ARCH: elements of architecture for the confinement


The COVID-19 crisis has obliged us to rethink the evolution of our models of architecture, our squares and streets, our homes and other typologies of buildings. Our entire cities are being judged due to new relationships within society.
Under these novel circumstances we have listened to more experts from different disciplines to give their opinions about necessary changes in architecture than to architects themselves. During the last months, epidemiologists, economists, politicians, anthropologists, sociologists, scientists, policemen, reporters or general citizens from all over the world have been the real spokesmen for new architecture. Without a doubt, it is time to question the single authorship of the future of Architecture: more than ever, as a discipline, it cannot continue being taught alone, nor on a local level.
From the architect’s point of view, all of us we have also being secluded in our architecture. The confinement that forced many of us to be at home has encouraged to reduce the speed of our fast life and reflect on our social-political engagement within this new reality. This period has been a real impulse to assume those commitments and transform them into architecture, opening new ways of working and collaborating with other colleagues and disciplines internationally, something that just some months before would have been rather arduous.
A direct example, in terms of the pedagogy of architecture, is our ambitious project “UNIVERSITY of Universities”. Although this exchange of workshops was technically possible before, it is only now when it became a reality.



Rem Koolhaas directed the exhibition “Elements of Architecture” at the 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale. It consisted of a massive recollection of information about the evolution of selected fragments of building details of architecture:


Here you can find more information on the catalogue of this exhibition:

The aim of our workshop is to complete that book. We consider that this research on historical evolution of elements from early times to the end of the 20th century, directed by Koolhaas, calls now for an additional reading. Foreseeing new confinements, our society starts to ask for therapeutic qualities of these same elements. And we believe that this will be the result of an international collaborative work between architects and other disciplines.



To achieve this, the participants in the workshop will be organized in groups of 6 members, each one from a different school of architecture.
Every group will choose one of the elements listed above to develop during this workshop for confinement.
Since each member belongs to a different culture, the task consists of collaborating with an expert from a different discipline than architecture and to compare the diverse applications in your particular realities.

1 st day: Individual introduction / each student chooses an element and produces a document (free technique: video, drawing, model…) that speaks about him/her or the way it inspires him/her (memories, interests, reflexions…). After his/her personal presentation, we will arrange the groups by affinities and interdisciplinary collaborations.

2 nd day: Group proposal / produce a conceptual image that contains the new interdisciplinary qualities that your element of architecture should adopt due to a future confinement and apply it to the work developed in the former UOU Workshops.

3 rd day: Final Crit of the precise constructive details of group’s Therapeutic Elements of Architecture.


SCHEDULE / 2-Week Workshop. Weekly 4-hour class arranged with the students:

Introduction / 30-04 Dec 2020.
Development / 07-10 Dec 2020.
Lecture: Architecture can heal, by Francisco Colom and Ana Fernández Martínez (MASS design group).
Final Crit / 11 Dec 2020.



Develop these actions:

– Finding opportunities of Interdisciplinary relationships to start a project.
– Describing the differences when dealing with different cultures.
– Finishing with a precise building detail of an element that defines Therapeutic Architecture.


Bibliography /

Sacks, Oliver. (1995). An anthropologist on Mars: Seven paradoxical tales (1st ed). Knopf.


UOU _ ws6


Alicante University (SPAIN) /

Joaquín Alvado Bañón (

Javier Sánchez Merina (