Open City Research Platform

Applications should be sent via email to [email protected] and should comprise a brief letter that describes why you are interested in the project and expectations for the Open City Research Platform. All candidates will also be interviewed as part of the selection process. 

Open City Research Platform is looking for self-motivated students who are interested in an experience that provides human, intellectual and physical challenges. 

Applications will be expected until the end of January for EPFL and ETHZ students with interviews conducted in early February and decisions made shortly afterwards.

The Open City Research Platform, an ENAC’s Summer Workshop, was founded as a collaboration between the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology-Lausanne (EPFL) and the Open City/ Corporación Cultural Amereida, a community of designers, architects and poets that has sustained itself on a coastal site near Valparaiso, Chile for nearly fifty years. Since 2014, this collaboration has brought together students from Switzerland and Chile to work on the incremental building of El Pórtico de los Huéspedes (The Threshold of the Guests) for the Open City.

The goal was to create an innovative and interdisciplinary context that would make it possible to research architecture through a pedagogy of making that:

  • Positions the university student at the intersection between teaching and research;
  • Questions the boundary between the theoretical and the practical, between the academic and the professional; 
  • Involves students in a creative process linked to the material, human and temporal realities of building. 

In the Open City, we found a context to address these questions through the incremental development of a project of an open duration.

El Pórtico de los Huéspedes is the first permanent structure to be proposed in the Open City in nearly 12 years and was begun through the collaboration between Summer Chantier and the e[ad]PUCV in the summer of 2014. An initial program for the structure was developed by the Open City members and responds to a need within the community for permanent space for both the administrative secretary of the Open City and for guests conducting research. In addition, the program responded to a desire to create a space large enough for the entire e[ad]PUCV community to assemble within the Open City itself. This program is not a set of fixed guidelines but served, and serves, to guide the project at its origins. Similarly, El Pórtico de los Huéspedes has no fixed plan or finality. During each summer, and in the intervening school year, students and faculty respond to the existing conditions with tests and interventions that develop the project.

El Pórtico de los Huéspedes is an atelier that exposes the traces of its own construction process as accumulated knowledge. This makes new students enter into dialogue with construction in a direct way. Each of the successive construction phases contributes a new character to the work. The project proposes a cyclical conception of sustainability that questions the distinction of ephemeral and durable. Material innovation is based on testing material behavior and using the gained knowledge to invent solutions. Every built moment has to liberate itself to become part of the work, the site, the place.

Below is a outline of the program we will follow during the Open City Research Platform 2020. 

Lausanne Week (early July)

The Lausanne week is an intense period of analysis of the existing work and site conditions. It is supplemented with lectures that introduce students to some of the ideas defining practice and pedagogy at the Open City: the role of poetry and poiesisobservación and the open-ended project. Analysis is done through drawing (by hand with tools supplied by the workshop) and model tests. Work-days finish with informal critiques where findings are discussed. During the week there will also be an introduction to the working and safety issues related to the workshop and to living near the Open City. Students will work in teams and one of the goals of the week is to create a group spirit that will develop throughout the workshop. 

Open City (August)

The first days of the chantier is meant as a practical introduction to some of the ideas encountered during the Lausanne week. Lectures and events by members of the Open City community introduce students to the pedagogical and poetic approach of the school and provide them with an overview of the Open City and its architecture and community. This first encounter with the Open City and El Pórtico de los Huéspedes will involve drawing and observation, site analysis through a poetic act and visits to Open City projects. At the same time, students will develop the analysis begun in Lausanne using information available to them directly through measurement and observation. During the first week, an idea for the project goals during the workshop will take shape.

During a second moment, students will undertake tests using drawing and 1:1 construction that help articulate and define the goals of the chantier. Each day will be punctuated by a group meeting after lunch when student teams will share the direction of their work and others will be able to ask questions. It is also during these meetings that decisions taken about the work will be explained and discussed. At some point during the second week testing will be replaced with direct interventions onto the site in pursuit of the goals of the work. Site work will be preceded by a discussion of safety guidelines on the work site.

Project Team 

Patricia Guaita, Lecturer and Scientist, ENAC IA ALICE EPFL

David Jolly, Professor, Ead PUC Valparaíso, Chile

Invited Experts

Raffael Baur, Architect, Zürich

Patrick Valeri, Doctoral Assistant, ENAC IIC IBETON, EPFL

Romano Wyss, Scientist, ENAC IIE HERUS

Victoria Jolly, architect and artist, Corporación Amereida, Chile

Project Administrator

Béatrice Bouy, EPFL –ENAC – IA-GE

Contribution from SAR ENAC EPFL

Contribution from IA ENAC EPFL

Contribution from “Projeter Ensemble” ENAC EPFL

Contribution from Ead PUC Valparaíso

video: Lerna Bagdjian, architecture student – Music: Jean Viviant, civil engineer student

“Hands of architecture students, civil and environmental engineering students, teachers, poets, artists, Swiss and Chileans.

Hands;

as a vector between the individual and the collective thinking,

as an interface between the conception and the creation,

as a mesh of several disciplines,

as a protagonist for the process.”

Follow the Summer Workshop 2019 adventure on the blog of EPFL out there.