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1. ReinhardMucha, Mutterseelenaillein#3,1979-1989-1991-2009

Studio Brief

This year ADSO will focus on the development of “installative spatial environments,” which are systematic narratives about ongoing change. These environments, or installations, will act as as a pictorial stage, or speculative scenography, for the particular themes of change we will engage with in the individual projects.

The studio will thus continue with its autobiographical approach, its pre-occupation with change and build further on the research of the past 3 years. At the centre of the studio's program remains biologist Jakob Von Uexküll's 1907 theory of the “Umwelt” which formulates that every living organism actively creates a highly unique and self-centered “image” or “model” of the world it inhabits. This mental image or model merely constitutes a partial, incomplete and subjective representation of reality. Through an ongoing and interactive process of communication and feedback-loops all living organisms constitute their own “Umwelt” or “model” of the world. Umwelt theory states that the mind and the world of every living organism are inseparable, because it is the mind that interprets the world for the organism. Consequently, the Umwelten of different organisms in one living environment will differ, which follows the individuality and uniqueness of the history of every single organism. This theory hereby states that in every environment there are as many “Umwelten” as there are living organisms. The theory challenges our common notion of reality; it is no longer considered as that external “objective” condition which can be detached from all the organisms living in it, rather, is reformulated as an internal and subjective condition exclusively resulting from the organism's individual perception. The Umwelt thus constitutes reality as it is perceived by the individual living organism, it is by nature non-detachable from its subject and autobiographical in every sense.

ADSO wishes to explore this concept of Umwelt as a spatial category which challenges our notions of architecture and space and which demands new formats of representation using multiple combinations of different audiovisual, scenographic, linguistic or performative media. We will explore the concept of the Umwelt by introducing a similar more tangible concept; the “environment” and activate it as a pictorial stage. We refer with “environment” to the artistic practices of installation and performance art that originated in the sixties. It can be defined as a coherent spatial system which communicates a partial and subjective view of the world through the establishment of its' own codes and protocols of experience. Similarly to Umwelt or to environment, is an active process that constitutes a discursive model for both existing and possible worlds, and hereby offers us a platform for both observative and speculative design practice.

2. heidi-bucher, metamorphoses -hautraum-1987

ADSO engages with the narrative and discursive capacities of architectural space in relation to art, photography, film, installation, scenography, and performance. The studio systematically puts the image and its construction process at the core of its research and explores the hybrid use of both analogue (models, drawings, printed media, collages, objects) and digital representational techniques (photo, film, rendering & animation). This approach displays strong affinities with art practice and consequently responds to the evolution of our daily living environments into multi-spaces in which the physical and digital are strongly merging into a more complex, interconnected, and associative experience of space. The studio fundamentally focuses on research by practice, through transdisciplinary experimentation, offering scopes in both architectural, artistic, and performative fields of work. We run the studio as an artist collective; a group of individuals each developing their own trajectory through pro-active and tuned in coaching. Every student is intensively guided into the development of their practice and personal discourse on a longer term. As a result, the studio’s projects display a diverse body of work, offering a multitude of unique perspectives on the contemporary world we live in. Every year, the studio constitutes another temporary collective, it emerges from our collective dynamic, and so does its organization, as we discuss and organize the studio together. However, guided by a theoretical framework, building progressively the body of work of the studio, a continuous, ongoing exploration and critique of what life is in our times. The studio deliberately embraces change, conflict, instability, and ambiguity as a basis for its methodological approach. We agree with catastrophists in that, catastrophes invoke ideas of destruction but also of renewal, of the deepening of dominating forces, but the emergence of new ones. At the core of ADSO's general framework lies the study of catastrophe as a force by which all preconceptions about the architectural discipline and its practice are reviewed, a suspension we find to particularly question the discipline's positive drive for “progress.” Negativity or skepticism become instrumental as they compel us to suspend our beliefs and provoke us to engage with alternatives for the usual course of things. As the etymology of the word, catastrophe casts a conflicting set of meanings, its compelling potential is set in place. Commonly used to refer to disaster or calamity, the word can also denote 'denouement', in the mid-16th century definition of the word, stemming from the old Greek katastrophē; meaning the sudden change or overturning of events in the plot of a play. In the context of everydayness, catastrophe simply becomes that event which leads to sudden or radical change. It can thus be seen as an unavoidable and integral part of life, as a catalyst device which outcome is the reversal of what was expected. Through its conflictual and disruptive nature, everyday catastrophe thus reveals and unpacks the borderlines between the expected and the unexpected, the normal and the abnormal, between the acceptable and the unacceptable, between comfort and discomfort, between progress and throw back. Catastrophes undoubtedly challenge our prevailing value-systems and in doing so present us with an opportunity to face change in a more radical way. During 2022-2023 the studio will use the concepts of Umwelt and Environment as its' elementary devices to explore this change. The environment is put forward as a pictorial stage which narrates the shifts in how we perceive, experience, construct and represent the world that surrounds us. As the environment constitutes a basic spatial system of enclosure it offers a comprehensible basis from which broader reflections about processes of change can be directed.

3. Richard Venlet A Museum for a small city 2013
5. Pierre Huyghe L’Expédition Scintillante, A Musical Snow rain fog, Kunsthaus, Bregenz, 2002
6. Pierre Huyghe - After a Life Ahead - Skulptürprojekte Munster 2017
8. Olafur_Eliasson_Riverbed_2014

Exploring the Umwelt – Staging Environments as a Pictorial Stage

9. Steve Salembier - Babel - 2020

4 Experimental Exercises

ADSO will start the year with a series of 4 comprehensive exercises. Parallel to Steve Salembier's artistic practice and within the developing framework of his performative work, ADSO will start the year with a series of exercises in which all students will be introduced in working with hybrid techniques of representation combining the use of found footage, printed media, collages, drawing, model making, photography, video and rendering. Within these exercises every student will gradually design and construct a set of thematic environments depicting a series of 'charged' spaces through which a particular aspect of ongoing changes is being staged and narrated. The themes for these environments will be derived from a first exercise in which we attempt to represent our personal umwelt focusing on specific aspects of change that are affecting or triggering us personally. The extensive overall experimentation with this process of image making will guide students into developing their own toolbox and set out themes as the basis for their project in term 2 and 3. The 4 exercises will culminate into the studio's live project; a collaborative workshop with 20 students of the KU Leuven in Belgium framed within the preparations of Middelheim's planned Biennial “common grounds' and culminating in a presentation moment at the Middelheim sculpture park in Antwerp.

Art Seminars

A series of lectures will deal with the representation of space in art practice, with the urgency of the Umwelt-theory in art practice and with the concept of “environments” in installation and performance art. These lectures will be given by Louis Philippe Van Eeckhoutte, an international art expert, advisor and curator. A first chapter of the lectures will offer a comprehensive evolution of space within the development of art starting off in the renaissance leading up to today. This evolution will illustrate the gradual spatialisation of art. A second part of the lecture-series will zoom in on significant artistic practices in which architectural space plays an important role; Gregor Schneider, Thomas Demand, Pierre Huyghe, Thomas Schutte, Harald Klingelhöller, Reinhard Mucha, etc. A third part of the series will zoom in on significant exhibitions in which space has been the protagonist such as Documenta, Skulptur Projekte Münster or Chambres d'Amis.

Representation as Speculation: The Environment as a Project

From the first explorations in the group exercises, we will then progress towards an actual project, by clearly formulating a personal entry into the thematics of the studio. Through an intensive workshop all students will individually define their specific theme and hereby conceptualise their project for an environment or a series of environments. This speculative workshop will serve as a basis of a project definition, a highly specific angle by which every individual student will proceed his/her research project. Within these topics of research we will then work further on the construction of images activating the knowledge and experience developed in term 01. In depth tutoring will focus on both the further elaboration of the conceptual frameworks, the formats and media by which the projects are to be conceived as on the process of image making (framing, perspective, composition, seriation, detailing, lighting, photographic techniques, video editing, etc).

The Project as Trajectory: Theory as Making, Theory as Practice

Term three will focus on production of your project, with an emphasis on technical studies for the Year 01, to mature techniques of representation, and to consolidation of the arguments established in the design strategy document for the Y2 students.

Field Trip

In relation to the studio's live project, we are planning a field trip to the Middelheim Sculpture park in Antwerp Belgium. There we will have an exchange workshop with KU Leuven students framed within the park's upcoming Biennial “Common Grounds” and we will also present our ongoing work within the amazing setting of Renaet Braem's 1963 exhibition pavilion.

11. Rachel Croning Windows 2021
10. Paige Stapleton Fata Morgana in Reverse 2021

Steve Salembier studied architecture at the Henry van de Velde Institute in Antwerp, he graduated in 2000 and worked for a long time as an architect within the office of Stéphane Beel & Lieven Achtergael in Ghent. In addition to his practice as an architect, he taught architectural design at the Henry van de Velde Institute in Antwerp. By 2014, he left architecture as he had developed a personal artistic practice. In that same year he realized his frst major performance . Bildraum won the Big in Belgium Award at Theater aan Zee in 2015 and in 2016 the Total Theater Award at the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh.

Subsequently Atelier Bildraum was invited to work as artist in residence at LOD muziektheater; an internationally renowned production house for musical theatre. Since then Steve has developed several major projects within the context of this house; in between violet & green (2017), refector (2018), i c o n (2019) and babel(2020). All the work is currently been shown both nationally and internationally and new work is in development.

Isabel Pietri has been a key collaborator with Dyvik Kahlen, leading their UK projects since 2015. She has previously worked on major regeneration areas across London during her time at de Rijke Marsh Morgan as an Associate and core member of their residential design team. Previous experience includes work at Foster + Partners and Barkow Leibinger in Berlin, as well as construction workshops in concrete, slate and japanese joinery. Isabel graduated from the Architectural Association in London, receiving an RIBA Silver Medal Commendation and the Paul Davis + Partners award for her thesis project ‘Mies Immersion’, a mathematically derived underground archive exploring the legacy of Mies van der Rohe. Isabel teached ADS5 with Christopher Dyvik and Max Kahlen on the theme of Ambiguous Architecture. She has been a guest critic at Cambridge University, Liverpool University School of Architecture and the Architectural Association.

Louis-Philippe Van Eeckhoutte (1985, Roeselare, BE) is a curator and art critic. He is currently director at Dependance gallery in Brussels Belgium. In the early 2010s he lived in New York, where he worked for David Zwirner, Greenspon Gallery and the Swiss Institute. From 2010 to 2018 he was director at Office Baroque in Brussels. In 2018 he was Artistic Director of the Brussels Gallery Weekend and curator of the first edition of Generation Brussels. Since 2018, he has been a curatorial advisor for the Rediscovery section at Art Brussels. In 2020 he was co-curator of the 7th edition of Currents in Z33 in Hasselt with Melanie Deboutte. He is also the founder and editor of the online interview series Drawing Room Play.


Steve Salembier is an artist, actor, director and architect. He works at the intersection of visual arts and performance and addresses both the visual in the performing arts and the performative in the visual arts. In his artistic practice, image and imagination, time and space are the main themes. In his work, image-forming is always central and it is the imagination of the viewer that invariably provides the meaning. 

Isabel Pietri oversees the Lendlease residential, leading the definition of apartment design principles for over 30,000 homes UK in the UK and is on of the Residential Subject Matter Experts. Prior Isabel was Associate at dRMM and Associate Director at Dyvik Kahlen also teaching with them at the RCA.
Louis-Philippe Van Eeckhoutte Louis-Philippe Van Eeckhoutte is an independent curator and critic based in Belgium. From 2010 to 2018 he was director at Office Baroque in Antwerp & Brussels. In 2018 he was Artistic Director of the Brussels Gallery Weekend and curator of the first edition of Generation Brussels. Since 2018 he has been the curatorial advisor for the Rediscovery section of Art Brussels. In 2020 he co-curated the 7th edition of Currents at Z33 in Hasselt.