Interiors Buildings Cities

  • Comiccity
    Sebastiano Serlio, the Comic City
  • Asplund_skandia_1920-tal
    Gunnar Asplund, Skandia Theatre
  • Wolfgang_20heimbach_20-_20kitchen_20interior_20-_201648
    Wolfgang Heimbach, Kitchen Interior (studio 1)
  • Allestimento_birreria_splugen_brau_castiglioni
    Giacomo Castiglioni, Birreria Splügen Bräu (studio 2)
  • Oostende_ingekleurd
    Oostende, Belgium (studio 3)
  • Teatro_del_mondo_1979_aldo_rossi
    Aldo Rossi, Theatre Del Mondo (studio 4)

Autumn 2017: MSc1 The House in the City

Please note: This is not the official TU Delft website. For official information (ECTS, course codes etc.), review the study guide or visit the website.

Design Studio: The House in the City​
Coordinator: Susanne Pietsch

MSc1 is structured as a series of parallel studios, run by a dynamic mix of practitioners and academics and collectively concerned with interpretations of a common theme, the House in the City. Understood ambiguously, as in the German Haus, the concerns of the course are not the representative monuments of culture, nor the private houses of individuals.

Instead, projects explore those buildings that stand between, housing our collective urban life and oscillating, in our consciousness, between foreground and background. Carefully wrought, spatially rich, generous and adaptable, such buildings have the capacity to evolve over time and to engage in a territory that might encompass both extended domestic and intimate public life. As discrete elements, subservient to a larger whole, they play small but significant roles in structuring urban fabric and defining urban space, simultaneously taking pleasure in the heterogeneity of the contemporary city and bringing it into order.

Through individual projects, each studio addresses how such city houses might be made, experienced and inhabited, in time and space and in response to the particularities of place. Through careful drawing and iterative making, their individual characters emerge in a welcoming interior, through a moment of figuration or in the refinement of a façade. 

This developing discussion is contextualised through an annual theme, which this year is the Festive City.

There are 4 studios:
Studio 1: Garden, Kitchen, Table
Studio 2: ‘T Koffiehuis – Kaffeehaus – Coffee house
Studio 3: The Bathhouse at the North Sea​
Studio 4: The Venetian Campo


Studio 1: Garden, Kitchen, Table
Tutors: Jan Nauta, Benjamin Filbey

Through our recent work in Dutch school design we are seeing a shift in spatial and pedagogical focus from the collective to the individual; from a traditional class-based learning environment to an increasingly fragmented condition based on individual learning paths. Digital tools such as iPads facilitate tailor-made curricular that continuously adjust based on the pupils development, with existing spatial configurations falling out of favour due to a lack in variety and flexibility. With this process of dispersal underway in primary education, alternative forms of assembly and their spatial implications within the school require re-examination. 

We have asked school boards, and ourselves, what kind of collective experiences might replace the traditional classroom. There seems to be no clear answer to this question. One ritual that straddles notions of the collective is the preparation and consumption of food. The kitchen and dining hall have never had a significant role in Dutch schooling, but current practice is under greater scrutiny as a sense grows that Dutch food policy in schools needs reform. With 1 in 7 Dutch children deemed overweight and less than 2% of 7-18 years olds consuming enough fruit and vegetables, there have been increasing calls by researchers that this public health issue should be tackled within the school. An opportunity lies here in rethinking the school’s relation to food when combined with designing a building that meets contemporary educational challenges, and the kitchen and its related spaces seem an obvious place to start.

Anticipating current desires to live healthier and understand growth and production processes we have started to speculate on a renewed role of the kitchen within this shifting pedagogical landscape. We think a focus on food could serve the school far beyond basic nutrition and nourishment. Amongst other things cooking requires teamwork, mathematical skills and an understanding of resources, while growing and harvesting food provides many opportunities for learning. The kitchen is also a stage on which cultural diversity can come to flourish, immediately familiar to all the differing users of a school. Rich in the theatrics of craft and consumption, the kitchen ritualises the meal, to a point of potentially intense collectivity.

If Semper’s hearth is one of the defining elements of architecture, how does this translate to the scale of the school? We are interested in the scenography of food; growing, preparation and consumption. How are resources displayed, what kind of hierarchy is implied and how is ritual manifested spatially? What is the value of a place to congregate, of warmth and comfort, of food preparation and nourishment, of ritual and symbolism in the increasingly tailored educational institution?

We will frame the studio around three spaces within a school context; the garden, the kitchen, and the dining table. All three have potential not just a stages for learning, but also for moments of collective endeavour, with the relationship between them providing the basis for an intervention within an existing school. Places to grow, prepare and consume food for both pupil and teacher, and the wider community.


Studio 2: ‘T Koffiehuis – Kaffeehaus – Coffee house
Tutors: Keimpke Zigterman, Daan Vulkers (unknown architects)

The Coffee house is a place for discussion, a place were literature is written, political ideas are developed, social issues are discussed and deals are closed. A democratic place that is discretely embedded in the city, but defines and can redefine society.

Coffee houses can be found all over Europe since the 17th century – in London, Amsterdam, Vienna, Venice, Prague, Budapest – and have played a continuous role in the city as places for congregation. In the Netherlands the first coffeehouses emerged at the end of the 17th century and provided a place for everybody: young and old, poor and rich, citizens, nobles and farmers. Coffee houses functioned as extended living rooms for people living in crowded apartments, as places for doing business and rooms for discussion for artists, politicians and writers, not excluding laymen. The coffeehouse was the place to hear the news and discuss it. All types of media could be found there – newspapers, pamphlets, prints, manuscripts and ballads – and all kinds of activities took place – discussions, business, games, readings, musical performances. Coffee houses formed the counterpart to taverns or pubs and coffee was seen as the antidote for drunkenness, violence and lust. It provided a catalyst for pure thought, sophistication and wit. Coffee houses existed in many forms but all shared the same formula: maximising the interaction between customers and forging a creative, convivial environment; the essence of the festive city. Examples of the coffee houses are plentiful. In Vienna, the Kaffeehaus has become an integral part of Viennese culture and this is  exemplified in the still existing coffee houses Café Griensteidl, Café Central and Café Museum – Adolf Loos – or more recently Kleines Café by Hermann Czech. In London, Jonathan’s coffee house by the Royal Exchange was the place were the first stocks and shares were traded and in Lloyd’s on Lombard Street sailors, merchants and stock-brokers gathered and initiated the insurance industry. In Amsterdam, the Koffiehuis van den Volksbond – a recently turned Rijksmonument – is a fine example of the expression of the social function of the coffee house. As a measurement against alcohol abuse the Koffiehuis van den Volksbond was initiated by factory owners and their wives as a chain of coffee houses for the laborers.

Coffee houses as places for business still exist – Starbucks can not remain unmentioned in a plea for the coffee house – but the coffee house as a place for discussion and congregation of all layers of society now seems outmoded. We would like to invite the students to reinvent the Koffiehuis of our time in a specific location in The Hague. A city were the Koffiehuis for the working class still exists as nondescript sheds by the side of the road but deserves revaluation. The relation between the coffee house and the Festive City is inherent in the nature of the coffee house and can become explicit in its relationship to the context and the city, on a location were its potential can establish itself not only in the interior and exterior expression of the building, but also in the extension of its activities into the public realm.


Studio 3: The Bathhouse at the North Sea​
Tutors: Tomas Dirrix, Anne Dessing

As a program to elaborate on the idea of the house in the city, this studio proposes a reconsideration of the bathhouse at the North Sea. As early as the 19th century the beaches and these coastal waters have been a destiny for curative and restorative vacations. Looking at this marginal land, today most of the coastal towns have turned into summer-long leisure festivals. Once grand and inviting structures that drew hundreds of bathers a day, constructed on the beach as people’s palaces, the historic Bathhouses as a type related to cure stand somewhat confused at our Northern waters. 

The economy of the Bathing towns are largely dependent upon tourism, an industry that is as festive as it is seasonal. The projects will have to actively engage with these temporal aspects of seasons and climate / weather. Projects could represent a north that does not escape from itself by faking the south, by deluding itself about its climate, by making believe that it’s somewhere where it’s not. 

Instead students are encouraged to think of a specifically designed building for the North Sea. Projects could be informed by the tradition of the Nordic countries of bathing in the Baltic-sea and the architectural language deployed for it. An other source of inspiration are the seminal pools of Alvaro Siza shaping a place for bathing within the roughness of the Atlantic Ocean.

The studio seeks to create a typology conscious of its partial connotation of the ‘house’. The house-type as a form of unity and in continuity to the town of its context. We recognise in the bathhouse a building typology that is at the same time an extended domestic and intimate public place. A house arranged for the convenience of persons who resort to, in this case, seawaters. 

The place of context for this studio is Ostend in West-Flanders, Belgium. Centrally positioned on the Belgian coastline it is the biggest coastal town of the low-countries at the North Sea. As a ‘City at the Sea’ the amount of inhabitants increases by four times each summer. Ostend has proclaimed its position at the North Sea with a nearly 400 meters long neoclassical arcade on a dike on the beach, originally constructed as the Thermal Palace. The site for the design of a bathhouse will be the location of the former Royal Villa, laying behind an mid-fifties extension of the arcade towards the city. Despite it’s prominent location, it has been neglected as a place in partaking in the public bathing-culture of Ostend. 

As part of the curriculum students will be making a study-trip to (North) European examples of extraordinary bathhouses and bathing towns. 

The studio will kick-off with a full-day excursion to Ostend to visit the site, explore the architecture of the city and together discuss what qualities the North Sea has to offer to design a bathhouse as a place to visit throughout the year that can reaffirm Ostend as a ‘City at the North Sea’. 


Studio 4: The Venetian Campo
Tutors: Sam De Vocht, Sereh Mandias

‘Venice… is theater in real life. No curtain lowered, no footlights turned off, no after curtain confusion… And just as here the stage setting is true, though nonetheless a setting, so the Venetians lead their real lives but in the manner of actors interpreting a Commedia dell’Arte.’

Andre Fraigneau

Venice grew with and around its civic rituals. During the renaissance and baroque periods, festivity was a central aspect of Venetian life and over the ages Venetians have built and transformed their city, adapting the city's irregular maze of land and water and the structure of its buildings and open spaces to the needs of a complex civic ritual. All of Venice was a stage for public festivities, be they formal and ceremonial, like the processions on Piazza San Marco, or of a more popular character, like the carnival which combined history and myth, tradition and innovation, and represented an uninhibited moment that was open to all social classes, and everything, or almost everything, was allowed.  

Contemporary Venice hasn't lost any of its theatre. It's audience, however, has changed. Ever increasing numbers of tourists have supplanted most of the city's inhabitants, transforming the vital energies of the city. State institutions, stores, medical practices and dwellings have made way for hotels. Shops and businesses that provide services for residents struggle to survive. The city now lives awaiting its Disneyland-like future: an almost intact yet increasingly lifeless body.

This MSc1 project takes the tension between the city as spectacle and the inhabited city as starting point and studies how one can rethink Venice as a festive but evolving, inhabited artefact. 

Within La Serenissima, our object of study will be the Venetian campo. The campo, which translates as 'field', has always been the heart of Venetian neighbourhoods. It is the central stage for contemporary inhabitants of Venice. As prisms of Venetian quotidian life, these squares gather the community facilities, a church and a well, clustering around a more or less central grassy space, whose urban shape in turn depended on the structure of the island and were in keeping with the fabric of secular buildings standing along the canals. The campo will be our entry point for regarding Venice as a place to live. 

Starting with an excursion to Venice, we will collectively study the life of three campi and their own distinct urban and architectural setting. We will research the elements that determine the individuality of these campi, their proportions, materials and buildings. Each campo forms its own specific urban interior, enclosed by the surrounding buildings like walls to an outdoor room, creating a deeply theatrical architectural arrangement: a stage for urban life to unfold. Parallel, we will study Venetian references that include but are not limited to the Venetian Renaissance processions and their elaborate stage sets, Aldo Rossi Teatro del Mondo, the Giardini and its pavilions and Scarpa’s Venetian interiors. 

Individually, students will be asked to imagine a future life for the campi by interpreting and observing how one could add a programme meant for local festivities to a chosen campo. The assignment will be to design a building for local rituals and festivities in combination with much needed exhibition space for the Biennales, balancing local community life with contemporary Venetian events. The structure will hold a collection of spaces for festive uses: a loggia, a balcony, an exhibition space, a stairwell, a ballroom. Important design themes include the finding of an appropriate mass and form relating in plan and section to the campo and the canals, how to build responsibly and sustainably in the Laguna and the notion of theatricality and representation within a Venetian context. 

The Festive City

“During the 18th century no sharply defined borderlines existed between city planning and architecture, between architecture and decoration, between decoration and stage design, between stage design and landscape architecture.” 

Zucker, Paul (1955) Space and Movement in High Baroque City Planning

The form of the European city, its buildings and spaces have frequently been driven by the idea and nature of the festive moment, whether it is inscribed in the founding of the city itself, the positioning, uses and relationships of its representative spaces, or the situation and appearance of its buildings and institutions. Whether Sixtus V’s Baroque Rome, Karl Friedrich Schinkel’s Berlin, or the repurposing of city fortifications as promenades overlooking formerly hostile landscapes, the festive city engages with ideas of the theatrical, marking the urban spaces and buildings within and without as set-pieces or scenography. Such scenes are inferred in Serlio’s engravings describing ‘tragic’ and ‘comic’ scenes. At the scale of the building Gottfried Semper describes the evolution of the language of architecture as the material embodiment of ephemeral adornment, garlands of flowers or leaves, hung from walls and columns to create a festive atmosphere. This process of translation raises the relationship between day to day life and the festive moment. Within contemporary urban culture, the nature of the festival is something other, signified by the ephemeral structure. The project which the studios of Interiors Buildings Cities will focus on for 2017/18 will instead seek to reclaim the impact of the festive, at many scales of community life, on the fundamental nature of places and spaces in which we collectively live and to consider the way in which they might respond to the challenges we face in difficult, contested times.

We will announce the specific MSc1 studios and their tutors as soon as the information becomes available. On the Assembly at the start of the autumn semester all tutors will present their studios in more detail and students will be able to choose their preferred project.

Fundamentals I
Coordinator: Susanne Pietsch

This course aims to develop skills in the appraisal and understanding of common considerations and problems in architectural design, particularly in the architecture of the interior and architecture made in relation to existing structures and urban conditions. Methods are used that join processes of observation and analysis with processes of making design–– particular to complex buildings and interiors––in seminars and tutorials.

Fundamentals II
Coordinator: Mark Pimlott

Purpose of this course is to deepen students’ knowledge and understanding of the public, urban interior in relation to the design project. This semester students will develop an indiviual research trajectory adjacent to their own design project. Students will apply the tools and methods from the Fundamentals I according to their personal research themes. 

The compulsory general courses of the MSc1 Architecture that run alongside our programme are:

Delft Seminars on Building Technology

Delft Lectures on Architectural Design

Delft Lectures on Architectural History