Delft Lectures on Architectural Design: 2015 / 2016

    Susanne Komossa, TU Delft, Architecture and the Built Environment; Esther Gramsbergen, TU Delft, Architecture and the Built Environment; Eireen Schreurs, TU Delft, Architecture and the Built Environment; Lidwine Spoormans, TU Delft, Architecture and the Built Environment; Hans Teerds, TU Delft, Architecture and the Built Environment


The idea of this lecture series is to enable various full professors, associate professors and researchers to present the main positions held in architectural design within the faculty’s master track in architecture. Apart from their collaboration in the actual lectures, which are organised as little debates, the Faculty staff each has handed in a contribution to this reader, in which the lecturers upon both contemporary key problems within the field of architecture, and their sources of inspiration and illumination.

Hence, the audience and target group of the lecture series and reader are MSc1 students. Since this student group has diverse educational backgrounds, like Bachelor students from Delft, college students, Erasmus students and International Master students from all over the world, this series offers what actually ‘forms’ the Delft Master program on architecture for both an informed and uninformed public. For the students, the series renders thus an introduction to the MSc architecture programs & design studios, which are offered by a variety of architecture chairs located within the Department of Architecture, but also at the departments of Building Technology and Urbanism. For the outside world – other architecture faculties, professional practice and interested laymen – the reader might be of interest as well, because it provides insight into the current stances of the Delft school vis-à-vis architectural design, building technology and urban design.

The introduction of the reader illuminates the way in which certain approaches to research and design evolved at the Delft Faculty of Architecture as a consequence of student revolts after 1968. It traces the roots of what today might be considered part of the ‘Delft DNA’ and as such, could be considered specific for the Delft approach to architecture if compared to other schools across Europe.

We arranged the text sequence in this reader according to the Faculty’s of Architecture and the Built Environment departments, which have been involved in the lecture series so far. At the moment these are the Department of Architecture and the Department of Architectural Engineering and Technology. Within these departments, we distinguish the chairs, headed by professors representing a specific field. So for architecture, there are six chairs: Architectural Composition & Public Building, Architecture & Dwelling, The Architecture of the Interior, Complex Projects, Methods & 8Analysis and The Why Factory. From the Department of Architectural Engineering Heritage & Architecture and Non-Standard and Interactive (by Hyperbody) are involved. For each chair you will find a short introduction addressing the chair’s main field of research and education, the position taken and methods followed. Considering that the students just enter their master education we hope this structure will help them to orient themselves and to provide insights that facilitate the choice of design studios.

The full professors, associate professors and researchers of the Delft Faculty of Architecture address in the texts that are collected in this reader key contemporary topics, investigating historical models and theoretical arguments while discussing the latest architecture projects as well prototypical cases. Moreover, diverse contributions present contemporary positions in architectural practice and theory against the background of the modern era (1750-today) as characterised by the conditions of the historical avant-garde, (post)modernity, and its various moments of crisis and critique. Through the series of articles presented here a broad range of questions and themes thus is addressed and explored.

In the academic year 2015-2016 the lectures series is composed around two key topics of the current debate on architecture. Next to lecturers from the Department of Architecture and the Department of Architectural Engineering and Technology, lecturers from the Department of Urbanism are invited. The first theme that will be addressed is ‘architecture as collective art’, which questions the role and responsibilities of the architect regarding the larger context in which projects are placed. Secondly the theme ‘architec-ture between local identity and global practice’ will be emphasised, which questions the local and global circumstances and contexts of the architectural project today.

The lecture series is organised in the form of a series of debates, which challenges the students to see the possibility of positions that could be taken within the field and how they affect the actual (design) approach to architectural projects. Both ‘sections’ first are addressed from an academic perception, by giving the floor to two more or less theory-oriented lecturers. The two subsequent lectures than offer the floor to professors who are extensively involved in design practice, to reflect the theme using their practice as exemplary.

Facilitating and stimulating the debate amongst practitioners will make students aware of the urge to reflect upon their position, taken towards the world and the role of design within it. Underneath this approach is the conviction that reflection is a necessary part of architecture: without discussion there only is ‘building’, no architecture!

Beyond these issues a few key questions can be traced in the texts in this reader as well as in the lectures:

  • Where do architects stand, why and how did they develop ‘their’ particular position and what are ‘their’ means of acting as a pro-fession/professional?
  • What kind of specific knowledge, tacit or explicit, do architects render with their research and design work?
  • What kind of methods, strategies and approaches were and are relevant, what is their history and what are the future prospects?
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