CRAFTOPIA Exploring building cultures, Studio 1 22/23

The era of Anthropocene has set a drastic change in our environment. Lack of global perspective and stratification of modern society has led us to a realm of expertise where every labour, knowledge and actors are separate entities communicating through protocols and polarized comfort zones. By researching tools of space making and material curation we hope to move closer to understanding the social, economic and ecologic implications of our design decisions. Building cultures is our main focus through which we unravel larger systems at work and potentially create awareness and inclusion.

Craftopia explores building as a dialogue, as a social act, as a universal language that derives from the sense of each place. We dive into the specificities of a given place to understand larger systems at stake. Acting on the micro scale – site-material-detail-builder goes hand in hand with looking at the macro scale – the resource, the politics, the planet. We have learned from the rural conditions of Norrland in order to develop accessible tools and methods of architecture that can support and nurture stronger communities around common assets.

Site of Investigation
Robertsfors kommun has during 2022/2023 been our testbed for speculative future scenarios and hands-on 1:1 experiment. It is a small town that has developed around the historic mining and forestry industries. After decades of relatively calm life today it is on a verge of significant changes. New railroad line is about to be built connecting this community to larger centres of development in the region. Therefore, it is estimated that increase of population is expected as Robertsfors would become more attractive for new residents.  
Two town dams on river Rikleån are planned to be dismantled as part of the wider strategy to restore natural river basin ecosystem. It will create new spatial conditions and opportunities within the former structures of hydroelectric powerplants. These sets of conditions fascinate us. The tension between growth and de-growth. The development of human settlements and their relation to the landscape surrounding it. The old industrial heritage and the local building traditions. The optimistic technology driven view towards future living that invites architecture students for critical speculations.  

Studio Agenda and Methodology
In Fall semester we developed speculative projects in and around the two hydroelectric powerplants. UMA2 worked on compact housing prototypes for the changing landscape in and between the two dams. UMA3 worked with the powerplants themselves to re-imagine what the future public infrastructure of the growing town can be. Our studio ethos is learning by making through hands-on experiments, prototypes, model making and material investigations. To better understand the local culture and landscape we immersed and situated ourselves in the context.  
In Spring we teamed up with Sweden’s most well know pavilion builders Arknat. UMA2 became teams of designers and builders to make 3 pavilions in scale 1:1 on the banks of Rikleån. While UMA3 had the liberty ether to join the 1:1 teams and develop individual BA thesis within that framework or develop BA project on an independently chosen site, locally or globally.  

Teaching team: Toms Kokins, Joël Jouannet, Martina Karlsson and guests.  

Latest update: 2023-09-05