University of Bad Ideas — Concepts for the Future of Architectural Education

Now that the end of history has officially come to an end, we turn our attention to planning for a future that will always defy our expectations. Not that there will be no future, but that it will be a disintegrated collection of futures, futures that will have changed the way we experience places and events. Although we are architects, we choose not to ask what these places and events might be. Instead, we are choosing to investigate the present-day spaces in which these futures are currently being formulated: the architectural university.


We propose to turn the Oslo Architectural Triennale into a period for the production of alternative educational experiments, a period of public debate over new approaches to architectural training, and of interdisciplinary engagement. We propose to re-imagine the period between now and the closing of the 2016 Oslo Architecture Triennale as a university with a two year life-span, devoted to exploring the value-systems that formulate architecture’s future. What practices should be evolved as part of these processes — what theories must be developed? What possible university could be imagined — what pedagogical values could be discussed — assuming that the ubiquitous educational values of today are not the ones?

To rethink these values would mean to rethink the fundamental metaphysics that underwrite both the university as well as architecture’s past attempts to approximate futures: both education and architecture have historically presupposed themselves as inherently good for the future. But what if our prevalent ideas of the good were actually contributing to a bad present? And what if a bad idea was able to build a good future?

We know that the substitution of good for bad has historically been a quintessential move of the 20th century architectural avant-garde. However, we choose not to explore bad forms in the well-worn hope that they might be proved good, but instead to understand the bad idea’s role in constructing the future’s value-systems. We propose the founding of an architectural institution devoted to exploring both the pedagogical and topical constructs that delineate the contemporary possibilities of a bad idea. This university will be referred to henceforth as the University of Bad Ideas (UBI).

The University of Bad Ideas (UBI) will work beyond comfortable critique. It will collapse norms into crimes, masters into mice. It will be a half-project that is never going to be completed, as it ends before it could have actually started. The University of Bad Ideas is already broken – it is a staged-breakdown. In the end, the University of Bad Ideas (UBI) does not want to double the university with a minus sign, instead it aims at showing how we regard any alternative as a failure already.

University of Bad Ideas is a proposal for Oslo Architecture Triennale.
[More information to be published soon…]

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