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Catalyst – Architectural conservation from object to process

Photo: Sune Sundahl, ArkDes samlingar. 1988-111-19231

Continuation course for those who have completed the course Architectural Conservation.

Towards a broader understanding of the field of architectural conservation.

An in-depth investigation of the methods of architectural conservation applied to sustainable societal development.

Does the transition to a sustainable societal structuring have consequences for architectural conservation? Or can the methods of conservation act as a catalyst for new perspectives in our social dialogue? Neuroscientist Michael Gazzaniga’s research shows that history lends significance to the present moment. Similarly, conservation has preserved through the years the material traces of history that have been embodied in architecture.

Architectural conservation has a long tradition of discussing, revising and elaborating its methodologies for integrating contemporary issues into its context. Previously, the focus was largely on protecting monuments and environments selected by antiquarian societies. In recent years, a broader, more inclusive approach has emerged. This development can be seen as a culturally and socially engaged process through which greater numbers can be involved in defining their cultural heritage.

A building is a testament to the past, linking us with previous generations through an image of permanence and stability. It helps in understanding our present age and endows it with meaning. As the very framework for social interaction, architecture creates a sense of belonging to a place and an affinity with others, and thereby bolsters identity.  

From this perspective, the adaptive reuse of buildings and neighborhoods should be an indisputable piece of the puzzle of sustainable societal structuring. The tendency at present, however, is to view transition through new construction—with existing buildings supplying the materials for recycling. Are we as a society then ignoring the low-hanging fruit? And if so, why? 

You who have completed the course Architectural Conservation now have the opportunity to expand your competence through studying the methods of architectural conservation. Our ambition is to act as catalyst for a social dialogue towards new perspectives.

Course content

The aim of the course is for participants, through immersing themselves in a chosen subject, to develop a specific competence that benefits their own professional practice, thereby contributing new knowledge to the field of conservation. The praxis and methodology of conservation is approached through its theory, which will enable you to develop up-to-date processes for the preservation and transformation of our architechtural heritage. Combining theory with case studies, we will investigate aspects such as national and international references; conservation theory and analysis; materials and construction methods; design and conservation processes; and the role of architectural heritage in sustainable societal development. 

The course requires familiarity with the foundations of research writing, with a focus on reflection and communication.

Course framework

The course comprises 30 credits and requires half-time studies over the course of a school year. Scheduled classroom time is a total of 4 weeks, while independent study is conducted throughout the school year.

The course is conducted through independent studies with support of individual supervision, and concludes with a written paper. Instructional approaches include individual study, lectures, theoretical study, research paper structuring and study visits. 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 7 000. Students who cannot take part in an excursion are given alternative assignments. 

Certain course elements may be conducted along with the course Architectural conservation, 60 credits, whose theme-specific lectures will be open to you.

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

Application process

  • Applicants shall have completed the prerequisite course Architectural Conservation at the Royal Institute of Art. 
  • The application process is digital via the application link, and requires a CV, cover letter, problem statement outining the specific focus of the applicant within the theme of the course, and a process description of the study.
  • Applications close: 15 april 2021.
  • Interviews with applicants may also apply.
  • Six students will be admitted to the course.
  • Contact: Associate Professor Cecilia Sagrén,