Architecture in the Making
Architecture as a Making Discipline
and Material Practice

Architectural Assemblages, Tectonics, and Material Practices

Nilsson, Fredrik

Project Contact:
Project Type: Research Project
Project Period:


The discussions on architectural tectonics have been growing during the last decades, not least in relation to the development of digital technologies and their use in architectural design. There has during the same period been increasing interest for materiality, structure and physical construction of space and objects, which gave notions of a “structural turn” or “tectonic turn” within architecture as well as a “material turn” within other disciplines. The practical work and concrete making of the material world and built environments have come more into focus.
Several central notions and concepts in architecture are in need of elaboration in the contemporary situation. Several theoretical frameworks developed in disciplines adjacent to architecture relate to materiality, objects, assemblages, expression, and performance, and are therefor of great interest for design as well. In architecture, several conceptual frameworks have been developed, where some use the potential to articulate notions close to architectural practice but in a fruitful exchange with more theoretical perspectives.

This project will critically inquire some of the discussions and theoretical frameworks with relation to the built environment that during last decades have developed especially around tectonics and digital architecture. The study draws from recent debates around assemblage theory, materialism and post-humanist theory and will in dialogue with the above theoretical frameworks discuss the changing notions of tectonics and materiality in the buildings and designs as well as written work of architectural and engineering practices.

The project argues for the importance of conceptual elaboration, but do also stress issues of architectural knowledge and articulation of concepts central for architecture as a “making discipline” and “material practice”. Here are concepts relating to tectonics and materiality central. The aim of the project is to contribute to the critical understanding and further development of central concepts and tectonic theories in contemporary architecture.


"Fredrik Nilsson, architect SAR/MSA, PhD, Professor of Architectural Theory at Chalmers University of Technology, and Partner and Head of Research and Development at White Arkitekter AB. He was senior professor at Sint-Lucas School of Architecture, Brussels, during 2007-2009, and has taught and lectured at several schools for architecture and design in the Nordic countries.
His research has mainly been directed to contemporary architecture, architectural theory and the relation to philosophy. Concerned with issues on how knowledge is generated and used within architectural work, his research has focused on architectural knowledge, design theory and theory of science in relation to architectural research and practice as well as the implications of technology for the interaction between conceptual thinking, practical design work and production of architecture.
Nilsson is board member of OCEAN Design Research Association, board member of ResArc – The Swedish Research School in Architecture, board member of Bygginnovationen (The Swedish Building Innovation), and on the editorial board of Nordic Journal of Architecture. Previously he has among other things been member of the committee for Artistic research and development for the Swedish Research Council, member of the board for Swedish Construction Sector Innovation Centre, member of the Research Committee for Swedish Centre for Innovation and Quality in the Built Environment, and on the board for the Nordic Association of Architectural Research. Fredrik is author and editor of several books and frequently publishes articles, architectural criticism and reviews of books."


BibBase nilsson, f
generated by
  2013 (1)
Architectural assemblages and materializations - Changing notions of tectonics and materiality in contemporary architecture [Elektronisk resurs]. Nilsson, F. In Structures and Architecture. Concepts, Applications and Challenges, volume s. 408-416. Structures and Architecture. Concepts, Applications and Challenges, 2013.
Architectural assemblages and materializations - Changing notions of tectonics and materiality in contemporary architecture [Elektronisk resurs] [pdf]Paper   link   bibtex   abstract  

As part of both the development of the environment and as a means to communicate our activities some of the lectures and seminars arranged are available online. Visit our Youtube-channel here.