Every year at the Master Interior Architecture INSIDE we choose a year theme as an impulse to the curriculum to explore a specific phenomenon in the built environment. We could not have imagined when we decided upon Fruitful Inefficiency as this year's theme, it would be relevant not only to our program but to society as a whole; at least as far as the term inefficiency concerns. As a result of the covid-19 crisis, the global society was extremely restricted in its freedom of movement. Also our program moved from the INSIDE studio space in The Hague to the digital world of Teams, Zoom and Skype.
The online education we had to switch to halfway through this academic year at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague, is like driving through a fascinating landscape in a sealed and fully air-conditioned car with light brown windows. Scent, tactile sensations, humidity, light, temperatures, meaningful body movements and other tangible expressions are lost as essential information, and just the image and voice remain. Although the digital world has endless storage capacity, computer communication leaves no physical traces. When the conversation is over, all that remains is silence, emptiness and maybe some megabytes on a hard disk somewhere that only contribute to the longing for the next meeting.
Through the covid-19 crisis, INSIDE students showed their resilience. They appeared to be able to use the limitations of the situations they had to deal with in an extraordinary 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. I would therefore like to compliment all our students on their perseverance and resilience. I also have to thank all our tutors, (guest)lecturers and facilitators at the KABK for their ingenuity and willingness to make extra efforts. It fills me with pride to be the head of INSIDE.
This year we proudly present 10 graduating students. They have researched a rich variety of social and cultural challenges in various contexts and developed them into proposals for spatial change. Surprising are the variation in positions and approaches that the graduating students developed during the year, next to their ability to mediate, curate, moderate and even perform spatial change processes. We witnessed the development of a project connecting two completely different neighbourhoods of Buenos Aires in a playful way (Natali Blugerman), an exploration into the rural way of living in a Tibetan urban context (Keyi Xiang), and a thorough design research into the future possibilities of an ever-expanding shophouse in West-Java (Devina Amelia).
Other students stayed closer to The Hague and investigated the dike system of the Hoeksche Waard (Samantha Vosse) or the spatial identity of immigrants in The Hague (Shripal Shah). Half of the graduating students did not define a specific geographical location but explored the relationships between sound and space (Michael Barchini), the political character of objects in public space (Sebastian Koukkides), spatial textile interventions that provoke movement and interaction (Davida Rauch), the identity of new urban professionals called Hello Everyone workers (Aušra Česnauskytė), and finally performed spatial experiments towards a new normal within the limitations of the private living space (Mary Fawry).
As INSIDE we are extremely excited to welcome this great diversity of special spatial projects. We hope you will also enjoy this wealth of student proposals for spatial change. I am especially grateful to everyone who supported its creation. We wish all our students a bright and healthy future within the world of interior architecture.
Samantha deeply analysed the riverdikes of the Hoeksche Waard (NL) and found a new understanding of the connection of dikes and people living nearby. Finding answers to questions about this coexistence from a human perspective. Her involved, critical and complete analysis transformed important events of the past of the local ‘dike history’ into a view on possible options for the future, how to involve dikes in a new way. Starting from emotional consequences of a life in between dikes, Samanthas designs foresee a clever integration of dikes in social, public and private spaces. As her guiding tutor Jan Körbes describes her project.
In the very last phase of graduation Samantha made a bold and risky move. Instead of narrating her experiences with the polder dikes in the form of a monumental sculpture on the dike, as she originally intended, Samantha translated her findings into the language of the polderdikelandscape itself. Instead of adding artificial shapes, she looked for ways to make the narrative of the historical changes visible in the relationships between the existing elements of the dike structures and the housing that is connected to that. That was a courageous act that is greatly appreciated. it testifies to the courage and ingenuity that are important for a professional career in interior architecture.
At the very presentation of the first project at INSIDE, Mary took her tutors to a studio at the school where she had managed to get an old-fashioned overhead projector. The presentation Mary gave was a fascinating combination of animation and shadow play that seemed far away from the language of architecture but in the end perfectly introduced her project. In her graduation Mary continued with this talent to confront her audience with unusual use of space in a special and attractive way. In one of the videos Mary made, two people featured in a dinner organised by her on a busy train platform.
Mary was ready to cause a whole series of experiments like this when the pandemic made it impossible. Initially Mary struggled with the limitations that this brought with it, but in the end it turned out that being locked up in her own home was no obstacle at all to a fascinating reflection on that home. A reflection that ended in a breathtaking film in which, among other things, Mary presented her toilet concept and managed to portray the toilet as the absolute core space for finding and regaining human self-confidence over and over again. Her exceptional graduation project not only earned Mary a nomination for this year's KABK master awards but also a nomination for the Master Thesis Award.
Sebastian's starting point for graduation was a special observation of a disappeared bench in public space. The bum he had seen sleeping on earlier was now lying on the same spot on the ground. It raised the question in him about the politics of the objects in the city. Was this coincidence or deliberate? Sebastian then took a considerable amount of time to make that question his own and embrace it as his own project. Sebastian made an inventarisation and analysis, but also hesitated. He took the time to rediscover the decisiveness with which he had started the education. A need for decisiveness that he did not always recognize in the architectural questions he was confronted with.
Finally Sebastian was able to translate what first remained quite conceptual into a comprehensible storyline. He concluded his project with a fascinating dystopian film in which the urban objects he designed were constantly being used and manipulated for political motives. This put an end to what has been an essential journey for Sebastians future explorations as a designer. A future that will most likely not lie in the actual shaping of spatial situations. Rather, it will take the form of artistic activism within the use of the built environment.
Devina's family shophouse in Sukaboemi on West-Java is the star of her research and of her final graduation project. This shophouse was founded and expanded in the last century by Devinas grandparents, courageous and resilient in the face of opposition, in a remarkable way. Devina immediately started this graduation year with this fascinating topic and could easily interest design tutors to guide her. Fokke Moerel who guided Devina wrote that she felt it as an honor and a joy to get to know her background while navigating through her personal devotion on the one hand and pragmatic and entrepreneur-like approach on the other.
Fokke established that Nostalgia for Devina clearly goes beyond the romantic view on how things were better before. Looking back at the past brings opportunities for Devina because she is able to learn from it: social inclusivity, vernacular innovations, re-invention of crafts and building methods and value of local materials. From these insights Devina is able to develop new forms of co-living, co-working, adaptive typology, transformation and phasing, micro economy and much more. INSIDE is confident that also in her professional practice Devina will be able to develop new concepts from the knowledge of vernacular development strategies. Her exceptional graduation project earned Devina a nomination for this year's KABK master awards.
Keyi started her graduation with a topic that she has been fascinated with even before joining us at INSIDE. Keyi went back to the area in Tibet where her grandmother originally is from. Keyi researched how developments in China have affected this region and the daily life of its people. She felt the need to play a role in these developments and asked herself what she can do as a designer. And that's where her graduation roller coaster began, a trajectory that she set in motion very well by carefully and beautifully portraying the effect of the changes on the way people live in the area.
It finally became clear to Keyi what her stay at our education could offer to her. Something she had been looking for throughout her first year. In the end Keyi did not make an actual spatial design but designed a strategy that connects new wishes with old knowledge. With designing and proposing an education programme for exchanging Chinese rural and urban skills, Keyi encourages a creative and experimental knowledge exchange to inspire, appreciate and learn from one another. I am confident that Keyi will be able to realise this strategy and look forward to seeing the results in the future.
I remember a moment last year when Michael and I explored his travel blog together. There was a certain distance noticable between Michael and the places he portrayed. It seemed as if Michael was looking at the space around him from his own secluded world. A photograph of himself in the reflection of a shop window made it clear why that was. On his walks Michael was wearing huge heavy headphones with his own soundtrack, something he always did on his travels through the built environment. But this is exactly what Michael managed to use this year for his graduation project in a remarkable way.
Michael explored the possibilities of embracing the sounds of the city instead of shutting them out. Instead of letting his own sound determine his impression of the city, he developed a strategy to let the sounds of the city determine his impression of the city in a much more powerful way. Michael wanted to use sound to merge with the city and developed tools and exercises for his sonic city. A project that is hopefully just the beginning of a fascinating new perspective on the city.
Davida started her education at INSIDE from her dissatisfaction with the limitations of architecture in her previous education. Davida was looking for her own role in architecture that was not about building houses, but offered space for a direct relationship with body and movement. In her first year, she came across a lot of things that were not what she was looking for. But the development of Davidas graduation project reads like a straight line of intention, through research into the design and realization of her participative proposal.
The research tutors appreciated her project as a plea to incorporate ingredients not significantly intrinsic to spatial design like intuition, spontaneity, freedom, performance and moving and sensing the body. With her project Davida aims at a fuller realm of engagement towards a more harmonious and resilient form of living and working together. This ambition is highly welcome and much needed in our profession. In her design she succeeded to move fluidly through all the disciplines of the profession. While not stopping to design and research, Davida tested and built an event within the public domain in that she connected and directed her own neighbourhood. Davida excels in collaboration and is without fear for realisation. Her work displays a colourful and addictive joy, which is revealed in the remarkable presentation of her project.
Shripal's research began from a very personal notion: how can one start to feel at home in a new urban environment? To do so, Shripal undertook a long journey along colourful neighbourhoods in Paris Antwerp and Rotterdam. What I particularly appreciate about his graduation project is the merciless confrontation with prejudices in urban society. And especially the way in which Shripal has not avoided the confrontation with his own prejudices. In the research phase Shripal showed his ability to deal with a complex, multi-layered and often confronting problem. The research tutors concluded that his fieldwork-oriented way, drawing from urbanism as well as geography and anthropology, was complemented by excellent writing and synthesizing skills.
For the elaboration of the thoughts Shripal developed in his research, he focussed on Tranvaal, a The Hague neighbourhood with a colorful migration background. There Shripal was confronted with a culture that turned out to be as strange as it was recognisable to him. And that's where his original enterprise stranded in the restrictions imposed by the pandemic. However, Shripal showed resilience and flexibility and was able to conclude his studies at INSIDE with a remarkable project. In that project he consciously did not use his ability to design imaginative architecture, but focused on the social aspects of the built environment and the creation of meaning within it. I especially appreciate this choice of Shripal to use his graduation for his own development and not only to think about his future position on the real estate market.
Ausra's graduation actually started in her very first week at inside when we visited Berlin. There she saw a lamppost with so many posters stuck on top of each other that it had formed its own shape. The originally functional information carriers had taken on an autonomous form. A fascinating blob of paper and glue had emerged. Ausra developed her own visual language from this observation, which in fact immediately led to special work uniforms in the very first Studioproject at INSIDE, where Ausra let her classmates walk around with blue blobbed masks containing water, bread rolls or just small peepholes. In her graduation Ausras approach even led to the design of her own 'urban tribe' with which she successfully completed her education at INSIDE. Ausra didn't just come up with that tribe, she set it up right away. Ausra found members in several countries, drew up business plans and designed uniforms for them.
I see Ausras work as a unique form of 'grounded fantasy' in which she successfully combines her special idealistic fantasy with extreme hands-on realism. Her orientation on the future appeared to be very clear from the fact that Ausra finally presented her proposal for the 'urban tribe' in the form of a children's book. Her exceptional graduation project earned Ausra a nomination for this year's KABK master awards.
The uniqueness of the achievement of the graduating students this year cannot be overemphasized. But I would also like to discuss the very diverse nature of your projects here. This year they were not only geographically divided, but also contain a fascinating thematic diversity. Students came up with proposals for dike landscapes and toilets, self-developed shophouses and soundscapes, political urban furniture and childrens books. In this way they built networks through weaving, uniformisation, revelation, awareness and exaggeration, from the Hoeksche Waard to Tibet and back to The Hague via West Java, all the projects are strongly future-oriented. A future that starts in today's reality but doesn't avoid utopian fantasies. All projects are characterized by a respectful relationship with the people in the built environment. People for whom they create possibilities to claim their own position within that context. It was therefore an extra honour and pleasure for me this year to be able to hand out the master diplomas.
Head of Master Interior Architecture (INSIDE)
Find out more about the Master Interior Architecture (INSIDE) offered at the Royal Academy of Art, The Hague (KABK).