Scarcity and Creativity



Scarcity and Creativity
Constructions: the work of Oslo Architecture
School’s ‘Scarcity and Creativity’1 studio
Al cabo de varias décadas de predominio de la abstracción
digital en la arquitectura experimental, sobre todo en el
ámbito académico, un taller de la Escuela de Arquitectura
y Diseño de Oslo se ha propuesto trabajar en lo que
podríamos llamar “artesanía poética”: usar el acto de
construir como impulso creativo en la arquitectura.
Este artículo presenta los resultados de los dos
primeros talleres de esta labor: Scarcity and Creativity
in Latitude 33s y Scarcity and Creativity in Latitude
68n. Los resultados hay que entenderlos como “trabajo
en curso”, como un proceso de investigación acerca
del quehacer arquitectónico. En el tercer taller de esta
serie se construirá una sede comunitaria para el pueblo
de Pumanque (VI Región, Chile), entre fines de 2013 y
comienzos de 2014.
After several decades of predominance of digital
abstraction in experimental architecture, especially in the
academic environment, one studio in the Oslo School of
Architecture and Design has decided to work on what we
could call “poetic crafts”: to use the act of building as a
creative impulse in architecture.
This article presents the results of the two initial studios
in this endeavour: Scarcity and Creativity in Latitude 33S
and Scarcity and Creativity in Latitude 68N. The results
must be understood as a “work in progress”, as a process
of research on architectural practice. In this third studio
in the series a communal hall will be built for the town
of Pumanque (VI Region, Chile), between the end of 2013
and beginning of 2014.
Michael U. Hensel
Architect, Cologne University of Applied
Sciences _ Architecture professor, Arkitektur og
designhøgskolen i Oslo (Norway).
Arquitecto de la Cologne University of Applied
Sciences _ Profesor de Arquitectura en el
Arkitektur og designhøgskolen i Oslo (Noruega).
Scarcity and Creativity in Latitude 33s:
A collaboration between PUCV (E[ad]) and
Oslo (AHO) schools of architecture and design
Christian Hermansen Cordua
Architect, Pontificia Universidad Católica de
Chile _ Architecture professor, Arkitektur og
designhøgskolen i Oslo (Norway).
Arquitecto de la Pontificia Universidad Católica
de Santiago _ Profesor de Arquitectura en el
Arkitektur og designhøgskolen i Oslo (Noruega).
Solveig Sandness
Civil engineer, Trondheim University _ Reader at
Arkitektur og designhøgskolen i Oslo (Norway).
Ingeniero Civil de la Universidad de
Trondheim _ Lector en la Arkitektur og
designhøgskolen i Oslo (Noruega).
Project Walk the Line, construction.
In 1952, a group of architects and artists, led by Chilean architect Alberto
Cruz and Argentinian poet Godofredo
Iommi, took over Pontificia Universidad
Materialidad _ poesía _ Amereida _ Círculo Polar Ártico _ “Walk
the Line” _ “Hospedería de las Alas” _ “Las Piedras del Cielo” _
“Catenarias Anidadas” _ “Floating Compression” _ “2x2”.
Materiality _ poetry _ Amereida _ Arctic Polar Circle _ “Walk
the Line” _ “Hospedería de las Alas” _ “Las Piedras del Cielo” _
“Catenarias Anidadas” _ “Floating Compression” _ “2x2”.
Católica de Valparaíso’s School of Architecture2 (E[ad]) and proposed a new orientation for it, based on a poetic vision of
architecture that has guided the school
until today.
In 1964, this group publishes an epic
poem entitled Amereida, which elaborates a vision of America, its origins and
destiny, at the same time establishing
the mission of the school. Its form is
“concrete poetry”, whose origins can be
found in classical Greek poetry, resurrected around 1950 in São Paulo, Brazil,
where the group Noigandres3 publishes
the first manifesto of concrete poetry.
The relevance of concrete poetry for
the Amereida project lies in that the use
of words dealing with both its meaning
as well as its form and arrangement in
space, which suggests an association between poetry and architecture.
The poetic act for reception: phalène.
From this poetic vision and its compromise with America come the “travesías”, trips that cross the American
continent offering architectural interventions and collective poetic acts called
“phalènes”4 . 19 1970 the professors of
(E[ad]) purchase a 270 Hectare lot facing
the Pacific in Ritoque, North of Concón,
and found Ciudad Abierta (Open City) to
be used as a laboratory for experimental
architecture. (E[ad]) sees Ciudad Abierta
as a Project under permanent development, conceived and re-conceived continuously. In 2011, Michael Hensel and
Christian Hermansen, who already had
experience doing workshops in different
parts of the world, received an invitation
to collaborate in a (E[ad]) design studio
led by David Jolly and David Luza. The
collective studio Scarcity and Creativity
in Latitude 33s was offered to graduate
students of Oslo’s Architecture School in
the first semester, 2012. Twenty-one students decided to participate in this studio. In conversations with (E[ad]), they
found out that Ciudad Abierta needed to
provide accommodations for its numerous international visitors, as well as the
neighbours, professors, students and
their families that use Ciudad Abierta
as a place of leisure and to observe the
numerous birds in the natural reserve
around the Mantagua river.
The studio was organized with the
aim of balancing the didactical responsibilities with those related to the construction of habitable buildings, while
1 This workshops have been
made possible thanks to
financing by Oslo School of
Architecture and Design,
RCAT (Research Centre for
Architecture and Tectonics)
and the SCRIBE (Scarcity
and Creativity in the Built
Environment) research
project, financed by HERA,
European Union.
2 Editor’s note: the other
founders of the school are
sculptor Claudio Girola,
architects Miguel Eyquem,
Francisco Méndez, Jaime
Bellalta, José Vial, Fabio Cruz
and Arturo Baeza.
3 Editor’s note: The concrete
poetry Group Noigandres
was formed in 1952 by
Haroldo de Campos, Décio
Pignatari and Augusto de
Campos, who tried to take
the Word to other realms.
4 Editor’s note: The phalènes
were poetic improvisations
that Iommi performed in
Paris in the 50´s.
The studio was organized seeking to balance the educational responsibilities with
those emerging from the construction of habitable buildings, satisfying at the same time
the ambition of contributing to the architectural experiment of Ciudad Abierta.
meeting at the same time the goal of
contributing to the architectural experi-
ment of Ciudad Abierta. To achieve this
goal in a four-month semester, the work
was organized in the manner of a professional studio led by architects Hensel
and Hermansen and supported by civil
engineer Solveig Sandness, professor at
AHO; engineer Guillem Baraut Bover,
from BOMA Inpasa firm in Barcelona;
and INTEGRATE studio from London,
who made the digital models to calculate the impact of the wind on the structures. Architect Joakim Hoen from Oslo
did a course on Rhino and Grasshopper
programs, which were used to model
the buildings based on components and
their relations. This allowed to make
quick design changes and to find materials and requirements different from
those foreseen in Oslo.
At the beginning of the workshop, the
students were asked to work in couples
and generate architectural concepts
that would satisfy the workshop’s objectives. After a few weeks, these ideas
were passed from one team to another,
so that a new couple could continue to
develop them. At this stage, the emphasis was on creativity in conditions of
scarcity, expensiveness both of resources as well as time and knowledge of the
context where the construction was going to take place; promoting at the same
time research and experimentation.
As the design process progressed, the
groups of students, as well as the ideas
in which they were working on, started
binding together, until finally three
groups emerged, working around the
three projects that were built.
The research that was developed
around each project, besides assuring
that the requirements of usability and
architectural experimentation were
met, consisted in analysing the construction material and its characteristics; its costs; the construction process;
the structural requirements, especially
those pertaining to the forces generated
by earthquakes and wind gusts; and the
consequences of founding buildings on
sand. About this last requirement, the
Norwegian team had no experience.
Therefore, they had to arrive at the site
without making the final decisions.
One month before departing for
Chile, drawings of the three projects
were sent to (E[ad]) so they could study
the possible locations for each one.
When they arrived in Chile, they were
received with a magnificent phalène,
a collective poetic act in which the
students from Oslo and from (E[ad])
formed a circle 100 meters in diameter
on the slopes of a large dune. Inside the
circle, the latitudes of Oslo and Valparaiso were drawn and fifteen students of
each group stood over their respective
latitudes spelling the vowels of their
names, transcending in this way geography and uniting the groups with the
purpose of tackling a common task.
Thus, the construction was initiated.
The first project, called “Walk the Line”,
consists of a small room to provide the
visitors of Ciudad Abierta with lodging
for a few days. The group that carried out
this project started analysing the Artisan’s
House designed by Le Corbusier, which is
a double-height cube with an attic to sleep
in. The project consists of a cube bisected
by a diagonal that separates the interior
from the exterior and cantilevers out as
an observation deck that connects the
nearby dune landscape of with the distant
Pacific Ocean. The twelve-meter span and
the forces that it carries down to the foundations were the technical challenges of
this work. The interior of the room was
completed by one of the students that remained living there when the others had
already returned to Norway.
The second project, called “Lodge of
the wings”, is a shelter from where the
various birds in the Mantagua natural
reserve can be observed. The wooden
structure formed by two curving planes
that intersect was built using only one
type of 1”x 5” boards. The curving planes
close in the direction of the winds and
open to the views over the natural reserve, camouflaging at the same time the
presence of the observer.
Walk the Line
The third project, called “The Stones
of the Sky”, is used to prepare food, eat
in open air and observe nature. A board
made of moulded wood provides a group
of people surfaces where to sit or lay, besides a small space to cook and a central
fireplace that serves both to sit around in
fresh nights as well as for barbecues. The
sitting area is protected by a system of
tensile canvases. In this project, the individual footings required special attention, since each one experiments both
compression and tension forces generated by the strong coastal winds during the winter season. These conditions
required a computer-generated simulation of the wind currents, the forces on
the tensile canvases, the resistance of
materials and the calculation of details
capable of resisting them.
Besides the three projects already described, a fourth project was built in the
site of Ciudad Abierta cemetery. PhD
candidate Defne Sunguroğlu-Hensel and
Norwegian construction builder Øyvind
Buset directed the project called “Nested
Catenaries”, which focused on the structural capabilities of a system of one layer
of non-reinforced bricks. The forms in this
project were developed through a contemporary version of Antoni Gaudi’s model
of hanging chains. Structural analysis
was done by Guillem Baraut Bover, from
BOMA Inpasa, Barcelona.
As of today, all four projects have withstood earthquakes and coastal storms,
and the intention is to visit the projects by
the end of 2013 to see how they have resisted and learn from it.
Walk the Line,
Stones of the Sky,
the work in use.
Stones of the Sky
Lodge of the Wings
Lodge of the Wings,
the work in use.
Walk the Line, the project.
The students have their say:
behind every project, there is always
a big “BUT”
ning roles and responsibilities. Nevertheless,
biggest group had too many people, making
the lengthy discussions seemed to have been
it difficult to find tasks for every member; the
advantageous, since the group had several al-
smallest group did not have enough hands to
The text that follows is a summary of an open
ternatives for each decision, and they became
develop the project. Some students believed
discussion that took place on November 14,
part of the repertoire of possibilities to which
that the idea of breaking individual authorship
2012 with ten students from the workshop
they could resort to in case of facing an unfo-
of the projects was very good, but that putting
Scarcity and Creativity in Latitude 33s during
reseen problem.
it into practice should have been more extreme.
the first semester, 2012, at Oslo School of Ar-
What dominated the decision-making process was
chitecture and Design (AHO). The purpose of
the ideal of consensus, and, in the cases where an
the discussion was to reflect on the workshop
agreement was not achieved, satisfaction of the
experience at Ciudad Abierta, Ritoque, in colla-
majority. Tactics also played an important role in
Despite the fact that E[ad] and AHO had deci-
boration with UCV’s School of Architecture and
this process, separating issues worth fighting for
ded that this would be a collaborative studio,
Design (E[ad]). The discussion was recorded, a
from those that could be left to others to decide.
the nature of the role of each school was not
transcript was done and distributed among the
It was the project submittal deadlines, at the end,
clarified in detail. This caused a certain degree
participants, who in turn were asked to submit
that put a limit to the discussions.
of frustration in both groups of students at the
Stones of the Sky, digital studies.
beginning of the construction stage. The pro-
corrections and comments that were incorpora-
cess was that AHO students designed and de-
The site
mester abroad considered that four months had
used and purchase less tools than they would
During the course of the workshop, the archi-
tailed the three buildings in Oslo and arrived
Once in Ciudad Abierta, AHO students realized
been too much, and that an absence of five to six
have desired.
Team Work
tectural concepts developed by the students
at Ciudad Abierta aware that the construction
that they had not understood the characteristics
weeks was ideal.
AHO promotes work in small groups of students
were passed from group to group to break in-
period was very short, so they were anxious to
of the site: its limits, its relation to the sea, its
Cohabitation between members of the AHO
during the first three years of study. Projects
dividual authorship and promote collective
start building right away. The students at E[ad]
winds, levels of contamination, nature of the soil,
group that were lodged together in an apartment
The workshop has received plenty of attention in
at the graduate level, however, are mostly de-
authorship. This meant that a group that recei-
had received the projects a couple of weeks
the effect of earthquakes, nature, availability of
building was considered beneficial. The location
international publications and deserved an exhi-
veloped individually, not because of a policy
ved an idea had the duty to accept it in general
prior to the beginning of construction, and had
building materials, etc. If these factors had been
of the residence, in downtown Valparaiso, Plaza
bition in Oslo, besides being selected finalist at
fostering individualism, but rather because the
terms and develop it instead of questioning its
done a study of possible locations. This was
understood, it would have influenced the design
la Matriz, resulted more colorful, animated and
RIBA President’s Medals competition in London.
way the studios are conceived requires research
foundations. Each time an architectural con-
used by both groups to select the site for each
of the buildings. Some students suggested that
dangerous than we had imagined. Despite two
All the students expressed being very happy that
in order to define the program that will be the
cept or project migrated, the number of avai-
project. During the construction process, E[ad]
perhaps E[ad] students could have prepared the
robberies that affected them, the group conside-
their work would get international recognition and
foundation of the architectural work. These un-
lable options was reduced considerably, while
students would propose changes to the projects
logistics at the beginning of the construction
red that the location was worthwhile.
commented that they felt their credibility had in-
certainties make organizing joint work difficult.
the nature of the decisions that had to be taken
they were working on, something that met some
process: materials, tools, tracing of the buil-
Nevertheless, graduate students are presently
changed, referring each time to aspects that
resistance from AHO students. This caused
dings, etc. The few students that actually lived in
and give them the confidence of being able to pro-
debating the advantages and disadvantages
were ever more detailed. At the beginning of
a certain degree of frustration in both groups
Ciudad Abierta said that by doing so they acqui-
One of the objectives of the workshop was stu-
duce something that was “real” and deserved at-
of teamwork and, in sum, they see in it several
the process, decisions were of an abstract na-
at the beginning of the construction stage and
red a great understanding of the place, both by
dying how scarcity, in this case of budget, site
tention. Some mentioned that their friends abroad
advantages: incorporation of different abilities
ture, relating to the concept that would guide
required some time before the respective tasks
day and by night, besides having more opportu-
conditions and construction schedule af fect
had seen and commented the projects, something
in the project, potential for the debate of ideas
the project, and as it became more concrete,
were fully clarified. Despite this, collaboration
nities of bonding with E[ad] students.
architectural creativity. Each group was asked
that made them feel part of an international ar-
and the challenge of having to develop the ideas
decisions became more practical and techni-
between both schools ended up being very pro-
There was a debate over whether having more
to design and build within a very tight budget
chitecture community.
with the aim of convincing the rest about their
cal, and discussions were centred in matters of
ductive and AHO students learned a lot about
experience available, having an expert around,
over which they had full control. Students con-
Others mentioned having discovered the relation
value. The size of the group is important; wor-
efficiency, capacity, ease of construction, costs,
E[ad] students’ way of working, besides develo-
would have helped speed-up the construction
sidered this a dif ficult task, for they did not
between a line in an architectural drawing and its
king in large groups, of eight to ten students,
etc. As the projects migrated from one group to
ping good personal relations.
process, or if this would have limited the expe-
have specific training or experience in it. Cost
consequences in the construction process, especia-
makes decision-making complicated, and the
another, these became more stable and cohe-
Another factor that caused some irritation
rimentation by making it easier to arrive at the
calculation was done exclusively on the basis
lly in terms of the resources and efforts necessary to
difference in the amount of work contributed by
rent. Some students suggested that the groups
within the AHO group at the beginning of the
“right solution” each time a problem arose.
of materials that were available through the
transform that line into an element of the building.
each individual interferes with relations within
should be reconstituted each time the projects
construction process was the working schedule:
web page of a construction materials supplier.
Seeing photographs of their projects in interna-
the group. These relations become harder du-
migrated; others were of the opinion that this
some students arrived at the site at noon, ma-
Working abroad
Besides, having to purchase so many tools
tional magazines has led some students to the
ring the design process, in which everyone
would have led to having to re-establish the
king workflow planning very difficult since the
Everybody agreed that having the chance to de-
was not foreseen. An extra expense that was
conclusion that behind every published image
wants to contribute, proposing different pers-
group dynamics, something that resulted diffi-
tasks were co-dependent. Another problem that
dicate full attention to the construction process
possible only because one of the projects was
there is a whole story that the image in itself
pectives to the creative process, resulting in a
cult at the beginning of the course. The last ro-
the group leaders had to deal with was distribu-
of their designs was a fantastic experience. Some
cancelled at the last minute, so that its bud-
does not reveal, and this has given a new dimen-
loss of coherence in the design. In the case of
tation of projects and members occurred when
ting the tasks to assure a continuous progress
even suggested that it was such a special expe-
get was used for this purpose. Cost calculation
sion to the images they see in magazines: seeing
this studio, it is agreed that too much time was
the studio had to choose the three projects that
of the construction process. The task of distri-
rience that it should be made obligatory.
was done mainly by the captains of each group,
the image of a building that one has conceived
dedicated to discuss how to do things instead of
would be built. Once the decision was taken by
buting work was more difficult the days when
All agreed that the site should be far enough
so most of the students did not have to deal
and built and realizing that behind it there is a
just doing them. The solution to these difficul-
voting, each student was given the opportunity
all AHO and E[ad] students showed up at the
as to prevent returning home during the cons-
with this problem. Only one of the groups had
world of events that the image doesn’t show. This
ties was to designate a group captain that me-
to choose the project in which to work. This re-
site, because tasks had to be assigned for 20 to
truction stage. Some students that had taken
serious problems with their budget and was
evidence led the students to entitle this text: “Be-
diated in the difficult decisions, besides assig-
sulted in team sizes being very dissimilar. The
30 students in each of the buildings.
courses requiring them to spend the whole se-
forced to reduce the quality of the materials
hind every project there is a big ‘BUT’”.
ted in this version.
During the course of the studio the architectural concepts developed by the students were passing
The three works, exhibition.
creased, and that this would help them get jobs
from group to group, so as to break individual authorship and promote group authorship.
Scarcity and Creativity in Latitude 68n:
a collaboration between Nusfjord AS
and Oslo’s School of Architecture and
Design (AHO)
Project: Floating compression
The projects developed by the Scarcity and Creativity in Latitude 68n are
located in the town of Nusfjord, in the
northeastern coast of Norway, in the
Lofoten5 archipelago. This fishing town
surrounded by rocky mountains that
drop vertically into the fjord has been
continuously inhabited since the Viking
era (400-500 AD) and is considered one
of the most authentic and best preserved town in the Lofoten archipelago. In
the last 200 years, Nusfjord has been the
town where cod is fished and dried during the three months of winter, period
in which fishers from all over Norway
arrive, making its population grow from
a couple of dozens to 1.200 people. During the last decades of the 20th Century,
the fishing activity was industrialized
and concentrated in bigger towns, so fishing activity ceased in Nusfjord. At the
beginning of the 21st Century, the rescue
project began for the town, which had by
then been abandoned almost entirely.
Today, the summer tourists have replaced the annual migration of fishers, thus
maintaining the traditional cycle of the
town that sleeps most of the year and
awakens to receive hordes of visitors during a three-month period.
The studio Scarcity and Creativity was
invited to build two projects in Nusfjord
seeking to increment the services offered to summer visitors: one project (Floating Compression), located in front of the
restaurant, had to organize a pier and
transform it into a place to eat and drink
in open air; the second project, (2x2) consists of a terrace with a hot water bath
and sauna located in a sort of cauldron
that the sea has excavated in the rock.
From this place there are magnificent
views towards the mouth of the fjord and
the islands in front of Bodø6.
The design process of these two projects was carried out at Oslo Architecture
School through a succession of architectural contests during which the number
of projects was gradually reduced from
twenty-five individual entries to the two
that finally got built. The two finalist projects were drawn in Rhino-grasshopper
programs, facilitating both the changes
that had to be made at the beginning of
the construction as well as the definition
of the quantities of construction materials that would be required. All twentyfive students in the workshop plus three
professors spent five weeks in Nusfjord
building both projects.
The Floating Compression project, located in front of the restaurant, had to organize the pier and
turn it into a place to eat and drink in open air.
5 Editor’s note: Although
it is located north of the
Polar Circle, Lofoten
Archipelago has very mild
winter temperatures,
which constitute the biggest
anomaly in the world of
temperature related to
latitude (the Gulf Current
is responsible for this
6 Editor’s note: Bodø is a city
of 46 thousand inhabitants.
Nazis bombed it during
WWII, destroying 67% of its
constructions. The reasons
for the bombing is unclear.
Project 2x2
The 2x2 project consists of a terrace and a hot water bath with a sauna located in a sort of cauldron that the sea
has excavated in the rock.