Chasing Jakob

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How can we talk about the multiple roles expected of, and adopted by, architects? What kind of critique do we expose ourselves to when choosing to work outside of the conventional “office”? What are the biographical expectations that architects face in performing professional personae?

On Friday the 28th February 2014, Karin Matz and Helen Runting of Svensk Standard addressed a lecture to students of the 2nd Year of the Bachelor of Architecture, at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), discussing the role of the architect in light of their experiences working in the field. Following a review of their own practices, the two led an exercise in parody and profiling, exploring and exposing the expectations and judgements young architects face in negotiating diverse interpretations of architectural practice.

(Re)Orientations Course: Whatever happened to the Queens of Pomo?

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Whilst postmodern architecture itself may have been consigned to the “dustbin of history,” this doesn’t mean that it can’t be taken out, dusted off, straightened out, and restored to its former glory!

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Embracing the dishonesty of postmodernism, and abandoning the precision of the section and elevation, on the 31st of January 2014, Svensk Standard (in collaboration with Sara Vall, and at the invite of Dr Hélène Frichot and Dr Katja Grillner, Critical Studies in Architecture, KTH) led a workshop with the Masters of Architecture students at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, re-staging the Strada Novissima of the 1980 Venice Biennale in 1:1 scale. The street party that followed formed the culmination of the two-week Re(Orientations) course, which interrogated Sweden’s own postmodern legacy in the area of Södra stationsområdet in Stockholm.

 

Human Resources – Postcards from the future

 

The images, diagrams and texts that were produced by Svensk Standard for the preproduction of upcoming movie “the Unliving”, and displayed as part of the 2013 Staff Exhibition at the KTH School of Architecture, ‘Human Resources – Zombies, Architects, and the Politics of Unwaged Labour’, can now be read in their entirety at www.futurepostcards.tumblr.org !

 

Human Resources – Projekt och Pengar

 

This thursday (14th of march), as part of the Human Resources exhibition at the School of Architecture, KTH, Stockholm, we will talk about some of the projects that we have produced and participated in, what they cost, who payed (and did not pay) for them, what was expected and what they resulted in. Why, how, how much and then what?

(in swedish)
Event starts at 17:00.
Join here!

 

 

 

Human Resources – part 1 – For the Sake of Architecture – full show

 

Full video of the first episode in the Human Resources talk show series; “For the Sake of Architecture”, held at the School of Architecture, KTH, Stockholm.

Guests are; Teres Selberg, Erik Wingquist, Lena Viterstedt, Tor Lindstrand.
The show is hosted by; Helen Runting.

For additional information about the talk show and exhibition; see previous posts,

or follow this link! (KTH-A)

 

 

Human Resources Part 1.5 – The Unliving

This Thursday, the 14th of February, the Human Resources exhibition presents a screening of Återfödelsen/The Unliving. The screening acts as an intermission in the talk show program, that will continue on the 28th of February with the show Arkitektur på Kul / Architecture for Fun.

Following an introductory conversation with director Hugo Lilja, there will be movie and popcorn.

The Unliving is a 30 min short that has formed the point of departure for the work presented in the exhibition. It depicts a future following a zombie-outbreak and a society that has learned to tame the unliving into and endless resource of free labour.

Watch the trailer here: http://theunliving.com/

Bar opens at 17:00 and the introduction starts at 18:00.

 

 

 

Human Resources Part 1 – For the sake of architecture

 

The first talk show in the Human Resources series starts Thursday 31/1 at 18:00, at the School of Architecture, KTH, sthlm.

Bar opens at 17:00

Joins us live! or watch the show here, at www.svenskstandard.org, later on.

(Shows will be posted online approximately one week following the live event.)

 

Human Resources

 

Between the 28th of January and the 22nd of March 2013,  Svensk Standard will be exhibiting at the KTH School of Architecture. The exhibition, entitled “Human Resources: Zombies, Architects, and the Politics of Unwaged Labour” was commissioned by the School, forming the School’s 2013 Teacher Exhibition.

 

The exhibition has two components: (i) a graphic presentation of a project undertaken in 2012, whereby the group created concept art and a series of strategic scenarios for the upcoming film, The Unliving; (ii) a talkshow, called “Human Resources”, comprising 4 episodes, that – building on our own work with The Unliving and other projects – takes up and questions the way in which architects variously romanticize, exploit, reject or strengthen a culture of unwaged labour (of working for free) through their practices.

 

The first episode of the Human Resources talkshow, entitled “För arkitekturens skull”, will be filmed in the triangle at the School of Architecture on Thursday the 31st of January at 6pm. It will be based around two twenty-minute discussions and will be open to the general public. More info to follow.

 

Scheduled Talk Shows

 

31 January 2013
Human Resources: A Talk Show, Episode 1: För arkitekturens skull / For the sake of architecture (ENG)
Bar opens 17.00
Show starts 18.00

 

14 February 2013
Film screening: The Unliving
Bar opens 17.00
Presentation of the project 18.00
Film starts 18.30

 

28 February 2013
Human Resources: A Talk Show, Episode 2: Arkitektur på kul! / Architecture for fun! (SWE)
Bar opens 17.00
Show starts 18.00

 

14 March 2013
Human Resources: A Talk Show, Episode 3: Pro bono (ENG)
Bar opens 17.00
Show starts 18.00

 

22 March 2013
Human Resources: A Talk Show, Episode 4: Life’s a pitch / Livet är en pitch (SWE)
Bar opens 17.00
Show starts 18.00

 

Visit KTH Arkitektur for more info!

 

In Treatment

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Urban planning practice comes close to an exercise in therapy. Last night, the Swedish Association of Architects (Sveriges Arkitekter www.arkitekt.se) organised a rather large collective therapy event for the damaged souls of Stockholm’s architecture community. A spot of last-minute consultation for the draft policy for architecture, ‘Arkitektur Stockholm’ (an addition to the översikstplan, Promenadstaden), provided the perfect opportunity for Stockholm’s architects to air their grievances, expose and explore their hopes and dreams, jostle for position, make themselves heard, and ultimately do what architects do best: talk about architecture in the company of other architects.

With Bjarke Ingels distracting all the kids down at the School of Architecture at KTH – the title of his lecture, ‘Hedonistic Sustainability’, gave a taste of the show that would surely follow – we were by far the youngest people in the lush and sombre space of the main hall of Liljevalchs Konsthall. Being young (experienced as a disconcerting ‘cuteness’ in these kind of friendly get-togethers) gave us an excuse to get stuck into the champagne and to push some infantile ideas like ‘politics’ and ‘production’, however the speed-dating format of the round-table discussion tended to emphasize trite one-liners (ours included) and exclude a careful consideration of the structure, mechanics and ambitions of the Arkitektur Stockholm policy document. All in all, our general impression of the night constituted a choppy collage of soundbytes, which the concluding summary by the moderators largely failed to narrativize, critique or clarify.

So, whilst impressed by the palpable concentration of power in the room, we left feeling somewhat unfulfilled – it was hard to say whether the therapy had worked, whether old neuroses had indeed been quashed or whether rather on the contrary a sense of paranoia had simply spread. What was the problem with architecture in Stockholm? Was there a problem, and if so what could be done about it? By who? Was, in fact, architecture itself the problem? Or, worse, was Stockholm? We retreated to a bar to try to reformulate our position in what had become murky water, speculating briefly about why recovering alcoholics might possibly find comfort in meeting in “groups” composed of others with the same problem. When it comes to group therapy for Stockholm’s architects, it seems to us that the therapist (the City) might have to be more proscriptive in elucidating workable strategies for behavioural change, and – first and foremost – clarify the diagnosis upon which the treatment is based…

The event was attended by Helen Runting and Rutger Sjögrim of Svensk Standard.

Light, Camera, Action!

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On Wednesday 19:th of October we will lecture at the School of Architecture in Stockholm. We will speak about some of the themes that has surfaced through our production (and as all good things, they come at the power of three): Talk, Show, Transmit. Myth, Performance, Broadcast. Light, Camera, Action!
We will start at 18:00, in hall A4 (we will speak in swedish).
You should come, it will be fun!

Trojans pt.2

Our thoughts concerning the guidelines for architectural quality, Arkitektur Stockholm, put forward by the City of Stockholm, has been summed up and sent to the city planning office as a part of the public consultation process. A discussion was held, as well (last tuesday) with representatives from the planning office and the groups participating in the exhibition at Kulturhuset. Hopefully, the transcripts of the discussion will be available soon and we’ll make sure to post them on this site as we look forward to follow the ongoing efforts to shape the document. In the meantime, these are our thoughts, as sent to the City Planning Office on the 20th of September:

(More information about the guidelines for architectural quality can be accessed here (swedish))

“Angående: Arkitektur Stockholm: en strategi för stadens gestaltning
Diarenummer: 2010-11401-51

20 September 2011

Svensk standard was invited to participate in the ”Blinda Fläckan” section of the Våra drömmars Stockholm exhibition on the 13th and 14th of August. The invitation came to us through Sara Vall, a long-standing friend of ours, some time in June of this year. Thus began our involvement and interest in Arkitektur Stockholm: en strategi för stadens gestaltning. Upon the basis of our multiple and collective readings of the draft policy text (developed over 3 afternoon workshops), our position within and towards architecture in Stockholm, and the experience of working with Blinda Fläckan, we would like to offer our views on the draft document and our aspirations for what it might become…

First, we might explain the position from which we speak. Svensk standard is a group of friends who spend weekends, evenings, and holidays discussing, producing, arguing, and thinking about architecture. We all either live in, or have lived in, Stockholm, although at the moment some of us live abroad. We’re about 13 people, although less may work on a specific project, and this submission represents the work of Helen Runting, Rutger Sjögrim, Markus Wagner, Karin Matz, Caroline Ektander, Martin Losos, Ola Keijer, Daniel Johansson, Fredrik Andersson and Mattias Beckman. The group primarily constitutes architects, with the exceptions of an urban designer/planner and a chemical engineer. Three of us work at the School of Architecture at KTH as teachers. Four have recently started practices. A few of us work for larger commercial architecture firms. We have very different views about architecture, but share certain aspirations. The submission is English because it was prepared by a non-Swedish resident of Stockholm, and we’d be happy to provide a translation if required.

1. Trojan horses

We read Arkitektur Stockholm in three sittings. It was in the summer, and Stockholm was warm. The windows to the loungerooms in which we met were open. Despite this, we closed the blinds and read Arkitektur Stockholm together by projecting the text on a wall, and together we noted down the recurrent terms – Stockholms unika värden, hög arkitektoniskt kvalitet, välfungerande stadsliv – that run like threads through the text, knitting it together and forming the core of its message.

Slippery terms those, the meaning of which we debated at length. The meaning of which you probably debated at length. Terms which, in coming months, will be debated over and over again. Why? Because they are more or less “empty”, open to multiple meanings and reinterpretations. Their emptiness makes them interesting as a vehicle to push new agendas for architecture in Stockholm. It also makes them, as acknowledged by Per Wirtèn in the critique he performed at Färgfabriken, terrifying.

They are terrifying because they defer the critical attention of the public who might assume that they are inherently “good” (who can argue against a “välfungerande stadsliv”?); or that they are too “technical” to define (who dares claim the authority, in a normal situation, to define or even use the term “hög arkitektoniskt kvalitet”?); or that they are obvious truths (who doesn’t feel the timeless ring of a phrase like “Stockholms unika värden”?). In planning critique, these phrases are often referred to as “motherhood” statements (after all – how can you argue against motherhood?). But you already know this. All good planners do. Because planners need these words, to smuggle in concepts and terms, to simplify complex or challenging content, to affect and persuade audiences (the public and the politicians).

We’re happy for you to use these terms, but express the hope that you might use them to smuggle in a new agenda for architecture: to support the architectural profession in exploring new ways of doing; to permit uses and reuses of architecture which produce new types of space, or permit new ways of living; and we would like you to dare to tackle the big questions of architecture, like social justice, rather than simply aesthetics. Because whilst Stockholm is a great city to live and to practice in (most of the time), we believe (like you) that it could be better. Maintaining the status quo is relatively easy, and whilst it takes a lot of bureaucracy to do it, it doesn’t take a lot of bravery. We would therefore like you to use terms like “unika värden”, “hög arkitektoniskt kvalitet”, “välfungerande stadsliv” as Trojan horses, to smuggle in the bureaucratic tools required to produce new (more open) types of spaces, new (more open) ideas about how to live, and a new, more hopeful, context for architects to work in.

2. New spaces to explore

We therefore offer the following directions that we’d like to see explored in a development of the policy. Whilst we acknowledge Karolina Keyzer’s call (made in her speech to the audience at Färgfabriken) for architects to contribute solutions to the consultation process, as perhaps you can understand, developed and workable solutions take more than 4 weekends to produce, even when you are a group of 10. We therefore set out a series of questions, which we may continue to work with independently of Arkitektur Stockholm, but which we hope you may look into to too.

(i) Producing spaces through making.

We disagree with your definition of architecture (page 7), although (as evidenced in the never-ending battle between “Architecture” and “architecture”) disagreement should not be seen as unhealthy. Where you portray architecture as a product – a building, a park, a street (both object and environment), we see architecture as a process – a way of thinking (a field of research, a knowledge tradition), a way of doing (a practice, a profession), and a way of debating (in built, material, terms) who we are and how we want to live.

If architecture is to be enacted as a process, and if it is going to venture into new territory, it needs spaces to materially “think” and “make” with/in, where risks can be taken and failure is allowed.

We therefore wonder, can Arkitektur Stockholm aspire to open up new material and economic (rather than just discursive) spaces for a more open negotiation, experimentation, and “thinking by doing” in architecture, by architects?

We suggest that such spaces might constitute infrastructure for architects such as studios, education and competitions; but most importantly might constitute sites, commissions and real opportunities to build.

(ii) Producing spaces through use and reuse.

The city can be seen as a negotiation between conflicting interests, as well as a series of qualities/situations/conditions which “emerge”. It is the contingency of architecture – the unpredictability inherent in the way that a building is “lived”, in the way that it can be altered, and is therefore never entirely fixed – that makes architecture interesting. And often it is planning that works with that contingency, allowing and prohibiting the use and alterations of buildings, parks and streets, long after the architect’s job is “finished”. Stockholm is a city where permission can be difficult, where unforseen uses (a small café ore restaurant on a street corner? a non-traditional household trying to find a larger flat? retention of old, perhaps even ugly, buildings for studios?) may not find a place.

We therefore wonder, could Arkitektur Stockholm open up material and economic (rather than just discursive) spaces for ‘unforseen’ and essentially ‘unplanned’ use and re-use of architecture and the city, by architects, developers and – most importantly – citizens?

(iii) Spaces for production.

There is a lot of discussion of consumption within Arkitektur Stockholm – of slinking into a shop or café on your way from A to B, of the form of shopping malls, of the city as a “market place” and of the consumption of events and activities in public space. We think production is simply more interesting. Whether that production is large-scale (where are the factories in Arkitektur Stockholm?) or small (where are the kolonilotter?), the opportunity for citizens to produce, through architectural decisions about space, could provide a vital addition to the present discussion.

We therefore challenge Arkitektur Stockholm to use policy mechanisms to open up material and economic spaces for production (for instance, for urban agriculture, studio spaces, and small-scale shops, restaurants etc.,) instead of large-scale spaces for consumption.

Further, as a group composed (predominantly) of architects, it is rather natural that we think about the production of buildings. As eloquently described by Catharina Fored at Färgfabriken, and reinforced by our experience, the field of development is hopelessly dominated by the big four building companies in Stockholm, who are in turn supported by the big architecture companies. We question what is won (and who wins) through this arrangement.

We also question the current trends of applying different colour treatments to permimeter block buildings simply to aesthetically “fake” different owners, and urge you to instead direct your attention to the questions of power and economics that underlie comprehensive development.

More opportunities for more architects and for smaller actors in development could be a strong step forward, we pose, in supporting architecture (as product and process) and building in diversity into the built environment.

We therefore wonder whether Arkitektur Stockholm could open up an economic space for actors (other than the top 4 building companies) to develop property in Stockholm?

(iv) Wicked problems

The socio-economic (and dare we say cultural?) segregation in Stockholm exists at an unacceptable level today, well beyond what could be imagined of a city like Stockholm in a country like Sweden. The housing market, the rental rules, the development industry, the architectural discourse all need to be focused on consideration of workable solutions. What can we, as young architects, do in our daily practice to improve this situation? While we might be dazed by the scale of the problem, we should be able to look to our city for implementable solutions, which we feel ownership over.

We therefore ask, could Arkitektur Stockholm propose real measures for architects and developers to deploy in tackling segregation?

Poverty, housing, health, ageing, loneliness, unemployment, ecological damage: design is a tool in tackling the truly wicked problems faced by society. In the face of larger social problems, the retention of aesthetic character fades in importance. Stockholm has many young (and older) architects willing to work for change, and as per our comments regarding segregation, workable strategies are something the city could provide, and something which could make a document like Arkitektur Stockholm more than just aesthetic guidance.

Upon the basis of the above input, we wish you the best in the coming redrafting of the policy. Please keep us informed of progress and get in contact should you require clarification of our position.

Yours Sincerely

Svensk Standard
Stockholm, 20 September 2011.

Stockholm Water Festival

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Twelve years ago the last Stockholm Water Festival was held. The first Water Festival was held in ’91 and, although it was initially propelled by the best of intentions, it soon fell into an abyss of generic content and fast-food stands.

This weekend, the Floating Lawn will perform as the base and platform for a water-festival-as-it-should-be: Spontaneous, low-key, and fun!

Join us next to the water at, Reimersholme, Horsntull and Tanto in Stockholm, this sunday. We start at 15:00.

More info on: www.vattenfestivalen.blogspot.com

Trojans

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Svensk Standard will be working at Kulturhuset, Stockholm, this weekend. We have been invited to produce feedback on the guidelines for architectural quality, ‘Arkitektur Stockholm’, recently put forward by the City of Stockholm. Our workshop will focus on terms and concepts used within the text, and portrayed as “naturally” benign truths. Phrases like “contemporary architecture” and “well-functioning urban life” will be reassessed, redefined and handed back to the City as trojan horses, posing questions and proposing a different idea of how to define architecture and city planning in a more open and experimental manner.

Arkitektur i TV!

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TV! starts tomorrow (10th of feb) at six pm, at the Museeum of Architecture in Stockholm. The workshop will then continue during Friday and Saturday. If you can’t join us there the production will be made available through the project website at…

www.arkitekturitv.blogspot.com

TV!

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TV! is an open workshop about architecture-TV. It will be the starting point for the production of a pitch for a TV show about architecture aimed at swedish television.

It is our contribution to the upcoming (next week, 8-13 feb) event/workshop/forum “48 timmar” (48 hours) at the Museum of Architecture in Stockholm. In response to the exhibitions question “what and how can a museum about architecture be and act?” we ask; could it be television?

On the 11th and 12th of february TV! will be a platform for encounters, discussion and the search for themes and a format that produces rich and entertaining television about architecture. The intent is to produce a show that discusses architecture as phenomena rather than showing visual form as object and that makes architecture accessible, understandable and unpretentious.

There will be interviews and features, backdrops will be made and puns will be wrought. There might be sketches and maybe some clever graphics, honest photography and peppy editing . Short test sequences will be made and showed on-site as well as on-line.

Between the 8th of february and the 13th “48 timmar” will also feature the talents of:

Otto von Busch, Byggstudio, Expeditionen för arkitektur och grafisk form, Konst & Teknik, Staffan Lundgren, The New Beauty Council, Tidningen STAD, Apolonija Šušteršič & Meike Schalk, Testbedstudio, Tor Lindstrand, Christina Zetterlund & Pontus Lindvall and more…

For more info about “48 timmar” go to: www.arkitekturmuseetlive.se/48t

Join us at the museum!

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At Work With Svensk Standard

We were recently invited by Testbedstudio and Economy to participate in the At Work With residency programme within the Nordic Pavilion at the International Architecture Biennale in Venice. Fabulous, we thought! The At Work With project was conceived of as a kind of complement and counterpoint to the main – and rather controversialStay in Touch exhibition commissioned by the Swedish Museum of Architecture.

Typical of many of the exhibitions within the national pavilions at the Biennale, Stay in Touch exhibited Nordic architecture as both finished object and representation, displaying images of built projects and accompanying architectural drawings. In contrast to this approach, At Work With focused on the exhibition of Nordic architecture as process, by commissioning a series of young architecture-related practices to work within the space of the pavilion and to appropriate it as their “office” for a week. In this way, as we understood our brief, At Work With would become a way to activate the space and engage visitors to the pavilion in a more active dialogue. It would also work to harness the symbolic capital present in the broader event (the Venice Biennale) to support emerging Nordic architectural practices. For us, it presented a very exciting opportunity…

As a “social practice” made up of shifting mix of friends and strangers, Svensk Standard’s team for At Work With in the end constituted 13 people – ten architects, one political analyst, one urban planner and one engineer. Larger than ever before, and with thanks to funding from IASPIS (the Swedish Visual Arts Fund’s international programme), we negotiated time off from our professional practices and flew to Venice, to take over Sverre Fehn’s incredible pavilion for the space of a week.

Working in a large interdisciplinary group necessitated the formulation of a structure that would be able to contain and relate our work – a kind of vessel. As we explored potential lines of inquiry we realised that our curiosity in itself was a common characteristic. We all had myths in our heads about Venice – a dying city, sinking; a tourist city, drowning – and about the Biennale, which we all wished in some way to prove or disprove. We chose to describe our project as “archaeology”, working independently to “dredge” the city for artefacts, myths and phenomena and transport them to the pavilion in order to map the reality we found. Some of us very literally trawled the waters of Venice. Others used mechanical animation to bring forgotten objects to life. Others made a thousand paper boats with the visitors to the pavilion, echoing the original industrial output of the Arsenale. Some disproved myths and others created them, and all the while we tried to keep to the simple rule of one project per day per person, presented publically in a group presentation at the end of each day.

Documentation of our work is presented through the At Work With blog.

Project by: Helen Runting, Markus Wagner, Joél Jouannet, Rutger Sjögrim, Karin Matz, Sara Liberg, Anders Berensson, Daniel Johansson, Ola Keijer, Martin Łosoś, Fredrik Andersson, Caroline Ektander and Bree Trevena.

Venice! of the North!

Tomorrow we leave for Venice.

As a part of the residency program At Work With, initiated by Economy and Testbedstudio for the Nordic Pavilion at the Venice Biennale this year, we have been invited to make the Nordic Pavilion our office for a week. During this week we will produce small projects on the city of Venice in a production we’d like to call Venice! of the North!

More updates will follow soon. Read them here at our webpage or at the At Work With blog (where you can also read up on the activities of the practices preceding us as residents of the pavilion).

…Or visit us! if you are in Venice. We’ll be at the Nordic Pavillion in the Giardini area of the Biennale and we’ll be there from the 21th of september to the 26th of september.

The Field performing on the lawn

On a sunny Wednesday evening, the people of Stockholm had the pleasure of witnessing The Field performing live on The Lawn, as it floated gently passed their balconies, windows, parks and bars.

 Video by djnupi

Lawn Mover moving

After two days of construction the floating lawn (now properly named Åke) is complete and floats with pride.

Manymanymany thanks and hugs to all of you that helped us put it together.