Design Studio Staub


Supervisor: Prof. Peter Staub

Assistant: Bianca Boeckle 


The concept of “heterotopia” was developed by Michel Foucault in his text „Of other Spaces“[1]. Unlike utopia, which means a placement without a real place and thus refers to unreal space, Foucault defines heterotopia as a real and, above all, effective place, a realised utopia so to say. Heterotopias turn places into mutable spaces. Heterotopia is capable of juxtaposing, montaging several spaces in a single real place, thus combining several sites that are in themselves incompatible.


This semester Studio Staub / Böckle will design new concepts for the University of Liechtenstein’s campus. We will develop architectural proposals that foster a holistic and interdisciplinary understanding of research and teaching, resulting in a creative knowledge environment fit to address the complex challenges society is facing today – a true heterotopia. With our contributions we aim to encourage openness, connectivity, mobility and freedom and thus anchoring the University in its context, in Liechtenstein and beyond. Based on our previous research, we understand the University as a platform for knowledge generation and exchange and will aim to make it more accessible. In order to achieve this, the physical environment created will play a key role. In line with this year’s topic “upcycling” this includes the conversion and expansion of existing buildings on our current campus based on a careful examination of its architectural potential.


The following questions will be the drivers of our research and design: What is an ideal (physical) environment within which twenty-first century universities can thrive? And what could this mean for the University of Liechtenstein and its understanding of a diverse and open “campus”?


Any transformation requires time. We will therefore establish a design practice that is process-based, never complete and always in flux. The carefully crafted, time-based drawing will be our main generator and transporter of ideas, therefore venturing, as usual, beyond the traditional means of architectural representation. We will look into and question Foucault's notion of the heterotopia. We will outline their principles and analyse where they work, where they need to be upcycled or where heterotopian approaches simply remain utopian.


The studio will be supported by a variety of researchers and scholars; our collaborators Dalal Elarji and Christoph Michels are currently working on the project OSCAR (Organizing spaces of creativity and reflection) which researches how institutions of higher education organise their spatial development in an increasingly urban, creative and entrepreneurial society. Vera Kaps will provide valuable expertise gained from the research project NEST (New Schools of Thought) and the resulting publication[2], which analysed and reflected on a series of case studies of institutions involved with architectural mediation.


[1]Foucault, M. (1967). Of other Spaces. Paris: Éditions Gallimard

[2]Kaps, V. & Staub, P. (Eds). (2018). New Schools of Thought. Zurich: Triest Verlag