Thursday, 20 September 2012

STORIES OF HOUSES Reality: ordinary life can make extraordinary architecture


Reality: ordinary life can make extraordinary architecture

Collaborative work between Carleton University and University of Alicante (SPAIN)

The course is built around the series of articles, “Stories of Houses”, as a starting point, elaborating a deconstruction of the examples. We can all learn from dwellings analyzed: both the clients when they are thinking about building a house, and the architects to understand and value the life of the clients.

Part One: 10th of September to 19th of October 2012. Classes: M/W/F from 13:30 to 17:30 (11 Canadian students). Classes: Fridays from 16:30 to 20:30 in Alicante University (Spanish time).
During this period, the students analyze the concepts of the houses and find connections with cultural themes, which lead them to design an addition to them.
Take on a path around the following public interest:
- Detect new social patterns and organization by linking production with consumption, acknowledging how the different articles are built up, from the primary material to the final product.

The way to approach reality during the course encourages different modes of dealing with it. At the same time, certain kind of expectation builds up, leading to an experience of emotional impact in order to design the final work driven forward by emotional memory.  
- Skills of analyzing and deconstructing a text.
- Identify a culture concept in a dwelling.
- Draw that concept through an action/event within the dwelling.
- Ability to develop an idea through different techniques, scales and materials.
- Gain skills to work in a team on an international level. Use shared drawings and videoconferences.

The Students in Canada start the course a week before the students in Alicante (Presentation of the course 17/09/2012). Working teams in Carleton University will be formed during the first week of classes.
Professor PhD Art Historian, Halldóra Arnardóttir. (Email:
At the end of the period (19/10/2012), an exhibition will be organized together with the Spanish students, taking place in Ottawa and in Alicante.

• EVALUATION: It is continuous, a valuation of the projects every fortnight, carried out by the professor as well as fellow students.

Further reading: selected by the student to complete the Story of a House that s/he has chosen, including information about the architect author and Cultural Concept to be developed.



1 - M10/09/12 - Presentation by Halldóra Arnardóttir– SEMINAR ROOM
- Lecture on WEBLOG Stories of Houses (work with Reality: ordinary life can make extraordinary architecture)
- Explanation of the course: working in teams of 5 (2 Canadians + 3 Spanish at Alicante University)
- Homework: Read attentively, 7 STORIES OF HOUSES and analyse their drawings.

2 - W12/09/12 - Seminar/Debate1 – CENTRAL SPACE
- Explanation of the houses and debate 1
Homework: Read attentively, 7 STORIES OF HOUSES, and analyse their drawings.
Aims: To get to know the students’ background + to understand the essence behind a house. It is built for a particular family/couple, yet can be understood in collective terms. Work from within culture.
Techniques: Deconstructing a text (vocabulary)

3 - F14/09/12 - Seminar/Debate2
- Explanation of the houses and debate 2
- Groups of 2: Find a Canadian partner interested in 2 Stories of Houses on 2 concepts behind the house that can be associated to society or social issues.
Homework: Preparation of Script for Video Presentation to the Spanish students.
Aims: To get to know the students’ background + to understand the essence of a house. It is built for a particular family/couple, yet can be understood in collective terms. Work from within culture.
Techniques: Deconstructing a text (vocabulary)


4 - M17/09/12 - Preparation of Video Presentation – SEMINAR ROOM
- Lecture: The house: collectionism – contextual space (pre-existing environment), objects evoking memories.
Italianità- national identity and gaining recognition abroad: how do you promote yourself?
The value of communication and how you communicate.
Video: Ettore Sottsass Alessi. (The trip + the value one gives to an object)
- Explanation of the first script: Each student explains the criterion of his choice.
- Make a script for the video:
A visual presentation of “you” as part of a collective: to talk in plural. “To go out of your body” and see you from another viewpoint. Explain the criterion of choosing the 2 houses in the series – what concept has interested them and why.
- Mount a weblog where exercises and students’ work will be introduced and commented upon: A common platform for the class – Canadian/Spanish collaboration.
- Homework: Each group of 2 students, who will be working together, records a video for the 7 minutes.
Aims: Be aware of the value of communication and how you present things to your “client”. Gain skills to create arguments: pros and contra. Criticise with criterion, not because “I like it or not”.
Techniques: video recording - communication skills - new technologies – weblog + google docs.

5 - W19/09/12 - Each student presents his/her first version of the video in the weblog  – SEMINAR ROOM
-CRIT: The video.
– How to address the Spanish students, language + bodily expressions, reflection on social issues whether they could be the same in the two different countries.
FILM: Lars von Tier’s Five Obstructions.
- Debate: The value of changing techniques / formats within the same project, gain another perspective / viewpoint: To get a distance and contrast the issue with another focal point.
- Homework: REMAKE the video with a new technique in order to communicate differently. This should be in line with the film.
Aims: Learn about the value of making different versions to the same project.
Techniques: Video recording + communication skills.

- Pit Lecture: Beyond Architecture
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM (Cancelled. New date 26th September at 12:30)

6 - F21/09/12 - Presentation of Video Remake – SEMINAR ROOM
- Present the REMAKE and place in the weblog for the Spanish Students.
- Each group starts working with the Story and its concept: analyzing the house and DRAWING the concept, the ESSENCE the house. – From the story of the clients that the architect works on and influences the result of the house.
 = An action, textures, situation…
- Homework: Contact your future Spanish members of the team and draw the concept. EVENT: View the videos from Spain: partners located. Make contacts.
- Videoconference with the class in Alicante.
- Coordinating the process of working between the two countries: i.e. deadlines, presentations in the weblog, feedback exchange.


– Talk: Kandinsky’s Point and line to plane.
- List the groups of Spanish/Canadian students.
- Start Drawing of the Concept. Initial CRIT.
- A debate in class and an exchange of ideas: Although each student has selected a story the exercise is carried out in a group. Each group presents therefore two Stories. The aim is to work in the class, through skype with the Spanish students, if possible.
Aims: The student gains confidence in working with unknown partners abroad and establishes multidisciplinary relationships.
Techniques: drawing

8 - W26/09/12 - Work in process - STUDIO

- Homework: NEW EXERCISE: Appendix (Project and text of the new End): Write the text of the new end. Story completed by extending it, changing the end, describe what has happened since the Story was written 10 years ago, what if…
Aims: Communication skills, using an easy language as in story telling.
Techniques: Narration/rhetoric.


10 - M01/10/12 - Text
Lecture: House of the Ambassador in Berlin – SEMINAR ROOM
CRIT - Text of the new end.
Homework: Drawing an action + its transformation of the house.
Aims: After identifying a concept, the student is able to translate it into a drawing.
Techniques: Drawing – a movement

11 - W03/10/12 – Action - STUDIO
– Lecture: Teddy house by Andrés Jacque.
- CRIT of the drawing of the action.
Homework: Make a MODEL (opposed to a maquette) of a detail + its transformation of the house. “Model” refers to a working model, to test things how they work or if they work.
Aims: After identifying a concept, the student is able to translate it into a drawing.
Techniques: Drawing

12 - F05/10/12 – Model - STUDIO
- Lecture: Theo Jansen: Animaris of the beach. (
- CRIT of the model of detail.
Homework: Section of the action in the finished house


13 - M08/10/12 - STUDIO
- CRIT of the Section of the action in the finished house
- Lecture: From the exhibition in Berlin on Koolhaas’s studio
Homework: Model of the finished house

14 - W10/10/12 - STUDIO
- CRIT of the Model of the finished house
Homework: Drawing of the finished house (free view)

15 - F12/10/12 - STUDIO
- CRIT of the Drawing of the finished house (free view)
Homework: final text


16 - M15/10/12 - Format of the exhibition. TEXT – SEMINAR ROOM
- Define what kind of technique of communication to use, format and materials. (I.e. a short starting where the narrator starts: “Once upon a time…”, cartoon, “beautiful” drawings…)
- Coordinate the preparation of the exhibition of this stage, the last day of class 19th of October.
Techniques: communication skills.

17 - W17/10/12 - Preparation Exhibition – SEMINAR ROOM
- Present the presentation for the exhibition and explain. Emphasise the collaboration with the Spanish students.
- Submission to the weblog of Stories of Houses.
Aims: Evaluate the skills and process of working together in a team of two different countries.
Techniques: New Technologies – teamwork within the same drawing

18 - F19/10/12 - EVENT. Exhibition + Final Crit: Drawings + Text = Appendix to the Stories of Houses
Professor Halldóra Arnardóttir