Post-graduate course in Architecture and Urban Planning at Royal Institute of Art, Stockholm
Stuart Freedman/ Panos
The world's population is projected to reach 9 billion by 2050. An increase which will occur primarily in Asia's coastal and delta regions. These geographies contain an inherent dichotomy. By providing such fertile grounds for living beings, so many individuals are attracted to them that their advantageous biological conditions become threatened. Biodiversity vs. density? Could urbanization include other ways of interpreting the prevailing schism between nature and culture? Do human needs and urban development necessarily stand in opposition to biological diversity? Can biological processes provide clues to innovation and even inclusive development?
The French philosopher Henri Lefebvre stated in his seminal text from 1968 Le droit a la ville: »Urban life has yet to begin.« Resources.10 now starts its program Happy Grounds, in which we will search for alternative urban models and perspectives on development based on particularly advantageous breeding grounds, such as climate, topography, cultural expressions, resources, economies or social phenomena. We now look towards the west coast of India and the state of Goa with its tropical biotope and ongoing generation of a unique urbanity.
An Urban System
Goa is the state in India that has most clearly cultivated its own identity despite almost 500 years of colonialism. Goa has an almost mythical reputation for being Paradise on earth, with a biological diversity only exceeded by the Amazonian jungle. What was once a refuge for western wanderers; today Goa has become a weekend playground for Mumbai's burgeoning middle-class and a destination for Indians and charter tourists alike. At the same time Goa is experiencing an intense debate concerning its urban future. Here we find engaged activists battling market-driven building development and the consequent decimation of biological systems. Instead, these activists envision an urban system in which villages and towns intersperse with wild as well as managed landscapes, all growing into an economic, and physical whole. Included in this vision is a shift from the present major sources of income – including rice-fields and a devastating mining industry – to diversified agricultural production, I.T., biotechnology and eco-tourism. Can Goa show the way for the rest of the country in a transformation from a rural to an urban economy, thereby offering a convincing urban alternative to the mega-cities? Could Goa's biological and cultural diversity contribute to a resilient urban complex? Would such a hybrid be another way of understanding Urban life? Is the »forest city« a distant cousin to the mega-city's urban jungle?
With a foundation in the British research institute New Economic Foundation and The Happy Planet Index, Resources.10 will discuss Happiness and its potential to generate alternative concepts of development. Biodiversity, as well as the Indian society's rich simultaneity – in time and space, religiously and culturally – will also enrich our analysis. We will learn from various approaches to the idea of justice and explore how biological diversity could contribute to an inclusive development. We will probe the attraction of tourism and what relation it has to the social and physical realm. We will study the broad field of Systems in order to make urban proposals based on regional networks. In the previous program Cities and Energy, Recourses has investigated how depleted fossil resources and climate change will influence our cities and our ways of life. Now, we will broaden the scope of our research by including the term Planetary Boundaries, which is a new way of describing what resources set the limits for future development. The goal of the course is to formulate an innovative urban planning proposal for a part of the state of Goa. This proposal should contribute to the region's ongoing debate, as well as, to an international discourse on our sustainable urban futures.
During the 2009-10 study of the Indian city Pune, Recourses established working partnerships with a number of Indian architects and urban planners. We will now continue these collaborations through workshops and exchanges between Stockholm and Goa. We will work parallel with the architectural school BNCA/ Pune which will conduct a comparative study, investigating the roll of smaller cities in the neighboring state of Maharashtra. In addition, we will work with the organization URBZ, which finds itself in the midst of Goa's urban discourse through its network of activists, architects, urban planners and academics. In Sweden, we continue our ongoing working partnerships with the Stockholm Environment Institute and Stockholm Resilience Centre, as well as the department of Biological Physics at Chalmers University. With Density Design Lab in Milan we will develop our skills in the visualization of urban data. The site-specific innovation methodology of FabLab/ Tromsö will be our kick-off for the year.
The course is structured in sections each with a specific theme. We will find a foundation in relevant architectural and urban planning theories, as well as biology, philosophy, resource- and economic theory. We will discuss the term biodiversity and its urban implications. We will study current Indian architects who are shaping a national architectural agenda, as well as international names that are developing alternative perspectives on urban planning. We will explore some of modernism's lesser-traveled paths, ones in which the tropical climate informed another kind of architecture. We will investigate lifestyle patterns, innovation, food production in a local and global perspective, biomimicry and radical mapping. We meet architects, urban planners, systems thinkers, natural and social scientists, journalists, economists, anthropologists and artists in a cross-disciplinary discourse. The previous three-year program, Cities and Energy will provide a basis for further study. Underlying all aspects of the course is a focus on visualization and communication.
Resources.10 consists of three consecutive day study periods, occurring every other week. These periods are complemented with three and four weeklong workshops, spread throughout the study year. Differing fields of study structure the year. Each field will be investigated by means of lectures and seminars. The common group project will sequentially develop in short workshops that follow throughout the course of the year. Resources.10 commences week 37, 2010 and concludes week 22, 2011. Winter break is between weeks 50 and 3. The fall term will begin with a short workshop and study trip tentatively scheduled to Tromsö, Norway and the innovation-hub FabLab. A longer study, research and workshop trip to Goa and the west coast of Indian is scheduled for the spring term. The course gives 60 academic credits. The cost for study trips and reading materials is 13.000 SEK, divided into two installments. Those students who choose not to participate in the study trips will be responsible for completing an alternative assignment. The project produced during the course of the year will be exhibited in Stockholm and subsequently in a larger context in India. Those responsible for the course are professor and architect Henrietta Palmer and teacher and architect Michael Dudley. Fredric Bedoire, professor in architectural history will also participate.
Recourses.10 is looking for engaged individuals who are interested in investigating these issues and developing proposals together within a team. Applicants should be able to demonstrate design ability, or have knowledge relevant to the subject, as well as describe an idea they wish to develop pertinent to the themes presented above. You should be an architect, landscape architect, urban or regional planer, designer, engineer, or from another discipline such as; photographer, filmmaker, artist, writer, journalist or biologist – with a specific interest in architecture and urban planning issues. Applicants should have a masters degree or in the process of completing their masters thesis. The course can also be attended as a lecture series, not participating in the group project, giving 30 academic credits. These half-time students do not participate in the group project and pay actual costs for the study trips (travel costs for full-time students are partly deferred by the school). Participation of at least 70% is required to receive academic credits. An application should consist of a CV, a concise written reflection on the subject for this year, a portfolio presenting relevant works, a passport-sized photograph of the applicant, as well as an application form which can be loaded down from the website at: www.kkh.se. The application should be postmarked, or left at the school no later than the 18th of June, 2010. Those accepted will be informed the 30th of June.
Additional courses, grants and economic support
As a student at Mejan Arc at the Royal Institute of Arts, you are entitled to attend lectures held within the other courses at the school, including Architectural Restoration (theme: Conservation: Local Issues-Global Perspectives) as well as Art & Architecture (theme: Textilism), in addition to those within the Fine Arts program (for more information please see www.kkh.se). At the conclusion of each year, the school awards a number of grants based on a project application and/or individual achievement. In the beginning of the spring term, students are encouraged to apply for grants from the Research and Development in the Arts program. These applications can be based on ideas developed during the course of the study year and that the student wishes to continue exploring during the consecutive year.
Advanced Studies in Urbanism
is a forum for post-graduate education that investigates issues relevant for the general public and how they are connected to an architectural and urban discourse. MEJAN ARC offers one-year courses in three disciplines, including Architecture, Architectural Restoration and Art and Architecture, the latter conducted in conjunction with the Fine Arts department. Each course includes an extensive lecture series, which addresses the chosen theme and specific context in a comprehensive manner. Study trips are also an integral component of each curriculum. The goal of the School of Architecture is to engage society through the generation of relevant and tangible projects, as well as the creation of working networks that continue outside the academic realm. Projects that have their inception at the school often become independent platforms that continue to develop on their own.
An increasingly urban world necessitates new perspectives. The three programs share an interest in the City, but have different areas of focus – history and identity, social aspects and future urban possibilities. By utilizing methods of research and design we explore the potential of urban environments in a rapidly changing world.