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ADS5: Camping in a High-Rise

Tutors: Christopher Dyvik, Max Kahlen & Isabel Pietri


ADS5 continues to be interested in exploring the spatial qualities of buildings through an intuitive process of enquiry into form and modes of inhabitation. The studio is driven by a process of learning from buildings we like, understanding their underlying logic, proportion, materiality, composition and tectonics. This process of learning relies as much on meticulous formal analysis as it does on intuition and pure observation, free of preconceptions and an eager to reveal the unseen/essential qualities of form.

Two years ago, the first instalment of Ambiguous Architecture took place in the countryside, where a certain instability created the space for multiple readings and interpretations. In the second instalment, we focused on ‘twins’ as a device to reveal the essence of a formal order, or dis-order. This year, in the third iteration of our exploration, we will delve into the most iconic building typology – the high-rise.

Building Buildings

'The most convincing works tend to be those in which the thinking is inseparable from the doing.'
– David Salle

In 2019/20, we will embark in a design process driven by making. We will build big models at the scale of 1:10 – a scale at which you can simultaneously experience notions of structure, tectonics, form and space. The process of building these models will play a pivotal role in formulating the individual design projects. We see architectural models as a 1:1 objects, with a presence of their own, as much as a 1:10 architecture. It is in this ambiguous relationship that our intentions for space and architectural order will be born.

ADS5 – Building Buildings
ADS5 – Building Buildings


'A bedroom is a room with a bed.'
– Georges Perec

We will continue to treat the idea of ‘programme’ with skepticism, assuming that the function of a building ultimately changes at some point, leaving behind its form. Nevertheless, we need to start somewhere, so we propose to explore scenarios for temporary inhabitation ranging from living to working.

Camping might not be the first thing that crosses your mind when you set out to design a high-rise building. However, ADS5 believes there is great potential in the contrast between the permanence of mass and iconic nature of the high-rise, versus the temporary, light-weight, ad hoc and experiential notion of camping. This contradiction will be the point of departure to explore new modes of inhabitation, free of preconceptions and open to reinterpretation. The idea is not to turn the building into a campsite. Instead, we will encourage design projects that learn from the nimble mindset of the camper to develop alternative modes of inhabitation, which can last from a single day to a whole year. ‘Economy of means’, ‘lightweight’, ‘duration’, ‘flexibility’ and ‘climate control’ are only a few of a series of potential topics.    

ADS5 – Inhabitation
ADS5 – Inhabitation


Our architectural practice is driven by a process of collecting ideas for spaces, a series of images – without logic or hierarchy – that we like. For us, within this collection there is no distinction between the plan of a Palladian villa, or a still life by Wolfgang Tillmans.

We have a tendency to misread historic references, the logic of a plan, or the use of the rooms in a Palladian villa. We appropriate what we see in the image and find our own intuitive way of reading these references. It is a way of looking at things that becomes a methodology of design – a constant accumulation of fragments, details and moments.

We often start our projects with a series of those readings. Each design provides a different constellation, a reaction to the site, the climate or the character of the project.

Following this methodology, we propose a large atlas of references as the starting point for this year’s exploration of spaces and forms. This atlas will provide a source of inspiration and also challenge students to develop their own sensibility and reading. We will invite various architects and artists to join us and in conversations around some of the images from the atlas in order to hone our critical thinking.

ADS5 – Atlas
ADS5 – Atlas

Virtual Reality

As counterpart to the physical model, we will explore another reality – a virtual reality that is capable of showing aspects of the project that the physical model cannot represent. The beautiful thing about VR is its capacity to see space and landscape in the most direct and literal way, drawing the attention to a particular spatial perception. Through a series of workshops, students will learn how to translate their physical model into this digital world, how to generate landscapes and extract images and movies. A final composition of these physical models and VR movies in space will create a diptych that brings to life the architectural project.

ADS5 – Virtual Reality
ADS5 – Virtual Reality


Christopher Dyvik is a Norwegian architect and founding director of Dyvik Kahlen Architects, established in 2010. He studied at the Architectural Association School of Architecture, London, where he has also taught various workshops and Media Study courses from 2012 to 2014. Christopher is on the board of 2020 at the National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design in Oslo.

Max Kahlen is a founding director of Dyvik Kahlen Architects, a London-based practice established in 2010. He studied at Stuttgart State Academy of Art and Design and then at the Architectural Association School of Architecture, London, where he graduated with honours in 2008. In parallel to practicing architecture, Max was a tutor at the Architectural Association from 2009 to 2015, running design units in the first year, diploma school and media studies, and now leadsADS5 at the RCA.

Isabel Pietri has been a key collaborator with Dyvik Kahlen, leading their UK projects since 2015. Isabel graduated from the Architectural Association in London, receiving a RIBA Silver Medal Commendation and the Paul Davis + Partners award. She has worked with Rijke Marsh Morgan and Foster + Partners in London, and Barkow Leibinger, Berlin.

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