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Architectural Conservation: The Great Acceleration

Photo: Sune Sundahl, ArkDes samlingar. 1988-111-17498

Can architectural tradition and conservation provide clues to sustainable societal development?

The age following WW2 is often called the Great Acceleration, during which our social and economic welfare was amassed. Large swathes of the population were given the opportunity to find housing of decent standards, holiday homes and sports facilities. There were investments in schools, healthcare clinics and new infrastructures. New materials were engineered, construction methods rapidly developed and most of the existing building stock came to be. This is the age when the statistical curves for economic growth, extraction of natural resources and the metrics of welfare and all point sharply upwards. 

The consequence of a steady demand-led growth has been a resource shortfall. Biodiversity in decline, climate change and pollution on the rise are among the quantifiable factors; ill health, marginalization and segregation among the sociocultural factors.

Urban densification can rapidly alter familiar city environments. Buildings dating from the 1960s and later stand at risk for demolition, local cultural heritage environments for extinction. The pace of property development is so rapid that it is difficult to maintain an objective distance to the history, integrity and worth of neighborhoods. Research shows that physical environments substantialize both collective and individual memories, a crucial precondition for cultural identity and belonging. Insofar as sustainable societal development integrates sociocultural values, an appreciation of existing environments and building stocks becomes central.

Can the analytical methods of architectural conservation promote understanding of the importance of cultural diversity and local building traditions? And can they also ensure a sustainable societal development founded on a continuum of time, space and culture?

Course Information

The course Architectural Conservation is a one-year, advanced-level program. It provides cutting-edge expertise to professionals in the fields of architecture and building environments. The topic of restoration is approached holistically, as the course examines architectural heritage as a resource and engine for sustainable societal development: that is, architectural conservation as the art of change without maltreatment.

The course is project based and multidisciplinary, in order to stimulate active discussion and knowledge exchange among various professional categories. It is aimed at architects, spatial planners, landscape architects, interior architects, antiquarians, journalists, civil engineers, project managers, cultural geographers and others. The basic requirement is a master’s degree in architecture or an affiliated field, as listed above, and at least one year of relevant professional experience.  Applicants with other training and qualifications in combination with professional experience in the field can apply via prior learning.

Course content

The course content addresses conservation history and ideology, surveying and inventory, cultural-historical valuation, and more. Traditional materials and construction and craft methods are investigated in relation to today’s demands for sustainability and resource management.  Project work, both individual and in teams, is linked to this year’s theme and course periods, and the year terminates in a publication and/or exhibition. Instructional approaches include lectures, study visits, seminars, workshops and excursions.

The course includes a number of guest lecturers and critics specializing in the respective areas. Head instructors are Professor Lone-Pia Bach and Associate Professor Cecilia Sagrén.

Course framework

The course comprises 60 credits (hp) and requires full-time studies. The scheduled portions are bunched into five course periods of three weeks each and one scheduled weekend. Study assignments are given between the course periods, during which participants are free to organize their own time. Some course elements may be in English.

The course includes one or more excursions, with travel by boat or train. Students contribute towards the cost of transport and accommodation with up to SEK 6 500 per semester, or SEK 13 000 in total. Students who cannot take part in an excursion are given alternative assignements. 

Certain course elements may be conducted along with the high-level course ”Katalysator 2021–22”.

Application process

  • The application process is digital via the application link, and requires a CV, motivation letter, degree certificate and 2–3 relevant work samples (project, essay or equivalent).
  • Applications close: 15 april 2021.
  • Interviews with applicants may also apply.
  • Around twenty students will be admitted to the course. 
  • Contact: Associate Professor Cecilia Sagrén,