A Journey Through Our World of Flows

The urban landscape of Switzerland and all the buildings that compose it can be understood as a concentration of resources. Their construction, their maintenance, their operation, and even their dismantling imply ceaselessly reaching far and wide into Swiss territory and across the globe to keep fuelling the life and growth of this built environment. Following the suggestion to reflect on ‘Enough’ and focus on plenty and limits, we propose to explore the reciprocal relationships and correspondences established within Switzerland between cities and the wide array of spaces facilitating the production or use of the fluid resources and invisible flows that serve it.

The Swiss territory is perforated by infrastructures serving the water and electricity networks, distributing heat, or processing material waste. This metabolism is ubiquitous, running in the unseen background of the city’s life and is spatially marginalized, relegated to the urban underground and fringes. Those resource flows create ripples, touching sites of extraction and production, practices of refining, transport and transformation, affecting landscapes and waters, needing reservoirs, dams, train stations, factories, highways and human skills. Anything that feeds the city here creates holes, buildings, infrastructures and myriads of impacts there.

Together, we will observe and document the sequence of spaces implied in specific resource flows, going back and forth between their points of origin, the intermediate spaces of transit or transformation they create, the city and buildings they give substance to. While taking into consideration some of the globalized implications of resource consumption, this master thesis will primarily focus on the territory of Switzerland, to allow first hand observations and visits of key locations, helping to produce situated research.

This investigation will enable you to critically reflect upon a resource flow as well as its correlated spatialities, and to take a position through the development of an architectural strategy corresponding and reacting to the resource in question and its manifold aspects. We will negotiate between the binary ideas of nature and culture, oscillating within the contemporary discourse on the environment, and its complex layers based on scientific, philosophical, spiritual and cultural approaches. We will strive to open new perspectives on these resources, crossing spatial and temporal scales, revealing the vast and surprising journeys and mobilities of our world of flows, unmasking their pasts, possible futures, and even failures, and showing them as active, and animated by a life of their own, beyond our control.

This diploma trajectory will introduce artistic methodologies to accompany and stimulate the design, using media like film, text and sound, while the projects themselves will focus on developing ‘spaces of resources’ and will investigate design questions such as: How to imagine new programs or adjusted flows for a resource trajectory? How to give visibility to resources and their narratives, exposing what is usually kept hidden? Can rethinking our relations – or correspondences – to resources through architecture, going from extractive to reciprocal, also help us renegotiate the divide between nature and culture that is consistently exacerbated by the built environment?      

Over the course of a few months, this reflection on buildings, infrastructures, and their correspondences will cultivate a broad resource literacy, serving as a substrate for master thesis projects emerging from an awareness of how our buildings and ways of life always affect the world way beyond their visible urban surroundings.

In case of questions, feel free to ask them to Géraldine Recker here
Enrolment here

In collaboration with Chair of Art in Space and Time (Prof. Rosa Barba)