Every year INSIDE chooses a year theme as an impulse to the curriculum. The year theme is used to explore a specific phenomenon in the built environment for its relevance. The year theme has an influence on the curriculum and in particular takes shape within the lecture programme. At the end of the year, the results of the exploration of the year theme will be incorporated into the INSIDE magazine.
YEAR THEME 2021/2022
The Moment of Utopia
Every year at INSIDE we choose a year theme as an impulse to the curriculum to explore a specific phenomenon in the built environment. The theme does not represent a programme that will dominate all the studios but is a starting point for research in a parallel programme of lectures and workshops. This year’s theme is partly inspired by the past 1.5 years in which the covid-19 pandemic has imposed many restrictions on movement and social interaction on all of us. In the media and in everyone’s immediate surroundings, you can hear the sighs of people who are tired of the restrictions and long for freedom without limitations. For the opportunity to move freely and to immerse oneself in events with many people and physical contact as if there were no danger of infection. It is highly likely that in the utopias that are now being defined, in the ideal future societies that are now being imagined, it is precisely this freedom of movement and unlimited interpersonal interaction that will play a major role. When conceiving the as yet unimaginable societies of the future, the dominant solution to today’s conceivable problems serves by definition as an important check on the utopian content of these ideal plans. Thus, the situation in which the utopia arises, the problems of that moment, but also the way in which the ideal future is ‘negotiated’, or ‘The Moment of Utopia’, plays a major role in shaping that ideal future. Utopia thus primarily reflects the conditions of the time in which it was created.
That this ‘The Moment of Utopia’ matters is the opening statement of this academic year at INSIDE. There is no finished concept of it, no programme and no set approach with a reading list. We are going to investigate the theme to find out what role it plays in our time. In addition to the themes that play a leading role in the shape of assignments in the studios, ‘The Moment of Utopia’ is the underlying question in a series of lectures and various workshops that will culminate in an article in our annual magazine at the end of the year.
YEAR THEME 2020/2021
The first half of 2020 was worldwide dominated by the Corona pandemic and its limiting effects on how people could move through the built environment. The enforced social distancing had a curious relationship with last year’s theme of fruitful inefficiency. Every year at INSIDE we choose a year theme as an impulse to the curriculum to explore a specific phenomenon in the built environment. Through the covid-19 crisis, INSIDE students showed their resilience, they turned out to be able to deal with the inefficiency caused by the restrictions in a fruitful way. Models were built within students’ rooms and amazing presentation films were edited, where the limitations functioned as extra features. Despite the challenging circumstances, exciting projects with fascinating presentations emerged. Nevertheless, in addition to the enthusiasm, also the limitations became apparent. Digital communication is limited to image and sound and lacks the much-needed spatial and sensory information. Therefore it makes communication too efficient; there is no more time to linger, consider, look each other in the eye, have a quick chat in between, etc. With a reference to our last year’s theme Fruitful Inefficiency: efficiency makes communication less fruitful.
At the end of the year we could hand out the diplomas in person, but the usual hug and even a firm handshake had to be omitted. To rediscover each other’s proximity we have chosen social re-approaching as our theme of the 20-21 academic year. Some of the corona-limitations still play a role in the way we organise our education and working in the INSIDE studio. But it is important to maximise our resilience and flexibility within those constraints. How can we reinvent the encounter, how does social re-approaching take place. The theme is a starting point for research, as we do not yet know exactly what possibilities it offers in this day and age and in this context. Our exploration of the possibilities of social re-approaching starts in The Hague, where we will meet each other, the tutors and the city. After 4 days of meeting we travel to Arnhem, to a former military base that is currently being transformed into a residential area with an emphasis on culture. During a one week period, we explore the area and its surroundings and study a number of issues that the residents of the area have identified. At the end of the week we invite the residents of the area to come and look at our proposals and interventions and discuss with us to what extent they consider them relevant to their context. But we are starting with eating together. As Goda Verikaitė, who graduated from INSIDE in 2018, testified in our magazine: “My ‘Corona Garden’ marks the early beginning of the quarantine when I sowed seeds. Meanwhile I’m growing pumpkins in the west of Rotterdam. My friends, Klodiana, Cam and Jaja are planting carrots in the north of the city. Hopefully, by autumn, Corona will be gone, than we will gather harvest and make some reunion soup.” So thats where we are starting: eating reunion soup together.
YEAR THEME 2019/2020
This year’s theme was inspired by a student who graduated last year. In his first year, I-Chieh Liu designed a very inefficient coffee ceremony within the Floating University project in Berlin. The company that took part in it had to prepare everything together by hand, and even had to make fire using a very inefficient prehistoric wooden construction. This way the ceremony became much more than just drinking coffee together, the ineptitude brought the guests closer together in the preparation of the event. It reminded me of a journey I once made with the director of Polis University in Tirana. For a lecture series Besnik Aliaj drove me by car from Tirana in Albania to Serajevo in Bosnia. He perfectly knew the road until halfway, Podgorica, the capitol of Montenegro. In this city I found a bookshop with an oldfashioned paper map, perfectly showing the route through the mountains between Podgorica and Serajevo. Besnik refused to use the map. Instead, he drove up to pedestrians, opened his window and asked for directions. Even when we were demonstrably steered in the wrong direction by our informants, he persevered in his strategy. When I asked him a bit annoyed why, he replied that this way he got a lot more information than just the route. He learned about the smells, language and customs of the people of the country, that, by looking at the map in his air-conditioned car, would completely have escaped him. Both examples show that it can be fruitful to deliberately give up comfort. Efficient problem-solving removes the need to work together with others. And it is precisely from this forced cooperation that many social relationships arise, a value that cannot be expressed in monetary terms. This year we are going to explore this phenomenon of fruitful inefficiency through lectures, travels and workshops and search for its relevance for the INSIDE perspective on social and cultural challenges in interior architecture. At the end of this 2019/2020 study year at INSIDE all the results of this year’s programme and projects by our graduation students will be brought together in the next INSIDE magazine. Until then we wish you lots of new insights and pleasure in gathering these.
YEAR THEME 2018/2019
The year theme this year is Situational knowledge. It’s knowledge specific to a particular situation. When designers research a situation that is about to change, they gather as much information as possible about the characteristics, histories, use and potentials of that place. This knowledge they gather is never objective and of a general validity but situational by definition. The objectivity of the sources of information aswell as that of the one selecting and interpreting this information can only be seen as an illusion. The knowledge that results from a specific research by a specific interpreter on a specific moment is therefore ‘situational’. The situational character does not make this knowledge less true, valid or useful for understanding a situation in change, on the contrary, you even might argue that situational knowledge is the only useful knowledge you can gather in spatial design.
The Floating University of Raumlaborberlin
YEAR THEME 2017/2018
Impressions of Skills workshop ‘corrupted space’ with Thomas Rustemeyer
This year the overall theme of our course is CORRUPTED SPACE. Designed spaces, from apartment buildings to public spaces, do not always spontaneously function the way the initiators intended. Due to unexpected changes in the use or users of the specific space, or the circumstances around it, spaces can lose their original integrity and get corrupted. Even places that seem to smoothly function as intended, like shopping malls or airport terminals, can only uphold that image through selecting users and excluding the ones that don’t fit the ideal picture. Well considered in a large part of the built environment elements of corruptedness can be determined.
Various programmes will research the qualities, or the lack of qualities of corrupted space. Not to denounce these or initiate a Don Quichote battle against these, but to take the ‘dirty reality’ of the built environment as a point of departure for designing spatial change. The basic assumption is that especially in adapting the built environment to its real circumstances a society can show her unique strength and creativity.
Read about the ‘Corrupted Space’ INSIDE Introduction week 1718 in this Article!
YEAR THEME 2016/2017
This year the overall theme of our course is PARTICIPATE! All over the world people are striving to participate. To grow beyond just doing their job and to become an active part of the world. People want to participate more in how this world is shaped and how decisions are taken. Through the explosion of social media more people than ever before are in direct contact with each other causing loads of information being spread and tons of opinions shared. Through that hierarchies have become more visible and vulnurable causing some to open up more and others to strive for more control.
But in the end all decision making at all scales starts with the ability to have a good conversation. So thats where this years INSIDE curriculum will start. In our introduction week we will work together with students from Israel and The Netherlands to ‘design conversations’. On a former military site near Arnhem we will discuss design and build how we can facilitate a conversation between (groups of) people that have different background, different behaviour and different culture.
During the first and second semester all our course programme will link with the yeartheme in different ways. In the first studio the students will be invited to participate in shaping their own workspace. The second studio will focus on how to facilitate the participation of people living around and connected to a spatial situation in change. In the second semester we will focus on how to grow from exchanging opinions into the process of decision making and design situations where the character of space and the choreography of taking good decisions ideally come together.
Installations/Conversations made in the introductionweek in Arnhem (September 2016):
YEAR THEME 2015/2016
A major challenge for interior architecture at the moment is not to wait for the space the architect leaves behind to start shaping the world people relate to most directly. At INSIDE we explore the potentials of a wide variety of spaces that could or should be embraced by users. Abandoned spaces, infrastructural spaces, neglected spaces and re-framable spaces can reveal potentials when they are explored by the designers that are most specialized in the user perspective of space. In that respect it is crucial for future designers to also develop new skills to reach their goals and to act beyond the drawing of architectural plans and presenting floorplans, sections and renderings. Skills like exploration, trying out on a one-to-one scale and initiating interventions and debates belong to the crucial skills of provoking spatial changes of the next generations of interior architects.
This year we explored the potentials of a derilict bridge in the harbour of Rotterdam and of a landfill site in the newtown of Almere that is ready to be given back to the inhabitants of the city for recreational use. Furthermore we discovered the possibilities of finding comfort in a carwash and within the spectacular future project of The Windwheel in Rotterdam. In all these spatial situations in change the dynamics of design lie in understanding the context. All explorations aim at finding the potentials, the ambitions and most of all the limitations of a context from that we can shape the future spatial use and identity.
YEAR THEME 2014/2015
The themes we are working on at INSIDE are concentrated on issues that designers, clients, residents and users of space are faced with. In the year 2014-2015 the overall theme is ‘controlled space’ in which we explore the increasing tendencies of our current society to empower and control (semi-) public space. Especially in The Hague as a centre of global administration of justice hosting 160 institutions concerned with international crime, the question how space is controlled, is extremely appropriate.
Although the space in the city seems to be free, gradually public and private actors are injecting controlling mechanisms into public space in the name of security.
What are the mechanisms and spatial implications of observation networks and permanent supervision? Do they affect the behaviour of the citizens? And in which way do they influence the design and experience of our built environment?
At the beginning of the year a workshop was organized in cooperation with the Ramallah Art School and with the STROOM project “See you in The Hague”.
INSIDE students and students of the Ramallah Art School participated in a programme of lectures, discussions, excursions and presentations. With this variety we hope to ensure that all students, with different cultural backgrounds and orientations, have adequate opportunities to show their talents and exchange their experiences.
YEAR THEME 2013/2014
Year Theme 2013/2014: The Shopping Street
For 2013/2014 the overall theme is “The Shopping Street”.
The Western classical shopping streets in the city centres are increasingly showing empty spaces due to internet shopping and large malls located at the city peripheries.
The research will not only focus on the urban interiors from an aestethical or a practical point of view nor as a symptom of economics and politics but it is the ambition of INSIDE to also reveal the mechanisms behind the urban interiors by doing field work and scale comparisons that will enable the students to study the relation between the human scale and the new urban interiors.
YEAR THEME 2012/2013
Year Theme 2012/2013: The Empty Office Building
For 2012/2013 INSIDE’s Year theme was “The Empty Office Building “. The world of estate, and design and heritage has been changing drastically over the last few years. Office buildings are becoming more and more empty, less and less new offices are built, the demands for housing, shopping and retail are becoming different, classical clients, cities, housing corporations and developers are not taking the usual initiatives and funding becomes more and more difficult. The question how to develop the existing buildings in a different way becomes more and more urgent. How to redevelop the city and what will be the role of the interior architect in this challenging process.
During the first semester INSIDE focused on the empty Ministry of Interior Affairs in The Hague; the second semester it was the empty Shell Building in Rotterdam for which INSIDE master students made design proposals during the national Day of Architecture in Rotterdam.