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Architecture of Informality - Course Brief

SS15 PROJECT_POSTED_BY Ivan Kucina     April 1, 2015    




Architecture of Informality
Prof. Ivan Kucina

Architecture of Informality_Beyond Slum


This seminar aims at building up the agenda which purpose is to track the informal processes and to understand its consequences on architecture. Architecture of informality is a worldwide indicator of a widespread non-institutionalized but systematic practice. Academic research on the informal systems can serve as a starting point for proposing changes of the established policies, which would then become an instrument for creating sustainable and convivial living environment.

Research Field

Architecture of informality offers remarkable possibilities for redefining professional participation in making architecture more responsive to present conditions. It occurs between distributed and hierarchical systems; innovations are created through conflict and negotiation between individuals and institutions. While building patterns are fairly basic, the complexity that arose from distinctive blends of non-regulated and regulated building operations maintains a time- based character of an emergent system. In nearly all informal buildings, pulsating and flexible structures are achieved, resembling profoundly hybrid spaces. Their potentials provide a ground for cultivating an alternative architectural discourse that confronts official architecture system remaining rigidly attached to the proposition of an autonomous identity of designed object. It takes architecture production beyond the impulse to reaffirm identity and speaks to the very being of others, discovering the world from the perspective of many different people involved in the building process.

Understanding the architecture of informality as a consequence of perpetual interactions between the people questions whether design and building procedures can be shifted from a top-down, immutable delivery mechanism into a transparent, inclusive, bottom-up, and open- ended approach. In this respect, the production of a living space becomes radically incompatible with the idea of object autonomy representing a shift from object-oriented design to a relational space constructed as the domain of communal exchange among its participants. The apparent direction for architects is to influence, steer, and shift the process themselves, which means a change of focus from designing objects to designing programs for navigating the process of social exchange and sharing. Thus, a new methodology and a practice to identify, visualize, and, to a certain degree, predict architectural changeability must be developed.


In order to provide coherence and continuity to the class, three specific methodological phases will be followed through semester in the format of discussion lectures:

Divergence - each student will put one question about the architecture of informality and others will brainstorm their reflections. Student who asks will make keynotes that will help him/her to find relevant references.

Archiving – students will organize their references in line following the inherent logic of keynotes in order to create a provisional archive of existing knowledge on the subjects asked

Convergence – in order to conceptualize new knowledge on the architecture of informality students will create essay that resumes their references. It should be no longer than 3000 words.


At the end of semester new knowledge on the architecture of informality will be organized around questions that have been posted at the beginning of the semester. Production of knowledge and learning thus become a simultaneous activity.


Enrollment is open now !
Students who are interested, kindly join the elective group link :