ARCH: sharing the voids. reuse and reactivation in architecture

CONTENT / In his book Construire autrement in 2006, the builders, architect, artist, planner (…) Patrick Bouchain  reflects on alternative way of building societies: “I believe in temporariness and mobility of things, in exchange.  And I work in order to create, in architecture, a situation in which construction could be achieved in another way  and could produce unexpectedness, and thus enchantment. Construire autrement is using ideas that I  experienced/experimented [same word in French] with a lot of delight and then kept from a construction site to  another in order to reach this goal: building within the context, knowing the rule, not acting but transforming,  doing the least as possible in order to give as much as possible, involving everyone, interpreting, giving some  time, transmitting, never doing the same thing…” 

The phenomena global development and the current urban condition of our cities, induce to think about a  different possible way of intervening on abandoned and empty spaces. This matter has alerted public awareness and produced a debate in which we are all involved as architect and urban designers. Thinking about the city as  a place of experimentation in which citizens primarily, politicians, investors, public administrators and technicians are working together to contribute and to improve the quality conditions of life for the cities, means  to design more open and flexible cities, improving our tools and references, towards a more sustainable future. Starting from these considerations, the workshop aims at identifying different points of view on the role of the  architects and planners in the contemporary city, starting from an alternative way of “building”. 

Starting from the experience of the Workshop held in October 2020 (ARCH EU1s 2020-21) with students  participating from 6 different universities: Umeå University, School of Architecture; Malmö University, Urban  Studies; Alicante University, School of Architecture; University of Nicosia, Department of Architecture; University  Ion Mincu of Bucharest, Department of Architecture; University of Bristol, School of Architecture; about the  Architecture as the art of building communities; we have learned that in the current pandemic situation we have  an opportunity that can bring us beyond the trans-national/scalar/disciplinary boards learning from the local  context, culture and society, and going beyond languages, national regulations. We built an ATLAS of more than 

200 “infinite places” as possible places for a future intervention, sharing and reflecting on the potential of each  of this places in 6 countries in Europe. 

AIMS /  

  • To unpack the ATLAS, considering the experience of the places. 
  • To find opportunities in neglected and forgotten area/buildings. 
  • To identify a potential place, from the existing ATLAS, as context of experimentation and work with the  imagination in defining new rules for a collective “Imaginary Place” as a different idea for a trans national/scalar/disciplinary community. Sharing the voids, sharing the experiences, and the notion of  “occupation” and transformation.  
  • To learn how to contribute to group work and exchange as a small experiment for a learning society. To  think about installation to be tested in scale 1:1.  
  • To improve the ability of working in an international team using online teaching as an opportunity. To learn about new techniques for communicating the projects through digital curation. To find opportunities of Interdisciplinary relationships starting from a “common” project.


Research and investigate through case studies, speculate through the common sharing of knowledge.  Positioning yourself as an architect producing a visual manifesto.  

The students will work in groups from the 6 different universities, on a project of transformation, thinking  about the short/mid/long term prevision, exchanging knowledge as a small experiment for a learning society, using as a starting point the ATLAS produced during the WS 2 / UOU ARCH EU2s 2020/21. 

Part 1. / Reflecting and Unpacking the ATLAS choosing and unpacking three of the proposed Infinite Places from  different countries. What is the potential for transformation? What can we learn from the different uses of the  space? How do the community manage the place, what is the role of the architecture? Design the strategy of  intervention sharing the voids, learning from each other, producing and sharing a first draft of a visual manifesto.  

Part 2./ Communicating the idea/strategy through the production of a visual Manifesto to be displayed through  an online exhibition/showcase. 




(Time of Central Europe) 

Expected Learning Outcomes/ 

After these two weeks workshop the student will be able to: 

Apply methods for quantitative and qualitative mapping, through the description of a place in the city. Identify a potential for the reuse or reactivation of an area/building of the city. Learn how to use case studies.  Explain the consequences of various urban development strategies and its relation to architecture and society. Improve communication ability through oral and visual presentations. 

Bibliography / 

  1. BOUCHAIN, Construire Autrement. Comment Faire? Arles : Actes Sud, 2006 
  2. INGHILLERI, Verso un’architettura die beni comuni e dell’identità, in LOTUS n.153, 2014 S.MARINI, G.CORBELLINI, a cura di, Recycled Theory. Dizionario Illustrato/Illustrated Dictionary. Quodlibet, 2016 


Umeå University (Sweden) / Malmö University (Sweden)  

Maria Luna Nobile (

Marie Kraft (