Transitional Territories Studio — 2019-2020 North Sea Landscapes of Coexistence: New Academic Year

Daniel Spoerri
Topographie anécdotée du hasard
1962 | © 2019 Daniel Spoerri / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ProLitteris, Switzerland

Transitional Territories Studio


North Sea: Landscapes of Coexistence.
A Topography of Chance

“The sea was the beginning and the end of everything” 
— Fred D’Aguiar

“Humans cannot live, nor live in security, unless they assume that the active struggle between earth and water is over, or at least contained”
— Gilles Deleuze


Studio Leader Taneha Kuzniecow Bacchin, t.bacchin (at)

Special Guest Professors Dirk Sijmons Han Meyer

Instructors / Mentors Taneha Kuzniecow Bacchin 
Luisa Calabrese
dr. Fransje Hooimeijer
dr. Diego Sepulveda Carmona
dr. Daniele Cannatella
ir. Geert van der Meulen

Guest Mentors
ir. Francesca Rizzetto
ir. Kaveh Dabiri
ir. Jacques Vink

Graduation Sections/ Chairs
Urban Design
Architectural Design Crossovers
Spatial Planning & Strategy
Environmental Modelling
Landscape Architecture



Transitional Territories is an interdisciplinary design studio (MSc. Architecture and MSc. Urbanism tracks in collaboration with Landscape Architecture, Hydraulic Structures & Flood Risk, Policy Analysis) focusing on the notion of territory as a constructed project across scales, subjects and media. In particular, the studio focuses on the agency of design in territories at risk between land and water (maritime, riverine, delta landscapes), and the dialectical (or inseparable) relation between nature and culture.

Informed by Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Spatial Planning & Urban Design theory & research, the studio explores—through design and representation—new pathways of inquiry moving beyond traditional methods and concepts. During the graduation year, students will develop an analytic, critical and conceptual approach to design and learn how to use the project as knowledge producer (Viganò, 2016) by means of cartography, system analysis, phenomenology (of time/ space), narration, process based design, scenario planning and systems thinking (uncertainty). The scale of individual projects can vary from buildings and (infra)structures to entire landscapes and regions. The studio is founded on notions of complexity, territorialism, infrastructure space, (landscape) ecology, environmental risk (extremes), geophilosophy, biopolitics, transition and policy analysis.



For the academic year 2019-2020, starting in September 2019, Transitional Territories Studio closes the three year-long cycle on the North Sea, focusing on the transformation of its territory throughout history and on its future ecology, landscapes, (political, architectural) spaces and flows (resources, logistics and migration). These changes are seen in different levels — from the transcalar and often invisible levels of processes to the scale of the architecture. As territory, the North Sea is understood as both abstract/ dematerialised space (political) and as concrete/ materialised space (architectural), that is, as a socially appropriated space.

After having disclosed, represented and analysed its past, present, and future geography over the past two years, this time the studio will project and delineate a radically different space for the North Sea territory. Inspired by the ‘Topographie Anecdotée du Hasard’ by Daniel Spoerri, the studio will set in motion a conversation between six lines of inquiry for the future of the North Sea region, briefed together with a group of artists, architects, philosophers, policy makers, scientists, and engineers. The final result of such a dialogue is a fluid topography, a fragmented inventory of objects and relations, in constant transformation throughout the year, where every individual project has a specific relational power.

Therefore, in the ‘North Sea: Landscapes of Coexistence, A Topography of Chance Studio’ we will celebrate the coexistence between different claims in the sea, ranging from extractivism, energy, fishery, ecology, logistics and migration to carbon storage and climatic shifts structured into six lines of inquiry. Under this framework, the sea is not seen anymore as an extra-territorial space and a limit to the land, but rather as the central space through which the political, environmental, economic and societal questions could be addressed. In this way any spatial proposition, whether landscape, urban or architectural, would be challenged and revisited through the lens of the sea and its adjacent land, and by designed / desired associations and the agency of each individual project.

Six lines of inquiry:
— ‘The oceanic project’
edge, island state(s), power

— ‘Flux, erasure, terraforming’
inundation, erosion, ice

— ‘A pervasive ecology of flows
energy, fishery, logistics, migration, data

— ‘Capital’
oil / minerals / sand

— ‘The dual nature of externalities’
polluted grounds, salt intrusion, carbon and methane emissions, extreme weather

— ‘Crises of representation’
political divisions, cultural heritage, assemblages and dissonances

Scales and subjects:

Geographic locations:
Land, coastal or sea locations/ cities and specific sites at the North Sea countries  Norway, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, England, Scotland.

The specific project location is of choice/ open to each individual project.

Theater of Combustion, Photography, Michael Hirschbichler. [Imagery collection. TT 2018-2019. MSc. Architecture, Author: Danny Arakji]



















North Sea: Landscapes of Coexistence — A territorial perspective
Historically, the North Sea has been a contested territory. While bordering the mainland Europe it has been often turned into a platform for geopolitical affairs with the UK as well as the Nordic countries. Such strategic role has manifested itself in various military, religious, economic, and social ties and divides, which has consequently made the North Sea a confliction common ground. The ongoing refugee crisis or the Brexit are only very recent examples of such a long history. As a result, the sea is not seen anymore a periphery of Europe but rather a central territory and a point of departure through which the idea of Europe would be defined or challenged. Therefore, in the North Sea: Landscapes of Coexistence Studio we would celebrate these controversial aspects of the sea, not anymore as an extra-territorial space and a limit to the land, but rather as the main point an autonomous entity through which the political, environmental, economic and societal questions could be addressed. In this way any spatial proposition, whether landscape, urban or architectural, would be challenged and revisited through the lens of the North Sea as a referenced territory for new spatial interventions. Students are encouraged to redefine the role of the territory of the sea and particularly its land borders/ coastal cities, addressing the complex, yet not so visible, spatial, juridical, environmental and geopolitical natures of the North Sea.

Studio Assignment

During the graduation year students will be asked to reflect on aspects of spatial morphology (scale, form, structure, performance), landform (geology, altimetry/bathymetry, topography), and the diachrony and diversity of mechanisms (e.g. logistics, energy production, coastal management, migration) re-shaping the North Sea continuously. TT studio individual projects will be sited in different geographic locations (of choice) along the sea’s north, central and south coastlines. Within the scope of the TT studio, students will be able to formulate their fascination and choose their own assignment (design, engineering, policy) which can vary from buildings, constructions and public works to urban areas, landscapes and regions.

Studio Meta-Themes

– Risk and beyond: exploring a projective dimension towards the sea (and/or triggered by the sea), and in the specific context of the North Sea region

– Exploration of the limit: the notion of “limit” as conceptual framework at the base for an explorative design research in the North Sea region

– Water related design as a creative (or, conversely, innovative) form for reimagining Architecture/Urbanism/Landscape Architecture/Water Engineering purpose and their collective character

Studio objectives

  • To develop an innovative didactic exchange among the disciplines of Architecture, Urbanism, Landscape, Water Engineering and Policy Analysis
  • To operate analytical research at the large territorial scale of lowland regions
  • To formulate comprehensive Architecture, Urbanism, Landscape, Engineering and Policy design strategies (considering the different spatial and temporal scales relevant for the design)
  • To elaborate and apply a comprehensive Architecture, Urbanism, Landscape, Water Engineering and Policy Analysis research and innovative design methodologies
  • To prepare students to work/ initiate both research and design projects in design offices and governmental departments

Learning objectives

  • Students will be able to operate analytical research across scale – from, territorial, landscape scales, to architectural, object scales
  • Students specific architectural/urban/landscape/engineering/policy interscalar design task
  • Students will be able to share and integrate knowledge from other disciplines
  • Students will be able to formulate a highly individualised design approach
  • Students will be able to apply innovative design methodologies and creative techniques for their design
  • Students will be able to select and apply comprehensive constructive techniques
  • Students will be able to express and represent their design ideas at appropriate scales through writings, drawings, and physical models

Additional information please visit:
TUDelft Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment – MSc3/4 Studio TT 2019-2020


Example of students work

North Sea: Landscapes of Coexistence Studio 2017-2018
End-of-the-year MSc4 Exhibition Book

North Sea: Landscapes of Coexistence Studio 2018-2019
MSc3 Exhibition (Project – Concept Phase) Book

North Sea: Landscapes of Coexistence Studio 2018-2019
MSc3 Exhibition (Research Phase II) Book ‘Islands—Tides’