AA VISITING SCHOOL LYNGØR – The Island ReaderProfile
by Amandine Kastler and Erlend Skjeseth, Directors of AAVS Lyngør
01 July 2015
Lyngør Island, Norway
The AA Visiting School Lyngør takes place on an island off the southern tip of Norway. Once a nineteenth-century international hub for merchant vessels and their navigators, Lyngør is now a quiet village of around 80 inhabitants. A rocky outcrop in the North Sea, Lyngør Island is challenging to domesticate. An intriguing formal language has developed out of the necessity to straddle such arduous terrain. As a result, building and landscape are interlocked, creating an imaginative range of spatial and material compositions. Over centuries, houses have huddled together to shelter one another from the chilling winds, thunderous waves and white light. From this, Lyngør has evolved into a richly textured vernacular tapestry. Houses were built from materials salvaged from those in decay or out of fashion. Timber was cannibalised, foundations relaid – residues of the past can be read in every surface.
Aerial view of Lyngør Island
The programme develops the role of the architect as one not only focused on ‘the new’ but on meaningfully responding to the existing. Students will study the relationship between historical precedent and proposed architectural interventions, looking at Lyngør’s distinct built environment as it battles with changing social, environmental, political and cultural currents. The workshop explores key threads of Nordic architecture, as well as those of a small island community.
The Sextant invented by Tycho Brahe to measure the distance between stars.
Embedded within the Norwegian psyche is the compulsion to inhabit the natural landscape. Architecture is moulded by a climate that forces clear boundaries between inside and outside. Students will explore these tensions in the work of modern Scandinavian architects and the vernacular of Lyngør Island.
At the outset of the workshop, students will be introduced to strands of Norwegian culture through discussions with contemporary artists, local craftsmen, builders, educators, historians and architects. Excursions will take students to see a range of Norway’s architectural heritage from Stave churches to the poetic modernism of Sverre Fehn.
A Master Surveyor reading his surroundings
Once settled in Lyngør, students will engage with the survey as a key tool of the architect. Surveying allows the quantification and measurement of the world around us, enabling architectural intervention. Adopting the role of archaeologists, anthropologists, editors, and architects, students will develop their own readings of the physical, social, historical and topographical aspects of island life. They will be challenged to record history and memory as well as space and construction. An introduction will be given to the history of instrumentation for the navigation of sea and land, drawing inspiration from tools such as the astrolabe, the telescope and the compass. Learning from traditional techniques of measurement and cartography, students will design ways of quantifying and representing the island through the invention of their own instruments and tools.
Galileo’s Surveying Compass; initially invented to accurately aim cannonballs, subsequently used for land surveying
The subjective gaze of the individual shapes the way in which we measure, and defines what we choose to record. Lyngør Island is the microcosm from which students will conduct their readings. The culmination of this year’s Visiting School will be the compilation of the students’ work into an Island Reader – a multivalent encapsulation of the island.
The Island Reader will capture networks that define human inhabitation on the island. Through the selective process of observing and recording, we will produce a collection of scenes that inherently propose speculative narratives. Students will work individually and in teams to uncover the hidden layers of the island. Topics of investigation will include territorial demarcations, relationships and memory, rights of way and view, systems of utility and services, providence of materials, street-scapes, interiors and the exterior. Students will record and transcribe their observations through drawings, photographs and models – oscillating between observing, documenting, and interpreting. The selection of subjects describe the island as the sum of its parts – an edit of scenes which when taken together constitute The Island Reader.
For more information:
AAVS Lyngør will take place from 11–29 August 2015. We are still accepting applications; explorers from around the world please come and join us for this unique experience. The programme is open to participants from a range of backgrounds, including current architecture and art students, phd candidates and young professionals.
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Please contact us with thoughts, ideas or for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org