A Building Connecting Separated Communities

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperResearch


Producing something for general use involves the designers' anticipation of the use of the object. Personal as well as professional experience is involved in the design anticipations of the process. Using an object means exploring it as a concrete arrangement for our everyday conduct of life. Living in a house means staying in a place, formed by experiences and anticipations of different ways of living, of social regulations of who can be where, and used for varied concrete purposes. Professionals in the construction business build houses for living, for working, for events etc. in no systematic sequence. This, among other things, separates design and use, which is worth investigating in order to understand the problems involved in connecting the design of a house and analyzing the experience of a user.
We undertook a preliminary investigation of how a dormitory for visiting students from abroad was constructed by different professional groups architects/engineers/craft persons, and how it was used by some groupings of students.
In the beginning of the construction process our interviews with the architects revealed that the architect designing the house collaborated with an architect at the university. At meetings they arranged the house as a place with opportunities for activities based on their student experience living in dormitories some years ago. From these discussions they got a general idea of what was needed, the kitchens had to be large to make people get together there, and the hallways had to accomodate for people to stop up and talk together. Washing machines were set-up in locations behind the kitchens with no doors between them, the idea being that you could enter the kitchen and socialize while the machine washed. To accomodate for present developments cables for internet and hot-spots were provided in the walls.
When doing an interview after the house was finished a foreign student told us how there were locations giving opportunities for contact and socializing. Arriving at the beginning of the semester it was common to go through the hallways with videos and inviting other inmates to see it, or to enter the kitchen and make food with others there in order to get contact. The hotspots made it possible for inmates to invite other students with whom they were doing project work to come and work at the house. The large kitchens were opportunities for partying with students from other dormitories, and connect with the Danes from other sections of the building isolating themselves. The janitor was surprised at the supposed function of the washing machines. Since other dormitories at the campus did not provide washing machines, the ones at the house investigated were in constant use, overloaded and noisy, making people stay away from the kitchen.
With point of departure in this case, the nature of the spatial arrangements for the daily conduct of life are sketched out. The kitchen, hallways, washing machines and hotspots will be discussed as arrangements for accidental contacts growing into possible friendships. Furthermore we will discuss how visits, like ours, to dormitories can be a basis for picking up experiences with such dormitories for design purposes.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2008
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 2008
EventEcologies of Diversities - San Diego, United States
Duration: 8 Sept 200813 Sept 2008


ConferenceEcologies of Diversities
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Diego


  • Design
  • Use
  • Praxis
  • Learning
  • Place and Time

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