Situations I & II, MSc studio in Sustainable Urban Design and Planning, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, AG2126 & AG2124 2014, 15 credits

This studio course is part of a new program in Sustainable Urban Design and Planning that spans KTH departments of Architecture and the Built Environment and Environmental Strategies Research. The studio explores processes of urbanization that are transforming landscapes and living conditions around the world. This year the studio focused on the planning and design of Årstafältet (Årsta field) a large open landscape in the Stockholm area, a remnant of the historical environmental conservation strategy 'green wedges', or connected biotopes, in Stockholm. Årstafältet is one of the few larger green fields close to the city, and over recent decades has increasingly been the subject of struggles over urban development. The studio focuses on learning about and designing in relation to the various interests, claims, activities, and citizen initiatives, besides the official planning and design processes, which characterize the Årsta situation. We compare this with Tempelhofer Feld (Tempelhof Field), which includes a former airport in Berlin planned to turn into a park with adjacent housing and mixed use programmes. Both sites show similarities: they are large open areas in big cities, they are surrounded by poorer neighbourhoods, and debates over their transformation is accompanied by urban struggles.

In this studio, students apply and develop methods for studying, representing and projecting possibilities for the sustainable planning and design of the area. Central to the studio is the development of a design project through a series of tasks. Projects involve collaborative and individual work, supported by lectures, seminars, workshops, group and individual tutorials with tutors and external consultants. The course consists of a research-led module investigating 'what is' (I) and a module developing strategic proposals for Årstafältet 'what if' (II).

Image (above)
Photo from study trip to Berlin

My role
The course is led by Meike Schalk, and we were 5 teachers responsible for the studio in which 18 students participated in part I and 16 in Part II. I participated in course planning, developing tasks, giving lectures, tutorials and assessment. I led a 2-week task on design research methods and a leading role in a 2-week task on future scenarios.

The studio runs in parallel with theoretical courses: part I develops synergies with with a course about theories of science and research methodologies, and part II relates to the course in urban economics. The studio is an opportunity for participants to apply knowledge from these courses in practice within a specific situation. In particular, we emphasize research ‘in the field’ by design and through participation. Teaching and supervision takes place during one full day a week. There was also a study-trip to Berlin with visits to stakeholder groups and architectural/planning firms relevant to Tempelhofer Feld. Deliverables include bi-weekly tasks and a major project for module I & II of the course, conducted in groups and/or individually.

The course concluded with a final critique of student projects with guest experts in May. From Sept 5-14, student projects were exhibited at Årsta Folkets Hus and course teachers were part of a panel debate with politicians about futures of socio-ecological urban planning in advance of the national election.

See also

/ Teaching / MSc Sustainable Urban Planning and Design program