Master Thesis: Architecture Laboratories in a big scale Education and Research in a big scale

Architecture Laboratories
Education and Research in a big scale

Master Thesis to obtain the Degree of Msc.Arch. (Dipl.Ing.)
Benjamin Schmid
Technical University Graz
Translated from German by Ren Aldridge


Universities experiment in different scales to teach their students the interaction between construction, function and design. But mostly these experiments stay in a scale between 1:50 to 1:200, so the size of office tables. Only rarely they go out of their Ateliers into a human/urban scale. This also comes because of economical and practical restrictions. One of the major critics against architectural educational institutions is the inability to handle the pragmatic aspects of construction. Exercises in construction are an ideal opportunity to learn in a practical sense, but without losing the focus on design. New Materials, that are foreign to architecture until now and new ways of constructing can be achieved through reconstructing, experimenting and analysing old methods. This Paper is primarily focussed on the analysis of existing laboratories for education and research, who are already experimenting in a big scale. Building up on this analysis we will establish a catalog of needed functions and characteristics, which such a room for experimenting in a big scale needs to fulfil. How can such a laboratory be planned? How can universities work together and share their resources? In the chapter permanent laboratories we analyse already existing laboratories for education and research with a focus point on construction, which are installed at a fixed location. The largest part of the analysis deals with the GAIA (Les Grands Ateliers de L´Isle d´Abeau). Further Analysis deals with the Autodesk Pier 9 in the San Francisco Bay, USA. Following this, we will analyse temporary laboratories, which also experiment in the field of architecture in a scale of 1:1. Examples are the EASA (European Architecture Student Assembly) and Bellastock in France. This study subjects will be analysed in terms of origination, their primary purpose, their context and their connections with the sociocultural surroundings, their activities, their equipment, staff size and their philosophy in the area of diffusion and publication of their activities. Following this we will work on requirements of such an institution in Austria, which should work as an analogy to the GAIA. Findings of the analysis of the other laboratories will also be taken in account. Finally we will work out a design, how such a laboratory for education and research can be established in the East of Austria. We will construct a hypothesis, that multiple universities with studies in architecture, art and civil engineering in Graz and Vienna want to establish such laboratory to fortify their cooperation and share their resources.  Furthermore we will suggest possibilities, how these institutions can enrich their sociocultural surroundings. This Paper concentrates on the analysis of existing laboratories and the possibility of an analogy in Austria, as also the question how such an institution can influence architecture and what value such a laboratory would have for universities and its location.

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Presentation / Defensio with Notes:

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Complete Thesis

1 Introduction

For Vitruvius, architecture consists of the three principles of firmitas (stability), utilitas (utility) and venustas (grace). A modern translation of these principles would probably be construction, function and design. In the course of Vitruvius’ architectural treaty, these three principles are not seen as separate, but rather merge together, without any single principle taking priority. (1) The process of designing architectural forms is done by manipulating mass, space, volume, materials, textures, and light, as well as costs, construction techniques, and technology until one arrives at an aesthetic, functional, and meaningful result, in both a constructive and social context. (2)
In 2009, the European Association for Architectural Education (EAAE), in collaboration with the European Network of Heads of Schools of Architecture (ENHSA), hosted a three-day symposium titled Architectural Design and Construction Education – Experimentation towards Integration, to tackle the issues of implementing engagement in constructive experiments in teaching. Numerous delegations of European architecture faculties were present, which, among other things, offered an insight into how their universities dealt with the topic of construction. The transcript of these discussions was published in an anthology in 2010. It states that the current European educational system of architecture has been designed in recent decades with a steadily increasing number of modules, but at the same time, the connections between them were weakened resulting in no continuity of the teaching content. Today, the challenge of architectural education is the reunification of the Vitruvian principles, not through the fusion of all teaching modules, but through cooperative and interactive activities in teaching.
During the symposium, no fundamental distinction was made between the standards of construction experiments. However, some contributions to the discussion show that certain faculties have found that a greater sense of scale, as well as the direct handling of materials and their composition, to be essential, and have implemented this in the curriculum, mainly through design exercises.

Problem Description 

Universities and teachers are therefore aware that the teaching of construction can not be dealt with purely in terms of theoretical design. Most universities use a variety of approaches in their teaching to help students understand the interplay of construction, function and design. Mostly, however, these attempts remain at the scale 1:50 to 1: 200, so principally at desk size. Only rarely does one move out of the studio and go into a human or urban environment, also due to economic and practical limitations. Moments when students can realize their work in scales between 1:10 and 1: 1 tend to be limited. However, it is precisely this greater scale that is essential in enabling students to accurately represent the aesthetics of the space, the detail of the construction, its effect on the human eye, as well as its functionality and to make statements about it. Herman Neuckermans, Hans De Petter, Piet Stevens and Staf Roels of the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven state in their lecture Construction Design Studio – Bridging the Gaps : “There is no shape without construction and no construction without shape.” Therefore all our design assignments have a real site and in embryo at least all age-old Vitruvian categories solved.” (3)
In theory, students should assemble materials, take them apart, study them, and get a feel for materiality and scale in a social and cooperative environment. One of the main criticisms of architectural educational institutions is, for the most part, their inability to deal with the pragmatic aspects of building. Design exercises are an ideal way to learn in a practical sense without losing focus on the design. A criticism made by William J. Carpenter in his book Learning by Building: Design and Construction in Architectural Education is that the faculties of architecture are isolated from other disciplines such as civil engineering or their university environment. Here, design exercises could also lead to interdisciplinary cooperation and be integrated into their environment, such as the surrounding city. (4)
The pure imagination of an architect is not infinite. In building projects, facade parts are pre-built to show clients how the building will look in reality later. New and unfamiliar materials, as well as new forms of construction are found by replicating and analyzing old architectural forms and experimenting with them. Thus, to offer students and research institutes at universities a chance to experiment on a large scale, there is a need for premises that can accommodate these large-scale functions and fulfil specific requirements tailored to the teaching and research operations of a university.
Thus, it is also in the interest of a university to enable the students, who later may also become researchers in their area, to simulate the architectural process, from the first freehand sketches to team design adjustments to the realization of the architectural form: an experience that is rarely possible in the current university context. It may even be argued that this is the only way to give students a complete understanding of the integrity of the architectural process.
As in the case of Graz University of Technology, the expansion of space for European universities in urban areas is coming to an end, and large sums are being invested annually in rents and the associated resettlement and adaptation costs. However, these costs are not proprietary and can not sustainably expand the teaching and research operations, but rather provide a means to control the spatial situation. It is in the interest of universities and their teachers, researchers and students to seek more sustainable solutions in the longer term, both in economic and qualitative, as well as in representative terms.
The important topics for a university are not only the economic and qualitative aspects of teaching and research, but also the public relations, the dissemination of knowledge, and, in our case, architectural communication. Universities are heavily dependent on publication and innovation to gain the best rankings in the worldwide competition for recognition, funds and students.

Content, structure and method

This work is primarily concerned with the analysis of existing teaching and research laboratories, which are already working, teaching and experimenting on a large scale, especially the French GAIA ( Les Grands Ateliers de l’Isle d’Abeau ). Based on this, a catalog of requirements is to be created for the required functions and properties that such a space of experimenting with large constructions must fulfil. How can such a teaching and research laboratory be brought about? What are the framework conditions? How can universities and teaching and research institutes share resources? In order to explore these questions, the sometimes very special genesis stories of GAIA and other laboratories are studied in order to find suggestions for their realization in Austria. The current state in the Austrian landscape of educational institutions is that every institution builds its own self-contained structure which it develops. The final result is that there are laboratories and workshops at a small distance from each other that do not fully exploit their potential. Here it would be interesting to seek cooperation both through the sharing of tools and through the exchange of knowledge. Not only would this result in an economic benefit by eliminating unnecessary procurement of machinery and foreign knowledge, it would also bring about changes in thinking about architecture.
Using examples, this thesis examines how this already works elsewhere, and suggests at the end of the work what an Austrian example might look like. This work lists 16 public and 2 private universities as well as 13 universities of applied sciences in Austria, which offer suitable fields of study (architecture, engineering, art), in order to be considered for such a cooperation without considering the distances to each other.

The work is divided into two main chapters: “Analysis” and “Design”. The chapter “Analysis” is in turn divided into the following chapters: “Permanent laboratories”, “Temporary laboratories” and the “Summary analysis”.
In the chapter “Permanent Laboratories”, a detailed analysis of existing fixed-site research and teaching centers focusing on construction will be carried out. Most of this analysis deals with the institution GAIA, an association of several universities and interest groups based in L’Isle d’Abeau, France. It also highlights the activities of the laboratory, including participation in the Solar Decathlon 2012 with the Canopea project, in which I was instrumental. Further investigations focus on Autodesk Pier 9, San Francisco Bay, USA. This is followed by examples of temporary laboratories in which architectural forms were also produced on a 1: 1 scale. Examples are the EASA (European Architecture Student Assembly) and Bellastock, France.
The analysis section of this thesis examines the origin of this laboratory, its primary purpose, its context and its connection with the sociocultural environment, as well as its activities, facilities, location (in particular with regard to its connection to educational institutions), personnel size, and its philosophy in the field of the publishing and dissemination of its activities. Building on this, a set of requirements will be developed, which a teaching and research laboratory could fulfil in analogy to GAIA in Austria, in order to achieve a similar functionality. The findings and advantages of the other laboratories analyzed are also considered and demonstrated.
The work relies heavily on literature studies and my personal experience as I have worked in both the GAIA Laboratory for the Solar Decathlon 2012, EASA, 2014 Edition, and Bellastock, 2011 Edition. In addition, interviews have been conducted and site visits made.


Finally, a draft is worked out of how such a teaching and research laboratory could be developed in the eastern part of Austria. It is hypothetically assumed that several educational institutions of architecture, the arts and engineering in the vicinity of Graz and Vienna would like to jointly build such a laboratory in order to strengthen their cooperation and to share resources. Based on the analysis and catalog of requirements developed in this work, an attempt is made to find a suitable location. For this purpose, a program code is developed in order to limit the possible locations by means of accessibility, analysis and the interpolation method. It then suggests ways in which the institution can enrich the region in a socio-cultural sense. Thus, the work focuses on both the analysis of existing institutions and the possibility of a parallel in Austria, as well as on how such a facility could influence today’s architecture, and what value it would have for universities, educational institutions and the location.


The question of what the curriculum and organization of an architectural educational institution can or must look like is not considered in this work, since the topic of the integration of different knowledge fields in design exercises is today one of the most complex problems of architectural education, and exceeds the scope of this work. (5) Also, no concrete architectural design for such a teaching and research laboratory is being prepared. Rather, a reference book for educational institutions and a discourse on the future of constructive teaching should be developed. An inventory analysis of laboratories and their equipment in Austria’s existing educational institutions is also not taken into consideration, since this could change in the shortest possible time due to factors such as new acquisitions, and thus no clear statement can be made with relevance to this work.

2 Analysis

2.1 Permanent laboratories

2.1.1 Les Grands Ateliers de l´Isle d´Abeau


Les Grands Ateliers de l’Isle d’Abeau (GAIA) is an institution for the communication and exploration of building culture, in particular the harboring and realization of innovative and diverse projects in the field of construction (Fig. 1). According to its website, it sees itself as a teaching and research laboratory; an extension of university teaching in architecture, the arts and civil engineering by practical experimentation on a large scale, up to the scale of 1: 1. It also defines itself as a platform for encounter between different educational institutions of the same discipline, such as architecture, or between different disciplines, such as engineering and the arts. The GAIA are a groupement d’interet public , a non-profit making public body. (6) According to the website page about the history of GAIA, it was officially named as Les Grands Ateliers de l’Isle d’Abeau, in 1994, but the preliminary work dates back to the early 1980s. Since 2001, GAIA has owned a building in the town of Villeneuve in the Rhone Alpes region, where they produce objects and prototypes in all sizes and variations. GAIA has a strong connection to various universities and other educational institutions in France, especially to the teaching and research bodies there, with which research goals are set and developed, with the help of students (I experienced this myself). This is explained in the annual report. (7) Its internal competencies and network of partners enable GAIA to fulfil a variety of demands, from facilitating experiments in the freest way to technical tests on the calculated behavior of materials, as well as high-tech realizations or methodological and pedagogical innovations. Proposals for projects come from both the pedagogical and the professional field, according to the GAIA, but these are primarily carried out by the research laboratories of the universities: there is no project without a participating university. (8)

Fig. 1 GAIA –View from the South

One could therefore speak of GAIA as a kind of outsourced research laboratory. The Grands Ateliers’ offer, to various educational institutions, companies, interest groups, such as the Chamber of Architects or local authorities, therefore, is mainly a platform for the production of prototypes with extended functions. This diversity of origins and traditions of building through these various disciplines generates a rich mix of personalities and views on the culture of building, which can enhance the awareness of students. The interactions of these groups, random or pre-programmed, extend the various pedagogies and research projects whose instruments are thereby strengthened and expanded. Furthermore, according to their website, GAIA has been working for some time now on a network of collaborative knowledge exchange and innovation, in which universities and businesses can support each other, especially in the use of materials and their design possibilities.The issue of intellectual property also plays a role here. (9) Location

Les Grands Ateliers de l’Isle d’Abeau are located in the commune of L’ Isle d’Abeau of the Isère department in the Rhône-Alpes region and are part of the Porte de l’Isère (Fig. 2).

In the 1970s, the originally small community L’Isle d’Abeau was expanded together with Villefontaine and other communities to a ville nouvelle . A ville nouvelle is the response of the French Government in the 1960s to the calculated demographic rise in regions around major cities and the associated additional expense in the centralized administration of France. Communities were merged under a parent body: the ville nouvelle. This corporation receives subsidies from the state and in the future will take care of the regional centralization of infrastructure, urban planning and much more. (Fig. 3). With this new entity and the state subsidies associated with it, a large investment package will be put in place to provide living space and jobs for future residents. Here L’Isle d’Abeau decides to focus on sustainable building and promotes the settlement of construction companies as well as educational and research institutions. In 1985, the Village de terre project set a representative mark. Later, GAIA also settled in the area (Fig. 4, Fig. 5). Today, more than 60% of French research on concrete, textile cements and glass takes place in this region. (10)

Fig. 4 View of GAIA from Boulevard de Villefontaine Staff and Budget

Figure 6 shows the annual functional budget of GAIA over the years 2008 to 2011. It also lists the annual investment budget, which is partly subsidized by the Rhone-Alpes region.
The staff consists of three people, subsidized by the Ministry of Culture and Communication and the ENTPE (Ecole Nationale des Travaux Publics d’Etat) with a wage / year of 120 000 €. These costs are already included in the budget statement. It also has six employees, provided by GAIA’s founding universities: Employees of ENSAG (Ecole Nationale Superieure d’Architecture de Grenoble) (1), ENSAL (Ecole Nationale Superieure d’Architecture de Lyon) (2), ENTPE ( 2) and Saint-Étienne (1) with annual wages of around € 245,000. (11) Workload

During the academic year 2011-2012, the occupancy rate was as follows:
– Students / day: 8,739 people.
Of this figures, 852 was for the Grains d’Isère festival and 1,253 for the construction of the Canopea project for the Solar Decathlon.
–               171 lecturers have taught at GAIA
–               42 offered modules for basic education (Bachelor, Master) and further education (PhD)
–               15 educational institutions, including 2 foreign ones, participated in the basic education activities. (12)


Fig. 5 Aerial view of GAIA History and Architecture

The at first purely pedagogical and nameless project, was initiated by the architecture universities ENSAL ( Ecole Nationale Supérieure d ‘Architecture de Lyon ) and ENSAG ( Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’ Architecture de Grenoble ), in particular by its laboratories, to collaborate on research projects. The network of constructive building culture established in France and launched by the Architectural, Urban and Landscape Research Office drew attention of other French and European universities to this experimental collaboration and also indicated their interest in sharing knowledge. (13) These positive resonances have resulted in inter-disciplinary approaches in the Rhone-Alpes region between the ENSAG ( Ecole Nationale Supérieure d ‘Architecture de Grenoble ) and the EASE ( Ecole d’Art de Saint Etienne ), as well as joint seminar experiments between the ENSAL ( Ecole Nationale Supérieure d ‘Architecture de Lyon ), the ENTPE ( Ecole nationale des travaux publics d’Etat ) and the INSA (National Institute of the Sciences Appliquées de Lyon ). These institutions ENSAG, ENSAL, INSA, EASE and ENTPE finally gave the project its name Les Grands Ateliers. (14)
At about the same time, between 1981 and 1985, the commune of L’Isle d’Abeau in the Rhone-Alpes region, together with ENSAG’s CRAterre laboratory and ENTPE, started the experimental construction of a 2.2 hectare settlement of 12 clay building houses at 65 units. The project was named Le village terre , the Earth City. It was shown in 1982 in a traveling exhibition called Des Architectures de terre ou l’avenir d’une tradition millénaire and had great national and international success. The success of this exhibition gave birth to the idea of ​​a new center for teaching and research in construction and building culture in L’Isle d’Abeau. The principles were: meet, approximate, realize. (15) In 1991, the institutions SAN ( Syndicat d’Agglomération Nouvelle ), EPIDA ( Public Administration of the Ville Nouvelle de l’Isle d’Abeau ), the Directorate of Architecture and Urbanisme and the EAG ( Ecole d’Architecture de Grenoble ) held a convention. (16) The above were interested in developing a teaching and research laboratory within the boundaries of the Porte de l’Isère commune and defined the principal directions of the project. In 1993 other educational institutions associated themselves with the project, either directly or through their research laboratories and research teams: these included the architecture universities of the Rhone-Alpes region, Paris-Villemin and Montpellier, and the art universities of St. Etienne, Grenoble and Lyon. In 1994, The Ministère de l’Equipement , represented by the Department of Architecture and Urban Design, the Region and the Municipalities Associations, decided on a contract within the framework of economic planning, representing the first stage of the new building, which would also house the new teaching and research laboratory for 20 million francs (3 million euros). The building was partly financed by the state and partly by the municipalities. In 1995, a protocol was signed between eleven universities, as well as the CSTB ( Center Scientifique et Technique du Bâtiment ) and EPIDA ( Public Administration of the Ville Nouvelle de l’Isle d’Abeau ). This shows the will of the founder institutions to cooperate with each other and thus to create a common “tool”, namely Les Grands Ateliers de l’Isle d’Abeau (GAIA). This protocol decided the new management, the works council, as well as the board for science and education. From 1995 to 1998, the Founding Institutions got to know each other better by working together and through activities of pre-configuration, clarifying the goals and missions of the Center, and finally gained new partners through the new perspectives of the project. Several universities and research teams then joined the project to give it a European dimension. Ten industrial partners supported these actions, both financially and materially, and are still actively involved today (Figure 8). In December 2001, the first construction phase was completed and handed over. The GAIA community could move into their building and begin harboring their activities, especially teaching and experimenting. (17)



Fig. 7 Ground Plan of GAIA – First Floor


Fig. 11 GAIA – Cross section through the factory hall and ancillary rooms

The building has a total width of 30m, length of 52m and height of 11m. The gross floor area is about 1600m2 GFA. It also has sealed outdoor facilities of around 5200m 2 (Fig. 9). It is divided into a northeastern and a southwestern wing, each 15m deep, connected by a central corridor The building is built in steel skeleton construction. All functions are hung by means of cubicles in the square grid of 7.5m (Figure 10). The roof construction can be classified as two symmetrical flat roofs, which are drained via a central flat roof. However, the roof also makes an allusion to the shed roof, undoubtedly to divert the resulting loads and rainwater every 15m into the larger cross members (Figure 11). The southwestern wing contains a hall enclosed on all sides ( grande hall ), a hall ( hall intermediaire ) open on one side , and a multifunctional room used as a dining room and exhibition space. The rooms extend, with the exception of the multi-function room, over a ceiling height of 8m. The northeastern wing presents itself half as a thermally finished concrete building with two floors and includes:
–               on the ground floor: shared kitchen, thematic workshops (wood, steel, digital), storage rooms, hospital rooms and sanitary facilities
–               on the 1st floor: seminar rooms, changing rooms and administration
–               on the second floor: administration, research offices
The second half of the wing is an externally loadable warehouse, divided by grid structures. In the northwest, a fenced outdoor area of ​​approximately 740m2 is divided into the building, which provides storage space and is declared as an external hall. In the south and southwest towards the main road we find the representative facade of the building and the forecourt, which is mainly used by the students as a place of leisure. Up towards the road we find a large terraced embankment with Corten steel elements reminiscent of a theatrical stage. If you stay there, you can let the building work its charm on you (Fig. 12).
The façade area of ​​the Grande Halle is characterized by a suspended tertiary building shell made of glass elements, behind which emergency blankets were stretched. These fulfil the task of sun protection and, by affixing to the inside of the curtain wall construction, make it possible to heat up the interior (Fig. 13). This serves as an air reservoir to deliver the heat energy stored during the day evenly to the interior at night and in winter. This form of architecture already shows in its construction the experimentation with extraordinary materials and by itself already fulfils a part of the pedagogy of alternative building. The ground floor zone can be opened completely to the outside (Fig. 14). On the southeast side, the main entrance of the building presents itself as rather reserved. The multifunctional room can be opened on this side for exhibitions (Fig. 15). Inside, the polycarbonate and OSB wall cladding gives the building a rustic semi-finished character, yet it exudes an extraordinary aesthetic through the careful blending of materials (Figure 16). All in all, the building is a sophisticated yet rational construction that places great emphasis on light, insight and efficiency. The budget of three million euros was clearly handled with care and specific accentuations were set.
In May 2002, the legal structure, which unites the founders in a long-term grouping d’interet public, was officially published for the first time. (18)


Fig. 13 GAIA – Collage of the facade construction from rescue blankets The missions of GAIA

GAIA ( Les Grands Ateliers de l’Isle d’Abeau) is defined by the following three missions:
–              Teaching, in the wider sense, from basic education (Bachelor, Master) up to extended education (PhD).
–               Research on a large scale up to 1: 1.
–               Information and the dissemination of collected knowledge.
These three missions are not to be seen as independent, but to enrich each other. The originality of GAIA lies in the proposal of an “active pedagogy”. This forms a relationship between the theoretical work and the architectural matter. This enables it to reflect on new research practices. Furthermore, the use of new communication techniques, such as the, then relatively young, Internet, have been used to spread the building culture. The achievements of research, for example, through training seminars with faculty and researchers, should update the curricula of educational institutions. In general, the distance between teaching and the current state of knowledge of the industry should be reduced by educational projects. The composition of mixed teams, consisting, for example, of researchers and specialist planners, is intended to give a new insight to materials and their composition. The active added value of these resulting achievements, together with the didactic reflection on the nature of teaching from the Grands Ateliers, is intended to be a laboratory for experimentation and study for educational research. (19) The Teaching

Fig. 17 Exercise to understand the load support against soil (2015)

As part of the teaching mission, GAIA ( Les Grands Ateliers de l’Isle d’Abeau) has set as its first goal enriching the basic education, which includes both the Bachelor’s and the Master’s program. GAIA does not see itself as a new university and should not have an autonomous curriculum. Rather, autonomous seminar units are to be offered, which in turn are anchored in the educational curriculum. These seminar units are intended to support teaching through the practical handling of materials used in construction (Fig. 17, Fig. 18). The content and requirements of these seminar units, produced by teachers, were first presented in 1997 in a catalog with the staff of GAIA and compiled with the professors of the former partner universities, namely the ENSAL ( Ecole Nationale Supérieure d ‘Architecture de Lyon ) and the ENSAG ( Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture de Grenoble ). It argues for an active pedagogy in which students should play with, and experiment with the handling of, materials. In this catalog it was agreed to mention the topics: matter and materials, construction, form, assembly, system of structure and building envelope, environment and atmosphere, which in turn were arranged for better processing into the subject areas:
–               Environment and eco-construction
–               Earthquake safety and other big risks (eg flood)
–               Room Design
Seminars on these topics have been and are developed for students, ranging from a few days to several weeks. Furthermore, GAIA defines research programs, or organizes further training seminars for teaching staff and the industry (specialist planners and companies). In addition, since 2002, thematic weeks and seminars have been organized, in which one deals with certain materials such as wood or concrete. (20)


Fig. 18 Construction Exercise – Realization of a Retaining Wall (2015) The Research

University engineering and architecture research laboratories and industrial research centers provide a critical mass of competencies, activated and networked through GAIA (Les Grands Ateliers de l’Isle d’Abeau) as a mediator. Organizing exchanges between research and industry will allow for innovation and originality, especially in the area of ​​materials and their design possibilities. GAIA is intended to serve as a place of experiment, as well as a neuralgic hub to unite to find solutions in areas such as earthquake-proof constructions, ageing of materials or interior design. Artists, engineers and architects should be able to work together to create innovation. GAIA tries to find innovative research directions within their network for research. These are then assisted in research projects, as well as the search for financing, by networking with industrialists. They provide a space for experimenting with tools and qualified personnel and help to disseminate the results of this work. (21)
Worth mentioning is the project, “Armadillo Box”, a contribution by the ENSAG ( Ecole National Supérieure d ‘Architecture de Grenoble ) to the international competition, Solar Decathlon in 2010 in Madrid (Fig. 19). The project objective is the design and realization of a so-called plus-energy-building, with core-skin-shell-concept, which can be operated self-sufficiently with solar energy. (22)
‘Plus energy buildings’ are another name for zero energy or net zero energy buildings, where “[…] as a result of the very high energy efficiency of the building, the annual primary energy consumption is equal to, or lower than, the energy production from local renewable energy sources.“ (23)
To meet these requirements, a special building envelope of wood and clay was used in this project, among others, previously developed at the research laboratory CRATerre the ENSAG ( Ecole Nationale Superieure d’Architecture de Grenoble ) and GAIA.


Fig. 19 The Armadillo Box, in the background the GAIA from the northeast (2011)

The Armadillo box has been standing on the grounds of GAIA ( Les Grands Ateliers de l’Isle d’Abeau) since the end of the competition in autumn 2010, where it’s properties can be examined in the long term, in terms of the obsolescence of its materials, in particular the obsolescence of the claywood wall, and its energy efficiency. Information and dissemination

The third mission is to make GAIA ( Les Grands Ateliers de l’Isle d’Abeau) a production and distribution center for constructive building culture. In order to address a wider audience with its research, teaching and educational topics, the following actions are taken:
– Permanent exhibitions (Fig. 20).
– Events for the exchange of disciplines, universities and
companies (seminars, colloquia, thematic weeks).
– a multimedia research center CR2M, which can be consulted via the
– Material library integrated in CR2M. (24)
– the publication and dissemination of seminars and their pedagogy


Fig. 20 Interior dining room / showroom

The platform CR2M was not discovered until the end of this work. From the point of view of this work, the dissemination of publications mainly takes place via the member universities and their websites or publications. Whether there are publications on the topic of active pedagogy could not be determined. Activities Fete de Lumiere

In 2002, an annual student ideas competition for urban lighting began, starting at the beginning of each academic year with a dozen art, architecture and design universities across Europe. The installations can be found in the Fete de Lumiere on a square and its neighboring streets in the center of Lyon (Fig. 21). (25) The theme of these installations is light. It is especially an opportunity for students to design bright and transient installations with a fresh and creative perspective. These student experiments are designed to renew the perception of urban space, and demonstrate the architectural richness of this neighborhood. It is a particular challenge for the students, as the intervention in public space is viewed by several thousand spectators. Fifteen projects are selected each year to create a poetic and / or playful passage that questions our relationship to the city. These installations are made by the students themselves in GAIA ( Grands Ateliers de l’Isle d’Abeau) , under the supervision and with the assistance of the staff. (26) Festival Grains Isere

Fig. 23 Festival Grains d‘Isere – view from the southwest (2011)

The Festival Grains d’Isère is a major event in the world of earth building and its architecture. It is an international event / rally that combines art, culture and science around earth and clay. Grains d’Isere is principally supported by the ENSAG ( Ecole Nationale Supérieure d ‘Architecture de Grenoble ) CRATerre laboratory, which has existed since 1979 , and organized with various partners, in particular GAIA ( Les Grands Ateliers de l’Isle d’Abeau). The festival has become an essential meeting place for teaching and disseminating information on clay architecture. It hosts and organizes various thematic events and supports the use of clay in construction in France and abroad. In 2011, the festival had 852 students (Fig. 23). (27) The Solar Decathlon

Fig. 24 The Solar Decathlon 2011 in Irvine, California

The Solar Decathlon is a competition organized by the US Energy Department since 2002. The aim is to promote innovation and disseminate knowledge and achievements in the field of sustainable energy, such as passive housing, bio-climatic and solar energy. The competition is being advertised among universities worldwide in a two-year cycle. These Universities should design, in an academic framework, a house with an area of 75m 2, whereby the built-in solar energy modules may serve as the only energy resource. From the submissions, the most promising projects are invited to realize their design. The teams then have one year to complete this task. The final projects will be shipped to Orange County Great Park, Irvine, California, completed by the teams and commissioned for over ten days (Figure 24). During this time, only self-sufficient solar energy can be fed into the buildings. Requirements for the building include, for example, a constant climatic and aesthetic quality of the room, a supply of hot water and a functioning electricity balance. During these 10 days each house will undergo a series of ten tests during organized tours that will allow the jury to evaluate the energetic performance and comfort of the building, as well as the quality of the exchange between team and audience. Examples include, starting a washing machine with a certain number of towels and a standardized washing program, the respective team cooking for another team, deriving a certain amount of hot water by measuring the temperature in the shower and much more. Like in an Olympic Decathlon, the winning project is the one that scores the most points at the end of the ten days. (28)

In 2007, the Spanish government signed a declaration of cooperation with the US, which allowed a European Solar Decathlon to be held in Madrid for the first time in 2010. This now takes place every two years in alternation with the USA. For the first European Solar Decathlon a competition was also organized. As a result of this competition, 21 international universities, were represented at the 2010 Solar Decathlon in Madrid. (29) France, the ENSAG ( Ecole Nationale Superieure d’Architecture de Grenoble ) and GAIA ( Les Grands Ateliers de l’Isle d’Abeau) qualified with their Armadillo Box project and won 4th Place. Around 190,000 visitors viewed the projects, according to official information. (30)

In 2011, France was once again able to qualify in a joint venture between ENSAG ( Ecole Nationale Supérieure d ‘Architecture de Grenoble ) and ENSAL ( Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’ Architecture de Lyon ). Their project Canopea won the second European Solar Decathlon in 2012. Both prototypes were created in collaboration with the ENSAG and ENSAL Master Programs in GAIA and the final product was prefabricated for use in Madrid. I also participated in the Canopea project during my Erasmus exchange in the academic year 2011-2012. I was part of a project exercise at the institute AACC – Architecture, ambiances et cultures constructives, whose goal was to develop and implement a prototype of the project on a 1: 1 scale.
In 2013, the Vienna University of Technology won the US Solar Decathlon competition with its LISI project. Solar Decathlon 2012 – Project Canopea

In the winter semester 2011-2012, the ENSAL ( National School of Architecture of Lyon ) offered a project exercise for master students in their first year of study, during which they learnt more about the knowledge of architectural and structural construction over the course of a semester. The project exercise was a joint venture between the Institute AACC – Architecture, ambiances et cultures constructives the ENSAL, the Institute A & CC – Architecture et cultures constructives, the ENSAG ( Ecole Nationale Superieure d’Architecture de Grenoble ) and Les Grands Ateliers de l’Isle d ‘Abeau (GAIA). It was divided into two modules during the semester: Module 1 – Wood and Steel and Module 2 – Canopea Prototype. In Module 1, the students became familiar with the topic of the Solar Decathlon and planned their own design, which was later partially built in the GAIA. This is how the students got to know the laboratory and its machines. In the second module, a prototype for the project Canopea, the contribution of France to the Solar Decathlon 2012 in Madrid, was implemented. In total, about 40 ENSAL and ENSAG students worked together. The project exercise is also linked to the one-year project and master’s thesis of the second year Masters students of AACC-ENSAL and A & CC-ENSAG. These other approximately 40 students formed the actual team of Canopea, which realized the final building for the Solar Decathlon 2012 competition in Madrid, representing the country and its universities. (31)

AACC module 1: wood-steel

The first task, which was given to the students of the ENSAL ( Ecole Nationale Supérieure d ‘Architecture de Lyon ), was the development of a draft for a building made of wood and steel, of 10x10m and 6m height, which addressed the themes of ecological living, environmental friendliness and energy autonomy. The students were divided into teams of five and had to present a finished design within three days. A team (of which I was a member) was then chosen as the winner, with our Ribbon House project and, together with the other students, had to develop this project within two days in such a way that it also included the advantages of the other designs created. The students of ENSAG ( Ecole Nationale Supérieure d ‘Architecture de Grenoble ) were given the same task, resulting in two buildings, which were then built in a one-week seminar in the laboratories of the Grands Ateliers de l’Isle d’Abeau (GAIA) on a scale of 1: 1 (Fig. 24). This was also the time of the first meeting between the students of the two universities (Fig. 25). During the seminar week, both buildings were erected and then dismantled to reuse the materials (Fig. 26). During this time, students were accommodated in a hostel specially set up for GAIA and the local vocational school. The goals of the task were the intensive examination of the aforementioned topics, as well as the materials of wood and steel; getting to know the laboratory GAIA, its tools and its staff; as well as team building between the two universities.

AACC Module 2: Canopea – Prototype

This was followed by field trips to improve exchanges between the two universities, joint lectures and the presentation of the Canopea project by the students of the previous year, who qualified for the Solar Decathlon 2012 through the international competition (Fig. 27, Fig. 28). The aim of the second module was to detail and implement a prototype of the building on a scale of 1: 1. The students of the universities then worked together for another five days on work plans, material lists, cost estimates, construction schedules and details. For example, a replacement for solar modules made of wood and fabric was designed and fabric lamellae used as sunscreen replacement for later-quality metal lamellae (Fig. 29). The budget for this prototype was roughly 12000 €.The students then went to the GAIA Laboratory for a second time for eight days to realize their planned prototype (Fig. 30). In teams of two to ten people, the individual elements were prefabricated and later assembled (Fig. 31, Fig. 32). As on a construction site, a local construction supervisor took over the organization, problem solving and documentation from five students.

The aim of this prototype was the early detection of problems in the prefabrication of the final building, learning to handle wood and steel, and the discovery of new ideas and solutions by the students. Also, by demonstrating the project, the prototype was intended to facilitate sponsorship and partners for the Solar Decathlon 2012.
The project exercise ended with the dismantling of the prototype one month after its establishment in January 2012 by the students, and the handing over of the findings to the team Canopea, consisting of the students of the second master year, for further use (Fig. 33). This then won the overall prize in October 2012 at the Solar Decathlon in Madrid (Fig. 34).


Fig. 33 The team in front of the finished Canopea prototype – December 2012


Fig. 34 Canopea at the Solar Decathlon in Madrid – October 2012 AMàCO / ARCHES / CCD

In 2011, GAIA ( Les Grands Ateliers de l’Isle d’Abeau), together with the ASTUS platform, sought an extension. In the fallow area east of the GAIA, a “city of sustainable construction” was to be created: a major project of around ten million euros (Fig. 35).
The extension is divided into the three parts AMáCO – Atelier matières à construire, a pedagogical center for the study of primary building materials such as sand, water, earth, straw and wood with a focus on sustainable construction. ARCHES, an extension of Grands Ateliers for the function of building prototypes on a 1: 1 scale, built by member universities in collaboration with companies and the ASTUS platform. (32) Plateforme ASTUS

The municipality of Port d’Isere, part of the Rhone-Alpes region, is characterized by a tradition of urban development innovation, such as the 80s village terre; an experimental district of earthenware. Companies that have been around for a long time also installed and built their research centers there. Today, more than 60% of French research on concrete, textile cements and glass takes place in this region. (33) With an awareness of this, GAIA ( Les Grands Ateliers de l’Isle d’Abeau), universities of architecture, engineering and art and the CSTB ( Center Scientifique et Technique du Bâtiment ) gathered under one roof and tried to simplify the teaching of architectural design and sustainable construction, through experiments on a scale of 1: 1. The community association Vallons de la Tour and the municipal association Port de l’Isere have committed themselves to make these existing competences for sustainable constructions more visible.


Fig. 35 Aerial collage of planned expansion GAIAs (2011)

Supported by the Rhone-Alpes region, as part of the large-scale project Rhône-Alpes Nord-Isère durable in September 2012, the municipal associations of Vallons de la Tour, Port dl’Isere, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Pôle innovations constructives, (34) the association of the Bourgoigne-Jallieu vocational training center for construction, the French Federation of Building Rhone-Alpes, private investors and the GAIA formed the platform ASTUS Construction and finance investments around the GAIA, with 5.2 million euros.
This association aims to further encourage the actors, who are already individually working on issues of sustainable construction, to offer suggestions and services to companies that will in future be testing materials, their compositions or design processes, thereby experimenting and tracking the performances, in order to facilitate the diffusion of innovations and the management of intellectual property. By developing collaborative work between companies in this new network and an economic model, the financial autonomy of this association should be ensured within three years. Whether this was actually the case could not be determined exactly. (35) Analysis

Before the construction of the site in L’ Isle d’Abeau, Les Grands studios had been working for over 25 years on building a cooperative and mutually supportive architectural teaching and research landscape, with universities on the one hand and with companies and local authorities on the other, starting small and growing over time. GAIA has already been able to add significant value to technical education institutions and the French economy, both in terms of innovation and the spread of active pedagogy. Although initially the sociocultural component was not treated as an issue, in its capacity as a teaching and research laboratory it contributed to the growth of the L’Isle d’Abeau area. An interesting feature is that they do not try to be an independent, self-contained apparatus but rather an extension of the existing university landscape and its infrastructure, and a new hub of communication between educational institutions. The focus here is always on the provision of resources and premises for teaching and research at universities, only secondarily are interests of companies and their interest groups added. And this only to the extent that teaching and research at universities is supported, both in terms of knowledge and budget. However, since universities are a public corporation and the GAIA ( Les Grands Ateliers de l’Isle d’Abeau ), as a non-profit organization, in principle have no interest in copyright, patents or secrecy, and are primarily interested in the publication of their work, it is questionable how far this actually works within the existing competence network of the companies around GAIA.
For companies, value is created in the economization of innovation and research results. Therefore, the added value of free-market cooperation must bring economic benefits to the business. GAIA, along with other institutions, has apparently been able to help these companies recognize the added value of cooperative activities, namely the reduction of costs for their own research centers through the cooperative exchange of knowledge and the division of labor with other companies in order to bring about faster innovation and to stand up as a collective for the use of their products. Of course, this can only work as long as the labor market has enough space for all those involved in this collective. It therefore remains to be seen how this cooperation will evolve. Of course, for GAIA this cooperation gives the same advantage of cooperative knowledge exchange, as well as the third-party funding of its projects and that of its university members. The fact that the GAIA focus on university teaching and research also proves current projects such as the AMaCO or the ARCHES, which are based purely on this to be an extension and opportunity for cooperation for universities. The GAIA also helps to update the teaching content in schools and universities with the latest achievements in their research. Not forgetting the social aspect of a studio, which brings together interdisciplinary and inter-university forces and thus can contribute to a new understanding of architecture, especially through the connection to the teaching operation from the first semester. To date, one of the first missions, that of information and dissemination, could not be implemented. The platform CR2M was not discovered until the end of this work. From the point of view of this work, the dissemination of publications mainly takes place via the member universities and their websites or publications. Whether there are publications on the topic of propagated active pedagogy actually could not be determined.

2.1.2 Autodesk Pier 9

Public relations and the dissemination of information are increasingly important areas for universities, but they are also becoming increasingly difficult, as new media has opened up a large number of new distribution channels. A factor that companies, especially in the field of technology, already recognize and apply. One such company is the CAD company Autodesk. Its Pier 9 project was a Maker Lab or Think Tank , opened in 2013. The idea is that all forms of fabrication equipment can be brought together and used by two groups of people: on the one hand employees of the company Autodesk, who are to develop new software for the machines, and on the otherr, artists in residence , who are to exploit the possibilities of this, in order to gain new perspectives. (36)

Fig. 36 Visualization Autodesk Pier 9 Location, personnel, utilization

The building of the Autodesk Pier 9 extends the full length of the pier in the San Francisco Bay, bordered by a stucco façade facing the street. In the middle, the building crosses an internal gangway with a false exterior facade, formerly the loading lane. To the left and right of each is a side wing. The Autodesk Pier 9 is located only in the south-eastern wing (Fig. 36). The ground floor houses the various workshops, each with their own thematic wall-aesthetics. For example, the wood workshop is panelled in plywood, the metal workshop in steel and the 3D print laboratory in smooth glossy white. The metal workshop is the only one that covers the entire height of the building. Architectural Relation to the exterior arises via the rolling gates, which lead to an outdoor area next to the water. On the first floor are the offices (Fig. 37). A suspended pedestrian bridge connects visual and acoustic relationships with the first floor and the ground floor. (37)

Fig. 37 Visualising Section of Autodesk Pier 9 History

In 1991, the city government of San Francisco in the US decided to dismantle the old Embarcadero Freeway, which was badly damaged in 1989 by the Loma Prieta earthquake, and instead build a large promenade boulevard. This urban change triggered a large number of new projects in the former industrial area, many of them tech startups. Along the new boulevard stretches a multitude of uniformly built piers occupied by old warehouses. In 2013, Autodesk also joined these resettled companies and refurbished Pier 9 in order to devote itself to new design and fabrication technologies to enhance and test its products. The architect of the revitalization and conversion measures was Olle Lundberg and his office Lundberg Design from San Francisco. (38)

Fig. 38 Interior view of the Autodesk Pier 9 – workshop, bridge, offices (upper floor) Public Relations / Instructables

An interesting aspect of Pier 9, and as a result of the company Autodesk, is its publicity on the do-it-yourself (DIY) platform. Instructables was originally created in 2005 by Eric Wilhelm and Saul Griffith for their company Squidlabs to share design ideas from their studio with the public. Instructables was separated from the company in 2006 and became increasingly popular with the Internet community. Today it is the largest DIY platform on the Internet with 31 million unique visits per month. (39) It is characterized by its simplicity, and at the same time provides a high level of convenience in the creation of instructions. In 2011, Autodesk bought the company to use Instructables for publishing projects, especially projects from Autodesk software teams 123D, Sketchbook, Homestyler and Pixelr. In addition, new ideas and applications for their products were to be found. Since 2013, the Instructables team has also been working in Pier 9, publishing projects on the platform. These projects are well received by the Internet public, especially as they mostly go in a more populist, usable-tech direction. (40)

Fig. 39 The internet platform Analysis

Autodesk is just one of the few companies that have attempted to leap on the bandwagon of the Maker Movement over the past decade. The added value for the companies for the comparatively low cost, is, among other things, positive advertising in the online community, Innovations and new patents, beta labs for software and hardware, and the direct recruitment of talent. Pier 9 projects will be released on the Instructables under the Creative Commons License. This means that replicated projects may only be used for non-commercial purposes and must always be provided with a copyright notice. But which projects are actually published? Since Autodesk is a multinational corporation, of course, the only projects that are published are those that the company can not use itself, and that do not give it a competitive advantage. Here, Autodesk has the advantage, unlike others, that they mainly distribute software solutions and that the company’s interest in the marketing of 3D printers, design chairs and the like is limited. Therefore, it is mainly end products and small-scale elements which are suitable for positive publicity marketing to a large target audience, that are designed and fabricated. Actual innovative and research-related achievements are rare. Nevertheless, the Pier 9 is a positive example for companies and universities in the field of marketing, publishing and communication, especially in terms of the possibilities for publication, communication and community building. With the inclusion of, the industry has become accustomed to open source, similar to the now discontinued Google Code project, a pioneer in corporate talent fishing.

2.2 Temporary laboratories

Laboratories for teaching and research in architecture not only exist as buildings installed in one place, such as GAIA ( Les Grands Ateliers de l’Isle d’Abeau ), but also often appear as temporarily appropriated spaces.

2.2.1 EASA (European Assembly of Students of Architecture)

Fig. 40 Aerial view of Veliko Tarnovo, venue of EASA 2014

When speaking of temporary laboratories, a major event by the architectural student society should not go unmentioned. The EASA ( European Assembly of Students of Architecture ) is a Europe-wide organization of architecture students that manifests itself in a series of meetings and a networked community. It consists mainly of representatives from approximately 50 nations in Europe, where the term members refer to all persons who have already participated in an EASA event. It is a non-profit, self-managed structure without an organizational hierarchy. There is neither a central financial structure nor a central information point, such as a common internet presence. The two representatives from each country are called National Contacts. They decide on the future of the organization, take care of the exchange of knowledge and are the contact people for the architecture students of the respective countries. The two main events are the EASA ( European Assembly of Students of Architecture ) and the INCM ( International National Contact Meeting ). These are held annually. The biggest event, is the EASA, where around 600 architecture students from all over Europe meet for two weeks each year to exchange ideas and socialize in workshops. (41)

Fig. 41 Group photo of the participants at EASA 2014 in front of the Asnevtsi monument The Place

The venues of EASA ( European Assembly of Students of Architecture ) and INCM ( International National Contact Meeting ) are awarded to a different European country each year. Thus one can speak of temporary laboratories. In the main event, EASA, the country’s organization team has the task of finding a suitable venue, usually a medium-sized city. It then negotiates with the heads of states and other stakeholders on aspects such as housing, infrastructure and budget. The organizing team has a very good position at the negotiating table due to its many years of success and the public attention that the event brings to the city. For example, in 2014, the city of Veliko Tarnovo in Bulgaria applied for the European Capital of Culture 2019 and hoped to gain with EASA an competitive advantage against other cities, an awareness of the population for the subject, as well as ideas and constructions for the valorization of the city . It was therefore in the interest of the national leaders that the event would be a success. A school closed during the summer holidays, as well as a building used for youth camps were provided as accommodation. Vacant conference rooms were adapted for the workshops and building permits were granted for larger constructions. The city employees helped with earth excavation, laid water, electricity and telecommunications lines, and much more. Based on this, EASA participants could then emanate into the city and realize their projects.These ranged from temporary art installations, to the construction of a boathouse on the Yantra River running through the city, to the construction of an outdoor stage next to the city’s historical landmark, the Asenevtsi Monument . History

According to an article by Conor O’Brien, EASA began in Liverpool in 1981; initiated by Richard Murphy and Geoff Haslam as a follow-up to the ideas of Brian Anson’s Winter Schools in Britain in the late 1970s. Anson was one of the founders of the ARC ( Architect Revolution Council ) and the SAC ( Schools of Architecture Council ), which emerged from his discussions with architects such as Peter Cook on the relevance of the integration of society in the architectural process. He felt that his colleagues were following the wrong path and tried to find an alternative future for the architectural profession. Together with 800 architecture students from Great Britain, he tried in 1979 to establish new teaching systems in a meeting. However, the SAC was very soon dissolved and its successor by Anson’s students Richard Murphy and Geoff Halsam, was the so-called Winter Schools in Liverpool, which became an international character, as in 1981 they sent invitations to students from across Europe. Finally in 1981 the first European Architecture Student Assembly took place (EASA). (42) The final statement of this workshop declares that its success lies in not being just a simple collection of individual factors. It’s the whole process; the chemistry of being together. Today, EASA defines itself as a platform for the exchange of ideas and knowledge for European architecture students. (43) EASA – the event

The bottom line of the organization EASA ( European Architecture Student Assembly ) is an annual seminar of the same name. Architecture students and those interested come together in one place to exchange views on architecture and art over a period of two weeks in workshops, lectures and projects. Essentially, the event comprises of 600 people per year, consisting of 400 participants and National Contacts as well as 200 tutors, helpers and hosts. The budget and resources for the event vary greatly each year due to factors such as the level of sponsorship and the gross domestic product of the country in which it takes place. Fixed revenues come from the registration fees, which represent the bulk of the budget. Here, the fees vary from country to country, based on the respective gross domestic product in which EASA takes place. For example, in 2014, an Austrian participant paid € 300 fee to EASA Bulgaria in Veliko Tarnovo, while for participants from Latvia it was € 100. These finances are managed from year to year by the respective organizers of the event. In 2014, a total of approximately one million euros came together.

The organization of each event is divided between hosts, assistants, tutors, national contacts and participants. Hosts form the organizational team and consist mainly of architecture students from the respective host country. The number varies greatly from year to year, depending on how many people from the country can be motivated to work. The hosts take care of the preparation and follow-up, as well as the main organization during the event such as sponsoring, accommodation, selection of workshops and lectures, contact with the city and much more. The next level is the helpers. They usually arrive a week earlier and stay until one week after the event ends. They support the organizers and the tutors of the workshops and take care of the dissemination of information, the distribution of resources and the like. These two groups do not participate in the workshops. This is different for the tutors, the National Contacts and the participants.

To organize a workshop, the tutors must apply several months before the start of the event. Most of them are themselves architectural students or young architects or artists. The hosts then decide among the submissions for about 40 workshops. The diversity of these workshops ranges from artistic and architectural installations in public spaces, through theater projects and digital design, to the temporary installation of a festival radio and a magazine to disseminate information during the event (Figure 41). The standards range from permanent realizations on a scale of 1: 1 to temporary performances (Fig. 42, Fig. 43, Fig. 44).


Fig. 42 Boathouse at Yantra-River, built at EASA 2014

Fig. 43 Anti-Room, permanent installation, EASA 2014

Fig. 44 Pavilion made of cardboard rolls, EASA 2014

The National Contacts act as middlemen between the organizers and the participants of their countries. In order to select the participants for the next EASA, national competitions will be held in each country. Mainly, these consist of a letter of motivation, a portfolio or the preparation of a project, where there are no strict rules. Eight architecture students can participate in each country, including National Contacts. (44) Unlike the hosts and helpers, however, they also participate in the workshops (Fig. 45).

Fig. 45 Presentation of the organizational structure of the event EASA

In addition to attending the workshops, the participants also have responsibilities for ensuring the infrastructure. For example, they alternately take over kitchen, cleaning and security services and organize an international evening, a tradition in which each country represents itself with food, drinks and cultural peculiarities (Fig. 46).

After a big closing party, usually with everyone involved, the accommodation is given up and the participants and National Contacts leave. The organizational team and the helpers, who finish the follow-up of the event one week later, remain behind. It often happens that a workshop does not manage to complete its project in a timely manner despite the help of all its forces. In this case, the tutors of the project often remain with interested participants and try to bring it to a satisfactory conclusion. This was the case in 2014 in Veliko Tarnovo with the Skywalk project (Fig. 47).

Fig. 46 Food distribution at EASA 2014 by other participants

Fig. 47 Skywalk – permanent viewing platform in Veliko Tarnovo (2014) INCM

The EASA event is held annually. The decision on where the next event should take place is made two years in advance at a specially organized event, the INCM ( International National Contacts Meeting ). Here, all National Contacts meet over a weekend at a changing location in Europe. The goal is networking, knowledge sharing and the presentation of contenders for the next venue of EASA. Two or more countries present their theme, their program, and demonstrate that they can handle this big event both in terms of budget and organization. Afterwards, it is decided in a grassroots voting procedure which country will be elected in two years time. The events of the INCM are basically open to all interested EASA members, which is why some see it as a small EASA event. Every year, approximately 150 people attend. Analysis

The urge for social and collective learning experiments is a phenomenon of the 1960s and 1970s and therefore hardly new. However, at present, one can observe a significant increase in these countercultures to the pedagogy practiced at universities, especially in countries where the architectural education system works in a more linear fashion, with annual stages to be completed. EASA is an extreme in this sense, as it has never lost its roots in grassroots democracy and political commitment, and yet, despite the organization’s horizontal structure, continues to count 600 players each year from across Europe. Rosina Shatarova, a former participant and tutor at EASA 2014, listed initiatives including the Antiuniversity London and the Ghost Architectural Laboratory in New Scotland, Canada. (45)
Its loosely-changing structure is a trait that gives the EASA ( European Architecture Student Assembly ) the opportunity to evolve in ever-changing directions based on the thoughts of its members. At the same time it is also extremely vulnerable to failure and abuse of power. This manifests itself, among other things, in the existing friends economy and the (non-) publication of information. For example, whether or not you have the opportunity to participate in EASA depends, primarily on the ambition of the National Contacts to inform your country’s students of architecture about upcoming events, to enable them to compete fairly or even to get to know them. The National Contacts organize themselves with a variety of results, however, there are no official documentations or publications regarding this. In principle, it is only published by individuals on Facebook and other websites, or by scientific papers such as those by Rosina Shatarova. (46) Again and again, members criticise the lack of a central information point, but this is due to the loose and temporary structure, because usually after one year no one knows who is actually responsible.
An interesting aspect of the EASA ( European Architecture Student Assembly ) is the socio-cultural activation of the venue. A crowd of 600 motivated young people enter a place for two weeks and experiment with it. These experiments can deal intensively with the needs of the residents. It can also be an attempt to give an objective view of the resident, or even to not deal with residents. However, if they engage with residents and reach acceptance by the public, the sociocultural, cultural and architectural results can be extremely positive for both the participants and the city. Whether this relationship is a goal of EASA and whether these interventions are successful, depends in principle on all participants: the organizers, the participants, the tutors, the selection of the workshops and the venue.

Fig. 48 Einweihung einer Installation bei EASA 2014 mit der Bevölkerung

Holding EASA in a city like Vienna, for example, would be less attention-grabbing than hosting it in Graz or Übelbach, but it might mean greater acceptance and open-mindedness from the city. Exact formulas for the success of such an endeavor do not exist, and the choice of where EASA should take place is not solely dependent on this factor, though it can influence decision-making. A well organized EASA can be a give and take between the place and the parasite, the architecture student. A poorly organized EASA can strengthen people’s belief that architects in ivory towers want to make decisions about their lives (Figure 48).

2.2.2 Bellastock

The Bellastock project in France is a similar initiative to the European Architecture Student Assembly (EASA ), but with a different structure, very similar to the GAIA ( Les Grands Ateliers de l’Isle d’Abeau ). Bellastock is an experimental architecture association originally set up by French architecture students to promote the valorisation of areas and their socio-cultural resources through alternative design options. The main focus here is on the human scale, construction site logistics, energy planning, recycling and the principles and processes of construction. (47)

Fig. 49 Bellastock 2012 – Construction of the dwellings on the ‰rst day

„Bellastock analyzes, investigates and proposes new innovative and adapted actions based on its expertise in resource recycling, endogenous regeneration, and disseminating this knowledge to professionals, students and the masses.“ (48)

Fig. 50 Bellastock 2012 – Overview of the built city

The Bellastock Association describes its methods as the development of collaborative projects by gathering a variety of actors who would otherwise rarely meet; the reintegration of experimental activities into the practice of architecture to ultimately find constructive solutions that adapt to the place of intervention; the analysis, development and dissemination of measures carried out with the aim of finding practically useful conclusions for the society and the building industry; and increasing the sensitivity and knowledge of the professionals, students and inhabitants in an area. (49)
The main event of Bellastock is an eponymous annual architecture festival. The participants are invited to design structures and later to realize them on a scale of 1: 1, which they then live in for the duration of the festival. These structures must therefore provide protection against wind, sun and rain. In principle, tents are not allowed, except in emergency situations (Fig. 49). (50) Place and History

Bellastock was founded by architecture students in 2006 at the École d ‘architecture de Paris-Belleville. They wanted to draw attention to the lack of practical handling of materials and so organized an architecture festival, in which a short-lived experimental city could emerge (Fig. 50). The first three editions of the festival from 2006-2008 were still held without a specific theme and with around 90-120 participants. Then, starting in 2009, changing themes and material topics were set annually and the festival was advertised in all architecture universities in France. In 2010 you could already count 600, then by 2012 1100 participants. The themes and materials used in the past have been europallets, sand, microfilm, the pompous city, waterworld, greenwashing, mobility and recyclable materials ( Le Grand Détournement ) (Fig. 51). (51)

Fig. 51 Bellastock 2012 – Participants line up for materials

Since 2011, Bellastock has been able to establish itself as an association of experimental architecture in Paris and, in cooperation with the city, has had the opportunity to set up the Act-Lab in the emerging eco-district, the L’Ile-Saint-Denis (ill. 52).

Fig. 52 Act-Lab Paris, L´Île-Saint-Denis – Plan

Bellastock’s mission is to experiment with prototypes of materials recycled from construction sites, and to give those interested, such as future residents, neighbors, artists, architects and contractors, a new perspective on the fabric of the city . On June 14, 2016, the first buildings in the new eco-district were completed, and by 2022 the project is to be completed. (52)
Also in 2011, when French architecture students went on a study exchange to Denmark, they organized the first foreign Bellastock festival in Aarhus. 70 participants constructed a temporary city of 10,000 beer crates and 300 Euro pallets (Fig. 53).

Fig. 53 Bellastock in Denmark

Thereafter, the concept of the architecture festival expanded into the international space and has since been organized in China, Turkey, Canada, Chile, Mexico, Greece, Spain and Belgium. Today, the Bellastock club counts eight full-time employees and about 50 volunteers. (53) Analysis

ellastock is a good example of how students who lack something in their teaching at the university can take their own initiative and eventually become a permanent institution out of something originally intended to be purely temporary. Due to the openness of the teaching staff at the universities, the other students could also be involved in the curriculum subjects. For example, the light towers and organizational accommodation for the site were designed and built in 2012 for the festival. By building up an international reputation, opportunities also developed outside of the university environment. But the greatest trick of the initiative is probably that even if the original festival in Paris does not take place in the future, the idea would be continued internationally, as its many offshoots prove. The original organizers have managed to establish their motivation and their enthusiasm through already existing inter-university communication channels, such as exchange students, who take the experiences and ideas back home after one year. They have established a flagship model for student initiative and at the same time shown the universities that they should not view such activities as an attack on their teaching and be defensive or even ignore them, but rather view them as a means of self-evaluation and the beginning of successful symbioses and, ultimately, international renown.

2.3 Summary analysis

Several teaching and research laboratories have been analyzed in the previous chapters. From this analysis, a list of factors can be compiled and a statement made about their significance for the success of the respective laboratory.


The GAIA ( Les Grands Ateliers de L’Isle d’Abeau ) is characterized by the fact that it provides a constant extension for several universities in the area. Its central location between Lyon, Grenoble and St. Etienne in the Rhone-Alpes region allows the universities in these three cities to hold both large-scale teaching and research projects in the GAIA. Seminars held there can take from one day to several weeks. For this to work, all those involved in the project must be able to reach the teaching and research laboratories within a reasonable travel time from their place of residence or the location of their university. This should be ensured for both individual passenger transport and public transport. The definition of a reasonable arrival time depends on many factors, not least the subjective perception of the traveler. By comparing with other facilities that make similar demands on the arrival time, however, one can consider the different approaches. It can therefore be said that accessibility by both public and private passenger transport plays an important role in the functioning of the GAIA and similar facilities. This is different at events like Bellastock and EASA (Both accessibility by public and individual passenger services play an important role in the functioning of the GAIA and similar facilities. Here the arrival and departure of the participants must be facilitated only once at the beginning and at the end of the event. At Autodesk Pier 9, accessibility from remote locations is less of an issue, as it employs mainly full-time staff, who also live in the city of San Francisco. External groups such as the Artists in Residence will provide accommodation in the area.

Accommodation and supply

The problem of accommodation occurs when seminars are held that last for one week or more, as occurs, for example, at the GAIA ( Les Grands Ateliers de L’Isle d’Abeau ). In order to avoid the daily commute, students and lecturers are accommodated at an externally managed hostel near the site during this time. The costs for students and lecturers are covered by the universities. The students self organize the cooking in the common kitchen of the GAIA. Recreational activities such as sitting together in the evenings also mainly take place there, especially as there are no other options in the immediate vicinity, thus keeping costs for students to a minimum.
The issue of accommodation takes on another level of significance at events such as Bellastock and the EASA ( European Architecture Student Assembly), because instead of 15-50 people, between 500 and 1200 people need to be cared for at the same time. At the Bellastock Festival, this problem is solved by the participants building their own accommodation on the first day using the material at their disposal. The food and sanitation services are provided by the organizing team, so that participants can concentrate on their work during the four days. At the EASA (European Architecture Student Assembly), the city will provide accommodation depending on the venue. For example, in Bulgaria in 2014 accommodation was provided in a high school that was vacant over the summer. The cleaning, food preparation and distribution are based in the hostel on the principle of rotating service plans.

Regional effects

In this respect, the socio-cultural impact of the various teaching and research laboratories should be expressed in terms of their immediate geographical environment. With the Autodesk Pier 9, this question can be answered relatively simply as it has virtually no sociocultural relevance for its location in the San Francisco Bay, because it is a self-contained structure. The publication platform is more likely to be credited as making a socio-cultural contribution in the international field. This is more difficult at the GAIA ( Les Grands Ateliers de L’Isle d’Abeau ) which, through their seminars and festivals, as well as their role as the hub of the industry in the region and the partner universities, aim to add value to their immediate environment. On the one hand, there is little contact with the people of L’Isle d’Abeau and the students. This is based, on the other hand, on the fact that, given the lack of surrounding possibilities, evening leisure activities are held in the premises of the GAIA. Also the local food supply happens through the students themselves cooking together. This is different for temporary events such as the EASA ( European Architecture Student Assembly ), in which close contact with the population is inevitable. Most workshops held in these two weeks interact directly with the city, its architecture and its population. Many of the installations remain a permanent part of the city even years later. Whether the socio-cultural exchange between the population and the participants from all over Europe will be fruitful and leave their mark, depends on the participants and the results of the workshops.
The Bellastock Festival differs in that the constructions are purely temporary and are dismantled on the last day, and the venue is usually an area delimited from the public. However, on the second and third day of the event, there are opening hours and guided tours for the public and politicians. These are intended to highlight the possibilities of sustainable building with recycled materials and thus make visitors aware of the topic. In principle, however, it is a closed event with little contact with its immediate surroundings.


Something that both the GAIA ( Les Grands Ateliers de L’Isle d’Abeau), Bellastock and the EASA ( European Architecture Student Assembly ) have in common is the resources of their budget. For all three laboratories, the budget is accumulated from national subsidies, industrial sponsors and participation fees, which in the case of the GAIA are borne by the respective universities. It is also interesting that the GAIA and the EASA have an almost identical annual budget of just under one million euros, but the time span over which it is used is quite different. Where the GAIA uses its budget continuously throughout the year, this happens in a flash within just two weeks at EASA. Also the number of participants is interesting. According to the annual report of the GAIA (Les Grands Ateliers de L’Isle d’Abeau ) in 2011, 8739 people worked there. In contrast, in 2014 the EASA ( European Architecture Student Assembly ) involved 600 participants. (54) In fact, these values ​​are not comparable, because you have to include the facts that, at EASA far more expensive materials, tools and machines are purchased and that the entire food supply is supported by this budget, which is not the case with the GAIA. Also, there are no staff costs at EASA. A real lightweight compared to these two institutions is the Festival Bellastock. It happens annually over the duration of four days with a budget of 100,000 euros. Comparatively, when calculated to 14 days, (the duration of the EASA) this would come to 350,000 euros for 1100 people, the number of participants from Bellastock in 2011. This is due to the fact that at Bellastock mainly recycled materials are used, the venue is a concentrated area, therefore less machinery is needed and the infrastructure has to be maintained for only 4 days. The budget, if you divide it by the number of participants, is for GAIA 114 € / pers., EASA 1666 € / pers. and for Bellastock 90 € / pers. (55)
The Autodesk Pier 9 is funded by the company Autodesk itself, which is a private company. As a result, there is no meaningful budget description. However, I assume that the annual budget of Pier 9 is much higher than that of the GAIA ( Les Grands Ateliers de L’Isle d’Abeau).


In summary, we can say that only in the GAIA ( Les Grands Ateliers de l’Isle d’Abeau ) is teaching recognized as separable from research. There is also an actual teacher there. At EASA ( European Architecture Student Assembly ) the teacher, or tutor, is usually not (or imperceptibly) older than the participants and takes more of a role as the team leader. At Bellastock, the team leader also falls away and knowledge is shared in a horizontal structure. Only the GAIA, where regular lectures are held and anchored in the concept of the institution and the curriculum of the university, is firmly anchored in university teaching. At Bellastock, cooperation with the universities depends on the individual institutions and is renegotiated every year. Autodesk Pier 9 focuses on research and development.


As with teaching, the term research is used very differently in all examples. Here, the Autodesk Pier 9 represents the attitude of letting as many different actors as possible experiment with a variety of tools and machines without establishing a specific goal. Thus the project results can range from a new electric motor, a new 3D printing process, to the invention of a new building material. The GAIA conduct research on a scale of 1: 1 and with concrete goals, for example, focussing on construction techniques and material compositions as well as the ageing of these with earth and sand. At EASA and Bellastock, existing theories such as earthquake-proof constructions are tested or experimented with using the sandbox principle and the result is then analyzed.

The recognition of these factors makes it easier to make a selection of what requirements and goals a teaching and research laboratory in Austria would have to meet.

In order to get an Austrian comparative value for these factors, I visited a teaching facility with similar requirements as the GAIA ( Grands Ateliers de L’Isle d’Abeau) such as its accessibility.

2.3.1      Bauakademie Steiermark

Fig. 54 The workshop building and the multi-purpose hall of the Bauakademie

The Bauakademie is a vocational school for the construction industry founded in 1982 in the federal states of Styria and Burgenland. It is a non-profit association with a chair, which consists of the two regional guilds of Burgenland and Styria and an interest representation for building industry, thus three parties. Their goal is apprenticeship and adult education for the main construction industries. As such, the facility has workshop buildings, apprentice accommodation and seminar rooms (Figure 54). Between 400 and 500 apprentices per year complete their cycle for a duration of three weeks. Furthermore, 10,000 adult education courses per year are completed. The facility is financed by the annual levies of companies in the construction industry. The apprentices are housed in a fully-fledged 30-bed boarding school during their period of rotation, as most are still minors. According to the interview with Mr. Windisch, the managing director of the Bauakademie, the trainees travel by car from their place of residence for up to 45 minutes each way, and they travel 30 minutes from Graz to work. Übelbach has its own motorway exit and train connections. There are good connections with no changes or waiting times but these only run in the morning and in the evening. Mr Windisch is satisfied with the relationship of the Bauakademie with the town of Übelbach, as they are, for example, the second largest employer and thus contribute a large amount to the budget of the city. The apprentices have very little contact with the population, except at the tobacconist, the supermarket and the bank.

When asked whether there is international cooperation in teaching, Mr. Windisch’s reaction was reserved. He believes that cooperation with other countries, such as Slovenia and Croatia, makes no sense, as they are very far behind Austria in the European qualifications framework (EU initiative for a better comparison of competences in Europe). As a result, he does not see what the Austrian building doctrine has to learn from them. (56)  Location and personnel

The complex of the building academy is divided into a building for the administration and the boarding school, a building for the dining room (which also serves as a multipurpose room) and the kitchen, a building with 12 classrooms and a cafeteria. There are also four workshop buildings, each of which is equipped with a sanitary facility and a changing room, as well as basic machinery for wood and reinforcement cutting. There is also a multipurpose hall, divided into four sections, of which three sections are used as a workshop and warehouse, and another as a museum of construction. The complex was built in four sections (Fig. 55). (59)

Fig. 55 Site plan of Bauakademie  Analysis

I can agree that the location is well connected, particularly given its central location in Styria, if public transport is used at the specific times when there are direct connections. As the apprentices always stay there for three weeks, this does not present such a problem for this interest group. In contrast to this however, are the adult education courses, which usually take place in the evening or at the weekend. Here you have to plan at least 30 additional minutes to Graz because you have to wait for the train. There can also be no question of a social activation of the place, since the building academy functions as a closed system and social activities take place between the apprentices in the boarding school and in the recreational spaces provided. Mr. Windisch’s statement regarding cooperation with foreign countries is revealing. Throughout our whole discussion, it seemed to me, that as an “Austrian Quality Location,” they look down on other countries and see themselves as not much more than disinterested teachers to them. It was also briefly mentioned that it is becoming increasingly difficult for Austrian companies to hold their own against the competition from abroad and therefore there is less interest in cooperation or even in promoting quality.

3  Design

At the beginning of every consideration of a teaching and research laboratory in Austria, which is analogous to the GAIA ( Les Grands Ateliers de l’Isle d’Abeau ) in France, it is important, among other things, to be clear about its objectives. The definition of the main actors is also essential. Therefore, in this example, an attempt is made to set this out as clearly as possible in a draft. A spatial program is developed, considerations for requirements for a suitable location are described, and opportunities for teaching and research as well as socio-cultural activation are presented. When one speaks of the implementation of such a draft, political actors and agendas also play a major role, but as already described in the introduction, the laying of these foundations is not part of this work.

3.1   The OÖLFZ

In the following it is assumed, as a hypothesis, that the teaching and research institutions of architecture, art and civil engineering of the Graz and Vienna sites have set themselves the goal of merging their forces in teaching and research and looking for a possible space in which to realize projects together. In the following, this new laboratory with the name OÖLFZ (Ostösterreichisches Lehr- und Forschungszentrum) is described. The aim is to create a new teaching and research laboratory to strengthen the Graz-Vienna connection, with an additional emphasis on involving locations located to the east and southeast of Austria, such as Maribor, Ljubljana, Zagreb and Budapest.

3.1.1      Location

The accessibility of the OÖLFZ (Ostösterreichisches Lehr- und Forschungszentrum) from the locations of the various participating institutions is of great importance and should be ensured both in terms of individual passenger transport and public transport. How long may the journey time be from the participating teaching and research institutions to the location? This question is not easy to answer, because the strongly subjective feelings of the traveller play a role. Thus, only approximations can be made, based on the comparing with institutions with similar reachability requirements. In order to construct such an approximation as accurately as possible, a comparison is made with the GAIA ( Les Grands Ateliers de L’Isle d’Abeau ) and the Bauakademie der Steiermark in Übelbach. The additional inclusion of this Austrian institution for the teaching of construction in the comparison, will make it possible to make a more precise statement.

It is also important to know how much time the students, lecturers and research staff spend at the location or how often they visit the facility. When students visit the GAIA ( Les Grands Ateliers de L’Isle d’Abeau ), for example, they tend to visit between once and three times per semester, whereas the research staff may need to travel from the area every day. The further away the distance to a university or educational institution, the more unreasonable it is for students to make multiple journeys over the period of a semester. Therefore, in this work a subdivision into primary, secondary, tertiary and quaternary cooperation partners is undertaken. For each group a maximum journey time with individual passenger transport is assumed. These are assumed to be 60 minutes for the primary group, 90 minutes for the secondary group and 120 minutes for the tertiary group. The quaternary group includes all institutions with a journey time of more than 120 minutes. In terms of GAIA ( Les Grands Ateliers de l’Isle d’Abeau) for example, this means that the primary university sites are located in Lyon and Grenoble, the secondary in St. Etienne, and the tertiary in Clermont Ferrand. With a journey time of almost five hours, the Paris location joins the quaternary group.

Where it is still reasonable for the primary and secondary groups to commute to GAIA on a daily basis, tertiary and quaternary groups will not be able to participate in these activities unless accommodation is available (Figure 56). These groups largely coincide with the catchment area of ​​the Bauakademie Übelbach. The furthest possible arrival from Styria and Burgenland is approximately two hours (e.g. from Schladming) by private transport, so it is therefore located in the tertiary area. However, most of the target students are in the primary and secondary groups. For example, the distance to Güssing in the east is 107km and the journey by individual passenger takes roughly 90 minutes (Fig. 57).

Fig. 56 Sketch of the accessibility of the Grands Ateliers de l‘Isle d‘Abeau

Fig. 57 Sketch of the accessibility of the Bauakademie Übelbach

To illustrate the accessibility of the building academy, a digital planning tool has been developed, which provides accurate results. The instrument, which can also be used to find potential locations for a future teaching and research laboratory, is based on a geographic process to compute the shortest paths between two points, known as the Djikstra algorithm. It only uses free and freely accessible data and computer programs. It can be used to make a selection of the most suitable locations by entering parameters such as the maximum starting time, the possibility of local supply or the minimum inventory of recreational facilities in the environment, and save the operator the time of a manual selection process. This instrument gives accurate results with an error rate of approximately 2%, as opposed to dragging a circle by one point, which risks the error being up to 30%.

For example, if you want to find out how far you can go by car from the main square in Graz within 60 minutes, you could find an estimate via a route function like the map service You will find a route from the starting point, which takes 60 minutes to drive, in compliance with the statutory speeds. The route Graz-Wolfsburg would be such a relation. It is 78km long and within 60 minutes you have reached your destination. you can now draw a circle with this radius, claiming that all places within that circle can be reached within the target maximum travel time. In order to set up another comparative value, the distance from Graz to St. Peter am Ottersbach was also calculated. The journey time is again 60 minutes, but only 50km (Fig. 58).

Evidently, you cannot make a correct statement about the maximum accessibility by dragging a circle. This results from different sources of error. On the one hand, you do not drive the car in a straight line from A to B, because the route always runs curved to a certain extent. Also, on the highway there is a higher average speed and you can therefore travel longer distances than on a country road, due to both the maximum speed limit and also because there are no junctions or places that must be driven through.

Fig. 58 Presentation of the reachability of Graz in 60 minutes

One possible way of finding an exact statement is to individually calculate the travel time of all possible locations starting from the starting point. In geography there are different methods for the accurate calculation of a distance analysis. One of these methods is the Djikstra method. With this method we can perform a calculation to obtain the shortest path from a point A to a point B over a group of connection nodes. By taking into account the speed limits of a route, such as 130km / h on an Austrian motorway, you get the actual shortest route and travel time to that point. This can be repeated for all points on a map until you have found a travel time for each point B. All resulting travel time values ​​that are over a certain travel time, for example, 60 minutes, are discarded and you get a list of achievable destinations. This calculation can be carried out aided by a computer with the planning instrument.

The basis for the calculations is the freely accessible geospatial data of Openstreetmap, which can be downloaded from the homepage and updated daily.  (60) Geodata is “[…] digital information that can be assigned a specific spatial position on the earth’s surface […]”. (61) The data of Openstreetmap includes not only road networks and place names, but all information that can be accessed through their online map service The possibilities range from bus stations to supermarkets and medical practices to zoning. This information is mainly registered by private individuals throughout the world in their free time. Therefore, it is possible that it does not include all points of interest. However, in recent years, the processing of this missing information has very much increased, by, amongst other things, the inclusion of data from other systems such as city planning offices or the ÖBB (Austrian Federal Railways). This has led to the fact that you can already use the data from for extremely accurate statements. For this example, the geodata for Austria and all neighboring countries was used. (62)

The result of the calculation can then be output as a graphic or list.

To check the accuracy of the result, three points are selected on the map, which according to Djikstra’s calculation should be possible within 30 minutes. According to the route function of the map service the journey time without traffic to Röthelstein (38km) is 30 minutes, to Vogau-Straß (59km) 31 minutes and to Großwilfersdorf (50km) 34 minutes. Based on this review, the error rate of the accessibility analysis was reduced from 30% to about 2% in order to make a statement relevant to this example more than adequate.

Other options for the planning tool would be, for example, the visualization of sports facilities, doctors’ practices and restaurants in the area of ​​accessibility or the analysis of accessibility by public transport.

Fig. 59 Result – accessibility of Graz in 60 minutes (15min-intervals)

3.1.2   Space program and organization

The new teaching and research lab has to combine a multitude of functions under one roof if it wants to offer users all the possibilities of experimentation. It should include tools and machines for traditional and modern processing of materials of the construction and art industries such as wood, metal, plastic, textile, earth, and much more, installed in their own workshop rooms. The GAIA ( Les Grands Ateliers de l’Isle d’Abeau ) have, for example, their own rooms for the processing of wood and metal as well as a CNC machine room. Other machines are set up in the workshop hall according to necessity. In summer there is the possibility to work outside. However, this happens rather inevitably due to lack of space. If you also want to set up large-scale tools of Smart Production such as industrial robots or a digital lab with laser cutters, 3D printers, etc. you have to think about how to install and use all these devices. In the future, different numbers of rooms will be needed, so the building should definitely be modularly expandable and provide space accordingly. Existing devices of the partner institutions in Vienna and Graz, which are rarely used can be taken from these locations and better used in OÖLFZ.

The number and size of the required workshops also plays a major role. These should be able to be individually loaded from outside in their entire height on at least one side in order to also be able to move, deliver and transport larger individual parts without problems, if necessary also with a truck.

The GAIA solve the question of flexible division in order to operate several smaller projects at the same time, with a large hall that can be divided into two rooms by means of protective curtains. This also has the advantage that only one lifting crane is needed. Added to this is the need for material storage, inside and outside. This should also not be underestimated, as prototypes are recycled, new materials are purchased in large quantities, and projects must be temporarily stowed. The outdoor area should be aesthetically inviting and open to its surroundings, to offer the population and passers-by insight, but also be functionally adaptable to provide enough space for larger events and buildings when necessary.

As a secondary infrastructure, a communal kitchen, showroom, offices, cloakrooms, military hospital, lounges and seminar rooms should also be considered. For maximum communication between the different areas, even at low load, visual relationships should play an important role.

In order to be able to best make use of a facility like the OÖLFZ, the teaching also has to be adapted. In principle, this is not about the content of the teaching but about the nature of mediation. By integrating the possibility of practical experimentation up to the scale of 1: 1 into their teaching, the competences of the students are strengthened. Both the basic subjects such as structural engineering and the construction materials science as well as further study subjects such as the deepening of structural engineering and temporary architecture can be held in the OÖLFZ. At the Graz University of Technology approaches of this teaching model already exist in that what is calculated or designed is then also tested. This is the case, for example, in the study of architecture in the course Structural Engineering 1, where bridges are designed, calculated and then built by students, at a length of two meters. However, this building is done in groups in the home with partially unsuitable tools. In other subjects facade parts are designed, but in the end they can not be tested for their effectiveness. The opportunity to experiment with the actual materials on a real scale opens up new perspectives.

Furthermore, the research groups of the respective institutions in the OÖLFZ should expand their respective core competencies through cooperation and joint research innovations. Students are to be involved in, for example, the construction of prototypes in the research, and the results of this can in turn be taught in further education for university members, as well as benefit external actors such as architectural firms, planners, artists. The aim is to ensure a continuous updating of university teaching as well as innovation in the area of ​​the respective trades with the latest achievements of research.

As a unique new center of teaching and research in Austria and its neighboring countries, the founding institutions can also benefit from opening the site to other teaching and research institutions. Not only is the exchange of knowledge foregrounded here, but also through usage, compensation and rental fees, running costs can be reduced.

Another approach would be to consider offering the Autodesk Pier 9 Artist in Residence sites; in this case Architect in Residence or Civil Engineer in Residence. The participants of the program live and experiment for a certain period of time, for example six months, in OÖLFZ and can also be consulted for teaching and research, similarly to the native speakers in schools.

In order to disseminate the results of teaching and research, both nationally and internationally, a contemporary internet presence, based on the platform of the Autodesk Pier 9, is needed. This should also give interested parties the opportunity to interactively contribute to teaching and research and give the founding institutions a central place of representation.

Another point that can be considered extremely important is that socio-cultural communication between OÖLFZ and its surroundings should be both planned and unplanned. This means that the new location should not be too remote, and there should already be a certain density of recreational opportunities on site, which can be used by both the population and the OÖLFZ. These can be sports facilities, guest houses, cultural institutions or shops. The support of the population is strengthened, through direct contact with the population in seminars, events and in everyday life. The place itself is revitalized and new development opportunities for the region are opened up.

Temporary architecture laboratories with up to 1000 people, similar to the Bellastock or the EASA, can address students and architects from all over Europe. The OÖLFZ can serve as a base, and the surrounding open spaces as places of experimentation, both for construction activities and accommodation. So it is advantageous for a location to offer such areas as a sports field or unused fallow land.

These measures can create a new interregional competence center for the Austrian East and its neighboring countries and strengthen communication in line with the European idea.(63)

3.2.3      Outlook

What will the future bring? Architecture is by nature a changing study. It not only adapts to the needs of society, it also tries to set new standards. Due to its influences and direct impact on the life of the population and its built environment, the teaching must be constantly updated. What does an architect have to do? How should an architect work? Which tools should he use? Should he work regionally or compete in international competitions? Fernandez Galiano said in his speech at the 2010 Biennale that for him, the true star architects are the milkmen, the architects who change a city in the background. Those who do not realize a self-glorifying architecture, but like the milkman, which every morning brings the needed milk to the door, acts unnoticed by the population, but is nonetheless an important part of society.

With whom should an architect cooperate? Is he a team player or a lone fighter? Does he work in direct participation with the residents? Each architect has his own ideas of how architecture has to function. One will see the future of the architectural profession in the abstraction of design on paper, pulling the strings in the background, while others see the architect in direct confrontation with the materials and experimentation on a large scale. Vorarlberg and its surrounding regions have increasingly experimented with wood construction companies and set up laboratories in recent decades. Today, the Vorarlberg architectural firms and companies are world leaders in innovative construction with wood and other nature-related materials.

How can innovations be achieved? Should the architect leave the research to the construction industry and only place orders, or should he experiment on his own? Each of these arguments has its own advantages and disadvantages and its right to exist. But the fact is that the architect is in a key position between building, art and society. Through his wide-ranging study of construction, material, statics, social science, history, art, aesthetics, computer science, and much more, he can recognize previously unimagined connections and thus create innovation through the experiment. He is an all-rounder. And that makes the learning of the profession a matter of dispute. What should there be more and less of in the curriculum? What should students acquire for themselves and what is an absolute obligation? Finding a single right answer to these questions is impossible.

A trend that we can recognize in recent years, however, is that the study of architecture has become too theoretical for many students. Many criticisethe seemingly old views of the teachers and would like to decide for themselves what they learn. And if the university does not offer it, then you organize yourself. One kind of university recognizes these signs and tries to support this self-employment, even to cooperate with it whereas the other kind of university tries to suppress it and sticks to its old-established principles. Role models in this regard are the Paris Schools of Architecture, which have shown foresight on the example of Bellastock. Every year since 2011, more than 1000 architecture students from all over Europe have made a pilgrimage to Paris for four days to work together and experiment in the scale of 1:1. This would not be the case if similar possibilities existed in their home country. The demand is therefore clearly existent.

In general, in the last ten years in France, there has been a shift towards practical design and experimentation. Not only is value placed on achievements, but the fun and motivational factor also plays an important role: playful learning and getting to know each other. Each experience for the student strengthens their architectural character.

Not only can teaching and research in universities be changed, but also architectural practice can break new ground. What is the added value later in professional life of having gained experience of building and experimenting while studying? How does it change the perspective of the architect on the act of building? The intensive study of materials and construction techniques helps architects to approach their future construction projects in a more intensive way and can improve communication with other actors, such as engineers and site managers. This expertise and the ability to recognize interrelationships between buildings, their impact on residents and society, and solving problems differently based on this knowledge, amongst many other qualities, makes a professional architect indispensable in building projects. And precisely this position in professional practice can be strengthened by an architectural laboratory as an extension to teaching and research.

One aspect of building that is repeatedly discussed is that of student exploitation. Should a student be paid to work on construction sites or in architectural firms, or should the accumulated experience be used as a reward? In my view, it is the level of care that should be considered as pay. The transfer of knowledge can be the means of payment. But caution is advised that the term knowledge transfer is not pulled too far and thereby abused. An example would be a professor of ENSAL (Ecole Nationale Supérieure d ‘Architecture de Lyon), who owns a castle ruin. Every year, he invites students for a week or two to restore this ruin with him. During this time he teaches the students the techniques of building in the Middle Ages and applies them together with the students. They eat together, discuss and work in a team, in what can be seen as another direct experience of teaching. And when a ruin shines in new splendor all have gained something. On the other hand, students working in an architect’s office alone, enriching the architect’s designs, ideas, and working unpaid hours on the pretext of practical experience in a monetary and representational way, could be considered wrong.

However, let’s return to the topic of this work: the possibility of architectural laboratories for teaching and research, run by universities. On the one hand, there is the improvement of the quality of teaching, because as mentioned in the introduction, you offer the possibility of giving students a complete understanding of the integrity of the architectural process, from the first dash of a design to the built product. But also the quality of research can get a boost. So far, companies have had to resort to corporate workshops and be forced into partnerships, whilst research can now work and experiment in a way that is free of economic thought. Also, secrecy and patent transfers would no longer matter, an aspect that often goes unnoticed in the study of academic research. Often research projects include secrecy declarations, so that neither other employees of the institute or students may receive information, let alone collaborate on it. The fact that something has been researched is usually experienced after graduation and possible publication. All this harms the universities to a great extent, because you can not fully exploit your resources. A comparative example, would be if a company had two departments, the first one can program and the second draws plans. The former struggles to finish the project because they can not talk to the second department, whereas, if everyone works together, a better quality result can be achieved more quickly. A university has competences in a wide variety of fields, depending on the study program. These competences include not only the institutes, lecturers and researchers, but also the students who constitute a critical mass. Most of the time, however, you are kept away from researcher knowledge, which goes into the private sector after graduation and is lost to the university. The university, which first learns to understand this added value of its members, and changes its attitude accordingly, has gained a huge lead over other institutions worldwide. An architectural laboratory can be a first step in this direction. This would not only benefit the study of architecture, but related fields such as civil engineering and the arts could also benefit from it. If students manage to communicate with each other in a neutral place, learn from each other and enrich each other, that not only changes the communication in the university, but also the economy in which these future actors may meet as cooperation partners. An architecture laboratory can therefore also be the starting point for more inter-professional communication in the world of work.

Furthermore, universities in Austria, especially in the field of architecture, should realize that it is not the international competition on which you should waste your energy, but that the future will increasingly depend on international cooperation. The winners of tomorrow are today’s cooperation partners. The problems and questions of the future are becoming more and more complex and it is no longer possible for universities to offer solutions alone. Competencies are becoming more and more divided into further specializations, and somewhere in this international construct one should consolidate one’s role. The research of the future will not be based on researching the same topic side by side or against each other, but through the effective distribution of resources and competencies. It is not the profit of an individual that is in the foreground, but the progress of all.

The economic and qualitative aspects of teaching and research are not the only important topics for a university; public relations, the dissemination of knowledge, in our case architectural communication also matter. However, if one looks at how universities do their publishing, one can not help but wonder if one has already arrived in the 21st century. Here role models include private institutions such as the Autodesk Pier 9 or universities from the Anglo-phone world, who have realized that the future is not only in specialist publications, but increasingly in mass online content, in blogs and on interactive portals. A good example of this is the platform, and also the way in which the Institute of Architecture and Media at Graz University of Technology has made progress in publishing its courses for two years.

However, not only is the international aspect important for good communication and public relations, but regionality also plays an important role, both in terms of the recognition of the university and in terms of regional architecture. The immediate environment is the most modest and modifiable sphere for architecture and the arts. It can be a space for experimentation or for the goal of research and innovation. Conversely, architecture is also strongly influenced by its region and society. Every region has different values, traditional materials or needs and ideas for the future. An architectural laboratory can produce, explore and promote all these qualities. It could be called a socio-cultural symbiosis.

So what is the outlook that you can have at the end of this work? Where does the future music play? Maybe we can rethink the entire process of building. You could try to see it as a social event. Any new building created with maximum commitment, motivation and fun could be called a good building. Maybe all the actors in a construction site, the construction workers, the planners, the project leaders, the architect and the builders should get together and eat, drink and talk together before starting construction. Maybe that will lead to less fighting on construction sites and more pulling together.

Perhaps a laboratory that allows students room for experimentation and self-realization and that accelerates the aspects of collaboration, where together, sometimes very quickly, solutions are found, can achieve just that.

Maybe such a laboratory can also help universities rethink their approach to teaching and research. As a public university, you have the advantage that you can work for the progress of the company and not have to make a profit in the interest of your shareholders. The recognition of the resulting opportunities and the activation and restructuring of its existing resources can give domestic universities the decisive advantage of establishing themselves as service providers for society.

On the basis of the analysis of permanent and temporary laboratories in Europe and the USA, in which architecture is experimented on at a large scale, and the juxtaposition of the advantages and disadvantages of these individual institutions, it was shown which possibilities could arise through such a realization in Austria. This work provides clues as to how such a laboratory, analogous to the GAIA ( Les Grands Ateliers de l’Isle d’Abeau) could be realized and used, and what implications this would have for the teaching, research and practice of architecture in Austria. This work seeks to create incentives to lead discussions on teaching and research in architecture and to question the practice of building, as well as the role of the architect within it.

5 Endnotes

1 Cf. Fensterbusch 1991, 5f.

2 Cf. Spiridonidis/Voyatzaki 2010 Architectural Design, 9.

3 Cf. Ibid., 480.

4 Cf. Carpenter 1997, 6-8.

5 Cf. On this issue Spiridonidis/Voyatzaki 2011. Spiridonidis/Voyatzaki 2010 Educating Architects.

6 Les Grands Ateliers 2012, 20-21.

7 Ibid., 22-23.

8 Cf. Les Grands Ateliers de l’Isle d’Abeau: Les Missions [Accessed: 30.10.2015].

9 Cf. Les Grands Ateliers de l’Isle d’Abeau: Le projet [Accessed: 30.10.2015].

10 Cf. Les Grands Ateliers 2013, 6-9. On this topic: Genay 2002, 1-4. Bonnet 1975, 171-176.

11 Cf. Les Grands Ateliers 2012, 140-141. The information is from 2011.

12 Cf. Ibid., 140-141. For the 8739 persons in 2011, the persons are counted once a day.

13 The Office of Architectural, Urban and Landscape Research is part of the French Ministry of Culture and Communication.

14 Cf. Les Grands Ateliers de l’Isle d’Abeau: Les grandes étapes [Accessed: 30.10.2015].

15 Cf. Les Grands Ateliers de l’Isle d’Abeau: Le concept [Accessed: 30.10.2015]. Mairie Villefontaine: Le Village Terre URL [Accessed: 30.10.2015]. More on this topic: Dethier 1982. Adeline Lozach‘meur 1984.

16 The EAG (Ecole d’Architecture de Grenoble) later became the ENSAG (Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture de Grenoble).

17 Cf. Les Grands Ateliers de l’Isle d’Abeau: Les grandes étapes [Accessed: 30.10.2015]. 18 Cf. Les Grands Ateliers de l’Isle d’Abeau: Les grandes étapes [Accessed: 30.10.2015].

19 Cf. Les Grands Ateliers de l’Isle d’Abeau: Les Missions. Accessed: 30.10.2015].

20 Cf. Les Grands Ateliers de l’Isle d’Abeau: Les Missions. [Accessed: 30.10.2015].

21 Cf. Les Grands Ateliers de l’Isle d’Abeau: Les Missions [Accessed: 30.10.2015].

22 More on Core-Skin-Shell: Quenard 2009.

23 Cf. European Parliament: Position of the European Parliament, adopted at first read- ing on 23 April 2009 EP-PE_TC1-COD (2008) 0223.

24 Cf. Les Grands Ateliers de l’Isle d’Abeau: Les Missions [Accessed: 30.10.2015].

25 Street festival in Lyon, originally in honor of Mary and her preservation of the city from the plague.

26 Cf. Les Grands Ateliers 2012, 60-63.

27 Cf. Ibid. 124-125. The number of students is calculated by the number of students / participants multiplied by the days of the event.

28 Cf. Les Grands Ateliers 2013, 122-123.

29 Cf. Wikipedia : Solar Decathlon [Accessed: 23.1.2016].

30 Cf. CRAterre: Solar Decathlon 2010, 4eme place pour l´armadillo box ENSAG (31.8.2010) [Accessed: 23.1.2016].

31 In the “Ecole Nationale Superieur d’Architecture”, the second year of the Master’s pro- gram is a single one-year project exercise coupled with a written paper. These parts together make up the master’s thesis of the student.

32 Cf. Les Grands Ateliers de l’Isle d’Abeau: Appel a projets Equipex 33 Les Grands Ateliers 2012, 136-137.

34 The pôle innovations constructives, a competence center for innovative and sustain- able construction founded by the Rhone-Alpes region in 2007, brings together around 100 construction companies, specialist planners and service providers as well as teaching and research institutions under one name.

35 Cf. Les Grands Ateliers de l’Isle d’Abeau: Projet ASSTUS [Accessed: 30.10.2015].

36 Artists in Residence means scholarship and exchange programs for artists. See Au-

todesk: About Pier 9 [Accessed: 10.10.2015].

37 Cf. Alspaugh, Zack: San Francisco’s Pier 9 Is Now The Cutting-Edge Autodesk Workshop in: Metropolis Magazine (8.8.2015) [Accessed: 11.10.2015].

38 Cf. Autodesk: About Pier 9 [Accessed: 10.10.2015].

39 Cf. Instructables: Instructables Statistics [Accessed: 17.11.2015].

40 Cf. Wilhelm, Eric: Instructables joins Autodesk (1.8.2011) [Accessed: 10.10.2015].

41 Unless otherwise stated, the information in this chapter is from my recollection of the conversations I had during my participation in the event.

42 O’Brien, Conor: Brian Anson – Activist/Architect/Artist (2008) [Accessed: 25.11.2015]. 43 Cf. Shatarova 2015, 733.

44 Cf. Ibid. 732.

45 Cf. Ibid. 734-736.

46 Cf. Ibid..

47 Cf. Bellastock: Ville Éphémère [Accessed: 26.11.2015]. 48 Cf. Bellastock: Ville Éphémère [Accessed: 26.11.2015]. 49 Cf. Bellastock: Bellastock [Accessed: 26.11.2015].

50 Cf. Ibid..

51 Cf. Ibid. Cf. Bellastock: Ville Éphémère [Accessed: 26.11.2015]. 52 Cf. Bellastock: Actlab [Accessed: 26.11.2015].

53 Cf. Bellastock: Danemark [Accessed: 26.11.2015].

54 Cf. Vgl. Les Grands Ateliers 2012, 140-141. For the 8739 persons in 2011, the persons are counted once a day. The budget and attendance figures for the Festival Bellastock and the EASA are values from my memory of the conversations I had during the participation in the events.

55 The budget and attendance figures for the Festival Bellastock and the EASA are values from my memory of the conversations I had during the participation in the events.

56 Cf. Interview with Michael Windisch, conducted by Benjamin Schmid, Übelbach, 14.10.2015.

57 Cf. Wikipedia: Übelbach[Accessed: 10.10.2015].

58 Cf. Interview with Michael Windisch, conducted by Benjamin Schmid, Übelbach, 14.10.2015.

59 Cf. Ibid.

60 Openstreetmap is a free project that collects for any freely usable geodata. This data can be viewed interactively on a map (

61 Wikipedia: Geodaten [Accessed: 10.10.2015].Opimo adem halaris sensita bertum orum me aticamprae coendac inenat, novid potius obsene quam ocruder fectemus a nonsim tum me iptem adhust publintra clabem opopota ntilinam nos etiactus vit. Ribus vidernu mulicap eribem pubis maio nos sulicis, quon desimpo popubli stilla nes! Eviusque in stu sperfic ienihicut pero iam acivat eto Cat perte constanum dierips, tus intesse rcestil unum addumusquam prae mis consina mo elibuterox mor publium es prortis cupermihi, nocaes, essin te movit actus rempra, moenatu asterfina, egil huctam Romnes acciissus est vis bonsu- perum, satus pra? Ahalem adhuite mis sciis endam.

62 Obse et num ave, us, serti publicae consumus nonsidem fore tant.

63 Ti. Serem iaedio, que anum publiis tridefa tatordi, noste, coendempra? Icienti murbe- munumur patque autestifecri pris Ad sin veris condacia vius is accionsciem poer

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7 Table of Figures


Fig. 2,3,6,25,26,28,29,30,31,32,33,39,45,49,50,51,54,55,56,57,58,59: Benjamin Schmid

Fig. 4:,5.1517382,3a,75y,359.83h,88.18t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sCGXe5H4Dcol1bpOw_FnSc- Q!2e0!7i13312!8i6656!6m1!1e1

Fig. 5:

Fig. 7,11: Les Grands Ateliers de l’Isle d’Abeau (Hg.): Les Grands Ate- liers – Activités 2011-2012, Lyon 2012, 144

Fig. 8: Image/07/249_768_2001-construction-du-batiment-des-Grands-Ate- liers-01.jpg








Fig. 17,18: htm

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Fig. 41,42,43,44,46,47,48: Alexandra Kononchenko, 2014

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