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Journal ArticleDOI

1:1 (Dis)section ‐ Learning through Full‐Scale Dissection and Transformations of Abandoned Buildings

01 May 2019-International Journal of Art and Design Education (John Wiley & Sons, Ltd)-Vol. 38, Iss: 2, pp 280-298

AboutThis article is published in International Journal of Art and Design Education.The article was published on 2019-05-01 and is currently open access. It has received 1 citation(s) till now. The article focuses on the topic(s): Experiential learning & Section (archaeology).

Summary (3 min read)

Introduction

  • The section is an essential tool for understanding, exploring, representing and communicating spatial relations, structure and materiality in architecture, design and engineering, and therefore a recurring topic in the curricula.
  • The section itself is destructive of nature and incompatible with a built environment in use or under construction.
  • The aim was to provide firstyear students with an experience of the relation between the section as a diagrammatic representation and the materiality, structure and spatial relations of a concrete building.
  • The climax of each workshop was a full-scale dissection and transformation of an abandoned house.

Dissection and environment

  • Due to its brutal nature, full-scale dissections must be carried out on buildings, which are permanently emptied of function.
  • The authors find these regions mostly on the many small islands and in what is known as the ‘rotten banana’.
  • The latter refers, by virtue of the shape, to the western regions of Denmark from Thisted in the North to Lolland in the South.
  • Similar to Denmark, the rural areas of many other countries experience severe demographical changes.
  • In some areas, the municipalities have taken initiative to tear down some of the most decrepit and unsightly houses.

Workshop design

  • The overall design was common to all of the four workshops, but was continuously improved.
  • The educational purpose was to teach students how to plan an investigation and documentation of temporary matters in architectural practice.
  • The learning experiences in the vertical full-scale dissection were linked to the ongoing exposure of the structure of the building as well as to the end result of the completed section.
  • Cinder is not a common material for a capillary break layer, but the building itself did not provide any information about the reason for this.
  • But maybe more important, it gave the locals an unique opportunity to revisit and share the collective memory of the village (Halbwachs and Coser, 1992).

The reconstruction phase

  • The aim of the re-construction phase was to urge to students revisit and reflect upon the achieved material- and spatial experiences in a situation, which not constantly required immediate decisions and actions, and to introduce an artistic mode of expression in the curriculum.
  • Also a broad variety of processed collections of narratives as well as selections of unfolded individual probes of investigations were exhibited into a range of physical biopsies, excavations, contextual documentations, interviews and cast latex imprints.
  • All the exhibitions were held in public areas, mainly in the exhibition areas at the school, but in one case as a re-constructed grocery store in the city hall of Aarhus.
  • Firstly, the deconstruction and the reconstruction represent the student’s interpretations of the building before, during and after the dissection respectively.

The didactic rationale

  • The authors discuss the didactic principles behind the workshops.
  • Hence, despite the flamboyant cases, the workshop design has several similarities with well-known didactic principles and can be used in various learning contexts aiming at higher order learning such as development and application of analytical strategies and abstract generalisation of observations (e.g. Kolb, 1984; Fraser, 2014; Schön, 1984).
  • The act of dissecting itself engaged the surrounding community and catalysed a local exchange of narratives of the building and the place.
  • The assumption is that the ‘controlled ruin’ represents a prototype of a radical preservation strategy concerning possible ways of maintaining local identity, building density and preserving cultural heritage in depopulating rural villages.
  • The horizontal split-level section was then all that remained of the building, which now gained the status of prototype of a ‘controlled ruin’ and became a part of the research project .

The ‘controlled ruin’ strategy

  • The ‘controlled ruin’ constitutes through partial demolition an attempt to compress and subsequently stretch the inherent matter of time in the natural decay process.
  • It made a common ground providing a mutual understanding between researcher and students.
  • This was particularly evident in the dissection phase.
  • Subsequent decay of the ‘controlled ruin’ proved to influence the feeling of the local community.

Students’ experiences and learning outcome

  • The workshops revealed that the physical dissection of a building has several educative potentials.
  • Besides the practical and safety aspects, the thorough planning in the iteration phase, forced the students to reactivate and use general structural principles to analyse the structure of a real building and to develop and collectively evaluate different approaches to the fullscale section.
  • Translated into the language of taxonomies, the iteration phase increased the complexity of knowledge from basic knowledge to application and evaluation (Bloom 1956).
  • One of these students reflected on his learning as follows: ‘I was very skeptical.
  • In most cases, the probes unfolded well on site and despite the complexity of the task, some probes so well designed that they directly displayed the results of the sub-investigation in the subsequent reconstruction phase.

Conclusion

  • The initial goals of the transformation workshops was to give students a genuine, experience based understanding of the structure and materiality of a building behind the section as a diagrammatic representation.
  • Besides an increased understanding of the structure of a building and relation between elements and a bodily impression of scale, spatiality and materiality, the students get a direct impression of how materials age in different ways and how spaces and materials are historical phenomena.
  • This became an unforeseen asset in the students’ education, as they in their early studies experienced that architectural intervention can be utilized to influence public discourse.
  • If the change of the built environment in the rural areas shall be more than a result of depopulation, decay and demolition, the situations of these areas must be handled with the same architectural engagement as new development.
  • Firstly, some students catch a genuine interest in the problem and makes it parts of their professional identify.

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This is the accepted manuscript (post-print version) of the article.
Contentwise, the accepted manuscript version is identical to the final published version, but there
may be differences in typography and layout.
How to cite this publication
Please cite the final published version:
Krag, M. M. S., & Keiding, T. B. (2018). 1:1 (dis)section - Learning through full-scale dissection and
transformations of abandoned buildings. The International Journal of Art & Design Education.
https://doi.org/10.1111/jade.12184
Publication metadata
Title:
1:1 (dis)section - Learning through full-scale dissection and
transformations of abandoned buildings
Author(s):
Tina Bering Keiding & Mo Michelsen Stochholm Krag
Journal:
The International Journal of Art & Design Education
DOI/Link:
10.1111/jade.12184
Document version:
Accepted manuscript (post-print)

1
1:1 (Dis)section Learning through Full-Scale Dissection and
Transformations of Abandoned Buildings
Mo Michelsen Stochholm Krag and Tina Bering Keiding
Abstract
The section is an essential tool for understanding, exploring, representing and communicating
spatial relations, structure and materiality in architecture, design and engineering, and
therefore a recurring topic in the curricula. The section itself is destructive of nature and
incompatible with a built environment in use or under construction. Hence, students
throughout their education meet the section in the form of diagrammatic representations, that
is, as forms of meaning emptied from scale, spatiality and materiality.
This article reports on a series of four workshops, held in the spring semesters from 2011 to
2014 for first-year students at Aarhus School of Architecture. The aim was to provide first-
year students with an experience of the relation between the section as a diagrammatic
representation and the materiality, structure and spatial relations of a concrete building. The
climax of each workshop was a full-scale dissection and transformation of an abandoned
house. As we shall see, the workshops fulfilled not only the intended learning goals, but
created an initially unforeseen and unique context for learning about the relations between
building and place and introduced the question regarding depopulation of rural areas as a
pertinent processional challenge. Beyond an educational value, the research project
‘Transformation on abandonment, a new critical practice? transpired from the workshops.
This research project and the interplay between teaching and research are discussed in the last
part of the article.

2
Keywords full-scale dissection, transformation, progressive education, research-based
teaching, hands-on, preservation
Dissection and environment
Due to its brutal nature, full-scale dissections must be carried out on buildings, which are
permanently emptied of function. Denmark witnesses a depopulation of rural areas and
villages in the so called ‘peripheral regions’. We find these regions mostly on the many small
islands and in what is known as the ‘rotten banana’. The latter refers, by virtue of the shape,
to the western regions of Denmark from Thisted in the North to Lolland in the South. Similar
to Denmark, the rural areas of many other countries experience severe demographical
changes. The population of the rural areas are abandoning their home villages and move to
the larger cities. Actually, the majority of the world’s population is now living in cities
(OECD, 2013; UN, 2014; Thorbeck, 2012; Woods, 2011). Rural depopulation is globally
contested in diverse ways (Versteegh and Meeres; 2015). In Denmark social migration
towards the cities is mainly caused by a decline in employment in food production based on
farming and the associated industries. Furthermore, a political tendency to centralize public
institutions has challenged the rural population during decades. The overall demography is
changing in the rural areas; the average age increases, as younger people seek educational or
occupational opportunities in the larger cities. The depopulation has led to a rapid drop in the
market value of houses, which causes solvency problems for property owners, as it is hard to
obtain loans to pay for even essential maintenance of buildings. One consequence of this
trend is an increasing number of abandoned houses, which gradually go from being
uninhabited to be uninhabitable. In some areas, the municipalities have taken initiative to tear
down some of the most decrepit and unsightly houses. A report by The Danish Town

3
Planning Institute estimated a volume of 60.000-100.0000 abandoned houses for demolition
in Denmark alone (The Danish Town Planning Institute, 2014).
This has given unique opportunities for the introduction of full-scale dissection in the
curriculum for first-year students at Aarhus School of Architecture (Figure 1). All workshops
and the research project take place in Thisted Municipality in the North Western, which
contains several small communities in varied stages of depopulation.
Figure 1. Students work, single-family house, Snedsted, 2014, work in progress; the horizontal intervention is
visible on the left, whereas the cross section is visible on the right.
Workshop design
The overall design was common to all of the four workshops, but was continuously
improved. All workshops extended over a period at five to six weeks. They were divided into
four phases: Introduction, iteration, dissection and reconstruction. The article focuses on the
dissection and reconstruction phase, but to give a better understanding of the context, all four
phases are briefly introduced.

4
Phase 1: Introduction
The opening lecture started with an introduction to the section as a tool for professional
investigation and communication of the structure of a building. To facilitate students
understanding of the section as a generic principle, the lecture drew parallels between the
section as a professional tool in architecture, design and engineering and dissection in the
world of medicine. The latter was illustrated with the baroque dissection theatre of the 17
th
century, because the upcoming public full-scale dissection of a building has several features
in common with the dissection theatre in the sense that concealed scale, materiality and
spatiality are exposed in front of an audience. Demolition processes from the built
environment exemplified the rare opportunities for professional real life experience of
sections at building scale, where full-scale sections occasionally occur as temporary
phenomena.
Besides exposing structures and materials, the dissection has the potential to reveal
the history and evolution of the building. The full-scale section can reveal a buildings private
history through stratification of the built layers. However, the section must be undertaken in
respect to the laws of structure. Therefore, the workshop included a number of smaller sub-
investigations in which the impact on structural and material matters was less critical. These
sub-investigations, called ‘probes of investigations’, could display the material history of the
building, e.g. layers of paint, wallpaper or flooring, were uncovered with surgical precision.
Many of the probes of investigation took the form of plots such as work plans, drawings and
description of procedures. Other probes included physical toolboxes designed to be used in
both the investigation and reconstruction phase.
The opening lecture illustrated the learning potential of these smaller investigations
by cut-outs from ice core drilling. Similar to the revealed layers in a building, the layers of an

Citations
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Journal ArticleDOI
28 Jun 2016
TL;DR: The aim of this book is to show what actually happens when schools start out to put into practice each in its own way, the effects of applications arise from new educational ideas and the direction and meaning that education seems to be taking at present time.
Abstract: Education reformist and philosopher John Dewey has stated that the ultimate aim of writing “School’s of Tomorrow” is not an attempt to develop a complete theory of education nor yet review any systems or discuss the views of prominent educators.This is not a text book of education nor yet an exposition of a new method of school teaching, aims to show the weary teacher or the discontented parent how education should be carried on. The aim of this book is to show what actually happens when schools start out to put into practice each in its own way, the effects of applications arise from new educational ideas and the direction and meaning that education seems to be taking at present time. The most important point that should be taken into consideration in the book “School’s of Tomorrow” which was written by John Dewey a century ago in 1915, is that Are the schools at present educational system in 2016 able to provide educational application and practices mentioned in the book? In the book it is asserted that education is the result of natural growth and it gives much importance and consistent with basic educational principles such as personal liberties and individuality. In addition; the role of education in social development and supplying local needs are the two important current topics discussed in educational system makes the book ultimately notable. Anoter important issue emphasized in the book is guiding to constitute democracy tradition in education. The book is useful source for the educators, parents and pupils.

48 citations


References
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Abstract: The laboratory has been given a central and distinctive role in science education, and science educators have suggested that there are rich benefits in learning from using laboratory activities. At this time, however, some educators have begun to question seriously the effectiveness and the role of laboratory work, and the case for laboratory teaching is not as self-evident as it once seemed. This paper provides perspectives on these issues through a review of the history, goals, and research findings regarding the laboratory as a medium of instruction in introductory science teaching. The analysis of research culminates with suggestions for researchers who are working to clarify the role of the laboratory in science education.

818 citations


Book
29 Jan 2010
Abstract: The word ‘project’ is perhaps the latest arrival to knock for admittance at the door of educational terminology. Shall we admit the stranger? Not wisely unless two preliminary questions have first been answered in the affirmative: First, is there behind the proposed term and waiting even now to be christened a valid notion or concept which promises to render appreciable service in educational thinking? Second, if we grant the foregoing, does the term “project” fitly designate the waiting concept? Because the question as to the concept and its worth is so much more significant than any matter of mere names, this discussion will deal almost exclusively with the first of the two inquiries. It is indeed entirely possible that some other term, as ‘purposeful act’, for example, would call attention to a more important element in the concept, and, if so, might prove superior as a term to the word ‘project’. At the outset it is probably wise to caution the reader against expecting any great amount of novelty in the idea here presented. The metaphor of christening is not to be taken too seriously; the concept to be considered is not in fact newly born. Not a few readers will be disappointed that after all so little new is presented.

136 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
28 Jun 2016
TL;DR: The aim of this book is to show what actually happens when schools start out to put into practice each in its own way, the effects of applications arise from new educational ideas and the direction and meaning that education seems to be taking at present time.
Abstract: Education reformist and philosopher John Dewey has stated that the ultimate aim of writing “School’s of Tomorrow” is not an attempt to develop a complete theory of education nor yet review any systems or discuss the views of prominent educators.This is not a text book of education nor yet an exposition of a new method of school teaching, aims to show the weary teacher or the discontented parent how education should be carried on. The aim of this book is to show what actually happens when schools start out to put into practice each in its own way, the effects of applications arise from new educational ideas and the direction and meaning that education seems to be taking at present time. The most important point that should be taken into consideration in the book “School’s of Tomorrow” which was written by John Dewey a century ago in 1915, is that Are the schools at present educational system in 2016 able to provide educational application and practices mentioned in the book? In the book it is asserted that education is the result of natural growth and it gives much importance and consistent with basic educational principles such as personal liberties and individuality. In addition; the role of education in social development and supplying local needs are the two important current topics discussed in educational system makes the book ultimately notable. Anoter important issue emphasized in the book is guiding to constitute democracy tradition in education. The book is useful source for the educators, parents and pupils.

48 citations



01 Oct 2003
Abstract: Introduction: the ruin and the aestheticisation of politicsThis paper seeks to explore some of the theoretical implications of the ruin as it emergedcontemporaneously, but in very different guises, in the work of Walter Benjamin and AlbertSpeer. In Speer’s ‘Theory of Ruin Value’, the aesthetic fragmentation he imagines in the futureruins of his buildings is belied by their continuing ideological totality. Conversely, in the contextof Benjamin’s philosophy of history the ruin provides an emblem, not only of the melancholicworldview presented in Baroque tragic drama, but of allegory as a critical tool for historicalmaterialism. Benjamin’s concept of the ruin, especially as adumbrated in his book The Origin ofGerman Tragic Drama, is valuable because it delves beyond the aesthetic of the ruin as anobject, and reads it as a process, a means of demythifying and stripping away symbolism - ameans of approaching historical truth through reduction, at the expense of romantic aesthetics.For Speer the ruin provides an established conduit to aesthetic affect, a means of adding oraccumulating ‘age value’ not in pursuit of historical truth, but rather a mythological history,supported and authorised by the ruin’s picturesque aesthetic.

21 citations


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This article reports on a series of four workshops, held in the spring semesters from 2011 to 2014 for first-year students at Aarhus School of Architecture. The aim was to provide firstyear students with an experience of the relation between the section as a diagrammatic representation and the materiality, structure and spatial relations of a concrete building. As the authors shall see, the workshops fulfilled not only the intended learning goals, but created an initially unforeseen and unique context for learning about the relations between building and place and introduced the question regarding depopulation of rural areas as a pertinent processional challenge. Beyond an educational value, the research project ‘ Transformation on abandonment, a new critical practice ? ’ transpired from the workshops. This research project and the interplay between teaching and research are discussed in the last part of the article.