Lehrstuhl für Gebäudelehre, RWTH Aachen, 2020

This studio seeks to conceive an architecture in motion. It serves as collective research into several key themes; the perception and design of architecture in motion, the aesthetics of repetition and the modular, and the potential of the causal and the banal. Through new means of digital representation we find a workable method to address these themes simultaneously. A series of small design research exercises explore the potential of each theme individually.

We often do not realise that railway stations were built for trains rather than men. It is hard to find another building in the city that devotes so much of its surface area to a mechanical infrastructure which supports massive metal machines rolling on heavy metal wheels along long metal tracks. Within this large apparatus, the stations’ travellers are confined to a simple platform. It is only due to our familiarity with these places that we do not see their futuristic absurdity.

A strong quality of the place can be found in its repetition. Long platforms are systematically laced with travel information displays, seats for waiting, screens against the wind, trash cans, lights, and vending machines. Along it, the heavy tracks rest on a densely repetitive bed of sleepers bolted in with two bolts each. The arriving trains comprise repetitive chains of the same wagon, each lined with a single or double row of windows, through which the slightly misaligned repetitive seats can be found.

Repetition is the element that makes these banal objects and structures work. Viewed alone, it is easy to consider that purely functional reasons drive these places to look as they do. From object to object, appearances can vary considerably. Yet, because all elements are arranged in their own repetitive chains, running along the tracks from one end of the station to the other, the components begin to relate to one another. A structured collection of ordinary parts can comprise something extraordinary as a collective whole.

Perhaps the most beautiful moment takes place upon departure. When the train slowly pulls out of the station, the multitude of rhythms begin to slide along one another at different speeds. The station becomes a composition of motion, facilitated only by its causal repetitive elements and structures that make up this mechanical place.

As the eye moves through space, the space moves with it. Even though most designed spaces are static, a passage through them will show that surfaces slide into view at variable speeds depending on their distance and spatial composition. Even though this dynamic sequence is an important one, we rarely discuss them in our architectural discourse. Maybe we never had the tools to do so, always confined by the static sketch or the printed image. As our means have greatly improved over time thanks to our increased digital capabilities, we are now able to explore the potential of the architectural impression in motion.

These themes of repetitive patterns in motion and the ambition to make something extraordinary out of the repetitive banal are central to contemporary art. The studio studies these themes closely, particularly looking at the ZERO movement, which makes almost industrial looking systems through low tech means, such as folded paper and indented clay. As well as Radical Art and what followed from it. The history of the railway industry also serves as a key reference, making tangible a two century evolution.
STUDENT WORK MSC-2: Martin Gjoleka, Katharina Glorius, Nabeel Jamal, Konstantinos Kontokostas, Angel Monev, Aleksandar Todorov, Marius Wißler, Azzam Zantah

STUDIO: Marius Grootveld
YEAR: 2020-21
CHAIR: Lehrstuhl für Gebäudelehre und Grundlagen des Entwerfens
PROF: Anne-Julchen Bernhardt

VELDWERK TEAM: Marius Grootveld