his opening speech

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his opening speech

possibility to give some activities priority above others. To put into action what shouldbe obvious to all academics at AHO, the fact that a small academic environment like ourshas to make some strategically based decisions on what kind of research activities theschool should put its resources into. AHO is, viewed in the context of other Europeanschools of Architecture, no novice in academic research in Architecture. Our doctoralschool has been running for 20 years, with 40 to 50 doctoral students being part of it atany time. Some singular professors have developed their own research to aninternationally high standard within the framework of the school.But AHO has to a very little degree been able to build sustainable researchenvironments. This is what we try to achieve by establishing Oslo Centre of CriticalArchitectural Studies, the Centre for design Research and now CAT.What you should select to do is dependant of your own capacities and resources. AHOsresources in this respect are that we represent a strong and vital building tradition, thatwe also economically speaking have resources to act in a strategic manner, and mostimportant – we are able to recruit people with research potential and ambitions. One ofthe people behind the idea of CAT is Børre Skodvin. An internationally distinguishedarchitect as most of you will know, but also a lover of popular science. This winter he hasbeen following the series “History of Science” on Norwegian television – NRK 2, andillustrates some ambitious ideas behind CAT by referring to highlights in scientifichistory. Like the public dissections of human bodies starting in Padova in the late 16 thcentury. Building a 45 degree steep anatomical theatre around it – like a Roman theatre– for all students to take part in the discoveries being made inside the human body.Later on these students spread all over Europe and in a nearly revolutionary waytransforming the practice of medicine. The University in Padova also provides anotherinteresting analogy. Around year 1600 Galileo Galilei taught at the university andinspired by the Dutch “spyglass” developed the first telescope making it possible toprove Copernican theory and thereby opening a word out there. Interestingly the Galileiachievements are based on two rather different pillars: Observation combined withlogical academic thinking and at the same time the potentials of creative handicrafttraditions and skills to produce the glass lenses and construct the telescope for use inastronomical observation.


We therefore should discuss “tectonics” from another angle to justify the naming.The Oslo School of Architecture has always put a lot of weight into the teaching ofconstruction to students of architecture. We use a lot of our budget in the running ofwork-shops and encourage scale and even full-scale modelling. Professor BjørnSandaker is one of the main resources in CAT doing his research work on architecturalconstruction. Another resource is the director of CAT Professor Michael Hensel, more orless head-hunted for developing this research centre. Michael Hensel is a pupil of FreiOtto, inspired by his experiments in construction, and explores in his research more orless hidden architectural potentials in different materials also by advanced computertechnology.In fact AHO is using a very common understanding of the concept of tectonics inthis name. Not the most urgently used understanding at the moment – meaning thestructure and behaviour of the seemingly increasingly moving earth’s crust, but thecommon understanding in architectural history: The art and science of construction orbuilding.We also know from experience, especially from the last decade, that the digitaltools can make the structural play of forces operational in practical building and thatthis technological achievement can strengthen the bonds between experimentalresearch, design, construction and even building production. The technical possibilitiesgive a new flavour to the discussion of tectonics.“Scientific Discovery is not far away from the smell of money” – Another quotefrom the series “History of Science”, and for sure AHO by establishing CAT is trying tostrengthen contact with architectural practise and the building production industries –where the money are. But never forget that our main intention is to refresh the scope ofour research activities, establish a link between academic research and the creativepractices of Norwegian architecture and thereby make some positive difference in theproduction of environment.Oslo 29.4.2011Karl Otto Ellefsen, Rektor AHO

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