UNFAMILIAR FAMILIARITIES. READING CONTEXT is a one-week workshop aiming at understanding the value of the context as a subject composed of several layers to be documented, analysed, and mapped. It focuses on identifying the local and global cultural dimensions that define most contemporary urban environments and challenge architects’ work today. Two practitioners with different backgrounds (international and local) have been invited to run the workshop: Tono Fernández (IDOM, Spain) and Eske Bruun (Kondens, Aarhus).
The sociodemographic reconfiguration of contemporary societies and the geographical relocation of projects have radically transformed the traditional context in which the architect operates. On the one hand, the massive emigration flows have transformed the local context by altering the profile of the user for whom we design spaces; on the other, the internationalisation of professional services allows us to operate in culturally diverse, and in some cases, unknown environments. This new social multiculturalism adds an extra level of complexity to the traditional role of the architect. The development of new methodologies, competencies and skills, both in conceptualisation and management, is essential to ensure the quality of the spaces we project.
Distributed in five people teams, the students analyse a given context –Gellerup, Aarhus- in a three steps process: 1. Hard data collection; 2. Visit and soft data registering; and 3. Data analysis and dynamic mapping. In the first task, each group finds information about the place according to a pre-established category. The second task starts with a visit to the context where the students have to document all the found elements related to the previously investigated category by using different media (sketches, sound recording, photos, videos, interviews, objects gathering…). The last task consists of identifying, discussing and mapping the divergences between the hard data and the soft data obtained from the place. As a result, the original category is to be questioned and its name reformulated into a new one.