The Primitive Hut

Consisting of a roof and its supports, the Primitive Hut is the essence of architecture, and has always been an obsession and a fixed topos in the discipline of architecture. Built with the elements of nature – trees – it shelters the human from the inconveniences of nature, the weather. The Primitive Hut is, therefore, also an original inquiry into the relationship between man and nature.

Against the backdrop of increasing industrialization, our relation to nature has taken a turn since the 18th century – retreat back to nature! Henry David Thoreau’s Hut at the Walden Pond is part of a transcendentalist manifesto, an experiment with unique kinship to the wider romantic movements of the time.  The lineage of which led to classical modernism, defining many projects, from Le Corbusier’s green Ville Radieuse to Le Cabanon; from Frank Lloyd Wright‘s Falling Water to the Californian villas of John Lautner.  

Today, the human-nature relationship – under the pressure of climate change, scarcity of resources and the global pandemic – is particularly topical for discussion. Has the hyperdense global city become the enemy of the responsible citizen? Are current tendencies towards escapism and exit strategies sustainable? Allured by a simple, isolated life back to nature, are we now on the verge of a return to the Primitive Hut? 

In our studio we are relaunching the debate about the Primitive Hut. Using Henry David Thoreau's classic work "Walden" as a starting point for our discussion, we will (re-)visit the famous Walden Pond, "re-enact" the legendary retreat into nature, and critically reflect upon its actuality. Together, we will make radical re-interpretations of the Primitive Hut, speculating on renewed relationships between man and nature. 

The studio aims to re-examine the fundamentals of architecture, with the goal of combining historical knowledge and contemporary critical thinking. Built on the analysis of observations and contemporary texts, a program and scenario will be established as the basis for a new form of the Primitive Hut. The actual project will then be developed by working with typological references. The students will define their own location and scale of the building depending on the scenario.

This course has an irregular meeting schedule. 

Emanuel Christ will be in residence Thursday and Friday on the following days: September 9, 10, 30; October 1, 28, 29; and for final reviews.

Christoph Gantenbein will be in residence Thursday and Friday on the following days: September 30; October 1, 28, 29; November 11, 12; and for final reviews. 

The instructors will also hold class via Zoom on the following days: September 2, 3, 16, 17; October 14, 15; November 22, 23; and as needed to account for “off week” missed time.