thanks all our speakers for this semester's conference and everybody who took part in the study trip and site or factory visits and juries: Alia Bengana, Yves Dreier, Rodrigo Fernandez & Laurent de Wurstemberger, Roger Tudó Galí, Anupama Kundoo, Elisabeth Luzzi & the TFL-Team, Björn Martenson, Nicolas Memain, Susanne Mühlhaus, Sarah Nichols, Lieven Nijs, Jo Taillieu, Baukje Trenning.
Join us for this event on Wednesday 01.06.2022 from 9:00h-18:00h at our ateliers in Triaudes (TRIC 7.10)

Practical information

  • General public
  • Free


  • Martin Fröhlich - Studio EAST


  • Clemens Waldhart

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