R-lab architecture, cities, utopias: Lesson Plan

Intro Session: September 1. General Course Introduction: 16:00

Course objectives introduced and open discussion with course participants.

Session 01. September 6. 17:30-19:45. Introduction of Workshop: Missing Europe: Bac and Bak

Guest Speaker: Daniel Orey, Project director, New Urban Typologies, Färgfabriken.

Session 01. readings:

Bullet Holes as Ornament

The attackers meticulously planned what to destroy and what not to destroy. Their aim was to psychologically incapacitate the inhabitants of the city. The mental targets were those structures that the people identified themselves and their culture with. Museums, libraries and squares. All gone. When the facades of a city are destroyed its face lays beyond recognition but when its heritage sites and public places are targeted, it deprives the city of its legibility, disconnecting the inhabitants from their surroundings. Still to this day, the injured city is under attack. Arna Makic, “Immortal Moments: A Jump into the Water,” in Patchwork of Narratives. pp 11.


Patchwork of Narratives: When we Enter a City We Enter a Story

Creative Director: Joachim Granit, Editor: Daniel Urey, (Stockholm, Färgfabriken, 2015)

Link to book PDF:

 Conflicting collective memories, the presence of an alien culture and, at the same time, the alienation of the non-alien from its own culture,life in two temporalities, communication and everyday life in parallel informative and linguistic spaces, a split information space, transnational mobility, simultaneous life in real and virtual territories, the impact of mass media and disinformation, controversy between global economic flows and local culture, etc.. These are topics offering a small insight into the conditions in which varied layers of Otherness emerge today in Riga. Oscars Redbergs, “Friendly Riga” in It’s Me, Riga. 2014. pp 93.

It’s Me, Riga: Urban Anticipation, Editor: Daniel Urey, (Stockholm, Färgfabriken, 2014)

Link to book PDF:



Session 02. September 20. 17:30-19:45. Pedagogies and Anti-Pedagogies: Experimental Methodologies in Research. (Codex) In this session we will review some of the major institutional approaches to architectural and design research in the post-war period. The presentation will provide an overview into a number of alternative educational models (participants can suggest other examples in related fields):

Session 02. readings: 

Donna Haraway, Simians Cyborgs and Women: the Reinvention of Nature, (London, Free Association Books, 1991)

How can feminism, political position about love and power, have anything to do with science as I described it? Feminism, I suggest, can draw from basic insight of critical theory. This starting point of critical theory–as we have learned it from Marx, the Frankfurt School and others–is that the social and economic means of human liberation are within our grasp. Nevertheless, we continue to live out relations of domination and scarcity. There is the possibility of overturning that order of things. The study of this contradiction may be applied to all our knowledge, including natural science. The critical tradition insists that we analyze relations of dominance in consciousness as well as material interests, that we see domination as a derivative of theory not nature. Donna Haraway, Chapter 2. Simians Cyborgs and Women, 1991. Pp 23.

Session 03. September 22. 17:30-19:45 A overview of Urban and City theories.

Session 03. readings:

David Grahame Shane, Recombinant Urbanism: Conception Modeling in Architecture, Urban Design, and City Theory.

In considering what makes a city, we have been building a mental model of the urban network: a complex  structure with compressed nodes of activity and areas of widespread sprawl that vary from low-rise development to the agricultural settlements which support city life. Kevin Lynch, one of the most influential theorists of urban form of the late 20th century saw urban models as an expression of city theory, an expansion of the concept of urban design.  Traditional urban design busies itself we’ve making small fragments of the city work, creating the settings for specific actors, where at city theory is “normative”—that is, it explicitly addresses the question of what a city, including its relationships to the larger urban network, should be. David Grahame Shane, Recombinant, Chapter 1, pp 27. Read Chapter 1.

Session 04. October 11. 17:30-19:45 Utopia, Documents and Fictions

Session 04. Readings:

Frederick Jameson, Archaeologies of the Future: the Desire called Utopia and other Science Fictions. (London, Verso Books, 2007)

(…) to adapt Mrs Thatcher’s famous dictum, there is no alternative to Utopia, and late capitalism seems to have no natural enemies (the religious fundamentalisms which resist American or Western imperialisms having by no means endorsed anti-capitalist positions). Yet it is not only the invincible universality of capitalism which is at issue: tirelessly undoing all the social gains made since the inception of the socialist and communist movements, repealing all the welfare measures, the safety net, the right to unionization, industrial and ecological regulatory laws, offering to privatize pensions and indeed to dismantle whatever stands in the way of the free market all over the world. What is crippling is not the presence of an enemy but rather the universal belief, not only that this tendency is irreversible, but that the historic alternatives to capitalism have been proven unviable and impossible, and that no other socioeconomic system is conceivable, let alone practically available. The Utopians not only offer to conceive of such alternate systems; Utopian form is itself a representational meditation on radical difference, radical otherness, and on the systemic nature of the social totality, to the point where one cannot imagine any fundamental change in our social existence which has not first thrown off Utopian visions like so many sparks from a comet. Frederick Jameson, Archaelogies, 2007. pp xii.

Special Sessions 05-06.  October 13-14. (all day: schedule TBA) R-Lab/Färgfabriken Seminar-Workshop: Missing Europe: Bac  and Bak

Preliminary program:

Propaganda and the Baltic City

Inclusive Design – Comparative Analysis Riga and Malmo

Shared History through Urban Planning

Is Water Heritage – the Case of Kaliningrad

Plus Performances, Film Screenings, and Talk Show.

Sessions 05-06. readings:

Charity Scribner, Requiem for Communism, (Cambridge, MIT Press, 2005)

Until recently, utopian thought offered an alternate route away from implacable historical reality., Now at the purported “end of history” when time seems to pause in the eternal present, utopia veers into the longing for History itself–for the touch of the real that postindustrial virtualization threatens to subsume. 19th-century modes of production that were long considered violent and destructive return to us as the object of nostalgic interest. At the same time, much recent art and literature manifest the desire not only to read collect ways of living and working that were imagined to be possible under the rubric of the socialist alternative, but also to resuscitate the principle of hope that inspired much of the last century’s social and cultural production. The aesthetic response to the socialist crisis ranges from sober, historical description to melancholic fixation; from brutal erasure to the painful work of mourning: and from dismissal to nostalgic longing.  Charity Scribner, Requiem, pp 9-10


Vladimir Tismaneanu ed., The Revolutions of 1989: Rewriting Histories

London, Routledge,1999

Contributors include: Katherine Verdery, Leszek Kolakowski, Timothy Garton Ash, Tony Judt, Adam Michnik, Mircea Mihāies

Euphoria is always brief, whatever causes it. The “post-communist” euphoria is over and the premonitions of imminent dangers are mounting. The monster is dying in its own monstrous way. Shall we see another monster take its place, a series of bloody struggles between its various remnants? How many new countries will emerge from the chaos and what will they be: democratic, dictatorial, national-fascist, clerical, civilised, barbaric? We’ll millions of refugees, escaping from famine and war, stampede into Europe? Every day newspapers provide gloomy warnings; many are written by knowledgeable people. The only thing we know for certain: nothing is certain; nothing is impossible. Leszek Kolakowski, “Amidst Moving Ruins” The Revolutions, 1999. pp 51. Originally printed in Daedalus, “the Exit from Communism” (Spring 1992) 

Special Sessions 07-08.  November 1-3. (Field Trip to Mostar) R-Lab/Färgfabriken and ADA Mostar. TBA.




Architectural Theory and History

R-Lab/ Architecture/ Cities/ Utopias 2016-2017 Advanced Individual Study and Practice.

R-Lab is a one-year supplementary education, equivalent to 30 ECTS and can in part be used for credits toward a research degree. The course is aimed at postgraduate students with backgrounds in the arts, design, architecture, and urban related disciplines. Students enrolled in graduate programs may also qualify. The course also will include a series of short collectively run workshops developed in partnership with Färgfabrikin, Stockholm. A travel week to Mostar in Bosnia Herzegovina is scheduled for the Fall.


Language: English


Scope of the Course

30 credits, part time


Admission Requirements

Admission requirements for the course is a MA in art or architecture, a MA in another relevant field or the equivalent knowledge.



A selection is made based on the work samples, CV and motivating letter that forms part of the application.



The course is on an advanced level, fristående kurs  (“fristående kurs” means it is not part of a program leading to a degree)



Course Content

The course is primarily designed for practitioners within the fields of architecture, design and the arts and who are interested in pursuing theory and practice based individual projects with a critical focus on urban and material culture. There are two components to the course: the first comprises regular lectures, group sessions and individual consultations with the professor designed to help advance each students’ individual research project. The second comprises a series of collective workshops designed to test concepts developed for institutional settings and public environments: this year the R-Lab institutional partner is Färgfabriken.


The course’s overall goal is to develop a singular study project focusing on today’s most urgent social, political and environmental issues. An important objective for the course is to transform individual research projects into display objects or media productions expressly developed for public presentation, through the making of models, objects and installations, the choreographing of performances, the use of alternative media—including  video, audio, and social media, the design and production of digital and experimental publications as well as mixed media constructs. Consideration should be also given to the spaces of exhibition and their relationship to the public/private realm.


Individual case-studies should be closely associated with a specific physical, urban or material context, including specific neighborhoods (urban, or peripheral), or specific landscapes (industrial archaeological, informal settlements, entropic regions or abandoned territories), or material based (part of the human artifactual or object environment). These case studies can be drawn from a range of local or global locations.



Course Schedule

Classes will be scheduled for evening hours, appr. 17.00–19.30 on Tuesdays and Thursdays the first two weeks of every month. To complete their projects for the final exhibition, students can make use of the RIA laboratories (wood, metals, multi-media, printmaking, 3D lab, mechanical). Due to limited enrolment, students need to apply and be accepted into RIA art and multi-media workshops, and attend training sessions as required. Access to these workshops are generally limited to daytime. Students must seek approval by the course professor.


International Workshop:

The R-Lab international workshop the Missing Europe: Baltic and Balkan has been developed specifically for R-Lab in partnership with Färgfabriken Stockholm.  This coming academic year’s focus will be on the study of cities divided by ethnicity, ideology and conflict.  The workshop will include an organized visit to Mostar, Bosnia Herzegovina, coordinated with the Center for Architecture Dialogue And Art – (ADA) in Mostar. The projects developed in cooperation with the ADA  will be conducted in Mostar and will presented in Stockholm at the Färgfabriken. The project is a collective multi-disciplinary production bringing students, faculty, urban experts and other professional practitioners together to explore new forms of creative collaboration within the urban context.



Intended Learning Outcomes

After the completion of the course, the student should be able to:


  • understand and critically employ diverse critical methodology of research within architectural theory and history focusing on cities, architecture and design


  • show the ability to use different types of media to present complex concepts through different forms of creative visual expression for public display.


  • communicate and publicly present individual research projects, in different formats and media




Course structure/ modules

The part time course is divided in two modules during one academic year:


Course, 1 15 hp           (fall semester)

Course, 2 15 hp         (spring semester)


Within the 2 semester 2015-2016 two module calendar there are three fundamental phases to the course. At the end of Phase II students will be evaluated with a progress report.



The fall semester will focus on identifying a suitable long term case-study for each of the participating students. During the first semester there are also monthly talks and seminars concentrating on historical precedents, comparative readings and discussions. The semester also presents critical methodologies intended to guide the first phase of research and documentation, including methods of critical analysis, the application of hypertextual narratives, storyboards, visual and graphic analyses, mapping and diagraming techniques, as well as multi-media communications platforms and digital applications.


Spring semester is dedicated to examining different examples of research and practice, through the presentation of specific case studies, as well as regular office meetings concerning the progress of each student’s individual research projects. Most course information, including upcoming announcements, assignments, reading lists, and calendar schedules will be found on the course Blog:

(All students will be required to develop an individual blog directly linked to the R-Lab site.)



The Examination Format of the Students Study Performance

The first part of the course is examined by the course teacher ensuring that the student has developed his or her own case-study and has taken active part in the seminars and workshop.


The second part of the course is examined by the end of the academic year by a presentation of the case study in a media of the student’s choice.


To pass the course active participation in the seminars is required, as well as to present a final project and to have performed all parts in a way that fulfills the expected learning outcomes.



Pass or fail



Professor in Architectural Theory and History: Peter Lang.