Best practices Repository

Urban Lab Design Agency – What are the politics of your design & What is the design of your politics?

School: Iceland University of the Arts

Year of Studies: Second year in Architecture

Duration: 15 weeks

Authors: Massimo Santanicchia, Aðalheiður Atladóttir & Falk Krüger


Course Description: 

The design studio explores and applies the concept of cosmopolitan citizenship in architecture design. Cosmopolitan Citizenship Architecture Education CCAE is the practice of architecture where the primary motivation is to care for Others, for social and ecological justice. The design process is therefore intended as a social practice used for “being together in co-creative partnership with the Earth”1 and ultimately shift design culture from authorship to collaborative agency. Becoming cosmopolitan citizen architects means learning to make ethical design decisions to include the Others, future generations, earthlings, un-represented and suppressed voices, into the design process. A powerful architect therefore is a powerful cosmopolitan citizen, a person that is aware of the connectedness of everything and of the specificity of each location. We are all different and yet related! Education for cosmopolitan citizenship is fundamental to facing the problems of the world because citizenship is about caring for the common good.

Students’ project title: Jónskirja (John’s Church)

Students: Helena Ósk Óskarsdóttir


Description (200 words):

Jónskirkja is a church and cultural centre located in Höfði an industrial neighbourhood of Reykjavik, capital of Iceland. Höfði is currently under transformation as 15,000 residential units are planned over the next 10 years. Jónskirkja will inhabit an old factory, a grand industrial structure destined to be demolished under the current master plan. The goal of the project is to give a new life to the structure, to design an harmonious space where people and nature can meet. The inspiration comes from a story written by Iceland most famous writer Nobel Prize winner Halldór Laxness who in the short novel “Christianity Under the Glacier” a pastor called Jón Prímus said that Snæfells-glacier was his church, and nature his gospel. Based on this hymn to nature the project blurs indoor and outdoor spaces, merging rocks and water to form a new landscape where the cliff becomes the building, and the building becomes the cliff. The church is meant to care for all earthlings, religious and secular people and most importantly animals. The church site offers a place to connect to nature, to be in silence, to admire the seasons and above all it will have a respect for nature.