Reconsidering Architecture: Rotterdam Study Abroad Studio Option

In spite of 100 years of globalization, the range of architectural typologies and the common understanding of the elements of the discipline may have diminished. At the same time, a consensus is emerging about architecture\’s \”final\” typological repertoire. As control of architectural production and discourse shifts back from West to East, the Rotterdam Studio will attempt to reassess the repertoire and the tools available to architects everywhere. The studio will invent ways of communicating this new-found knowledge in the form of an exhibition.

The research consists of three interconnected topics:

  • Elements: The studio will generate an inventory of the individual components of architecture through history – an effort that is already underway in recent studies on the history of the corridor, the false ceiling, and the fluorescent tube, for example. The studio will expand this list to a full repertoire.
  • Typology: Zooming out, the studio has the intention of making a global inventory of the few remaining building typologies in order to produce a common understanding of the available repertoire for architects today. Students will study the ways in which typological richness has been eroded over time, leaving us only the extremes: very flat or very vertical buildings.
  • Globalization: The inventories will be underpinned by political and historical study. It is widely accepted that the number of available architectural languages has shrunk drastically in the past 100 years. However, the transition from a specific language to an international language is a richer process than we typically recognize, involving significant encounters and influences between cultures. The reconstruction of this history, taking in the period 1918 to the present day, will try to uncover within globalization the unique features that could be cultivated by individual cultures in the coming period of international collaboration.

While these three areas of research constitute a long-term effort to produce knowledge about the (once) existing, the production of the exhibition will be a highly creative effort at communication, involving collaboration with graphic designers, exhibition designers, and other disciplines.

The work of the Rotterdam studio will be done in the form of a seminar, forcing a regular rhythm of productivity on the entire team. At the end of the first three months, the product of the studio will primarily be knowledge, and the beginnings of exhibition concepts that can be developed by later waves of students – and by the originators, since continuity in this ongoing project is welcome.