Gathering: Emergent Studio-Ljubljana-Sarajevo 10.14

Gregory Reginald Bailey

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle


To gather: verb - to go out, seek and collect with intent, to come together, meet, eat, drink and share….

‘Bosnia…’ in the UK’s increasingly multi-cultural, but arguably still xenophobic society, mention of the very name to many people here conjures mixed responses: ‘are you taking a gun?...’ ‘I’ve heard it’s beautiful’…. ‘isn’t that in Yugoslavia or somewhere..?’
However, for those who make the effort, even a tentative scratching at the surface of Bosnia and its relationship to the similarly misunderstood idea of ‘the Balkans’ brings forth a plethora of questions and exciting, intriguing images and possibilities of unrealised richness and depth, in both its place and populace.
So, to follow Lebbeus Woods’ exhortation and find out for ourselves, the Emergent Studio at the School of Architecture in Portsmouth, maintaining its established tradition of ‘working within cultures that are not our own’, decided to set its post-graduate design programme for 2014-15 within the context of ‘the Balkans’ specifically in Sarajevo. A ten day study trip subsequently took place in conjunction with the outstanding Seminar Zorec at the Architecture Faculty in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Beginning with a joint ‘gathering’ in that city and then together, approximately 50 students and staff, travelling to Sarajevo. The whole enterprise being generously welcomed, in spirit and kind, before, during and after by staff at the Sarajevo Faculty Basics of Architectural Design Department, and the Sarajevo practice Studio Zec.
This article describes the ambitions, the journeys - both physical and metaphorical - and the process, discussing interactions of students and staff and illustrated by examples of final project outcomes and student’s own commentary. It examines the effectiveness of the programme in achieving ‘Transformational Learning’, an aim of our school, but of particular emphasis within the phenomenological focus of the Emergent studio. It presents this event, its outcomes and potential for repetition, as validating evidence of, and support for, the immense educational and personal value of these kinds of collaborations to both to visiting students’ individual growth and development, beyond that achievable by ‘home-based’ projects, and to enhance experience and opportunities of hosts and their students.
It also discusses the potential for that student experience to contribute to the wider conversation around the ambitions and hopes of Bosnian people for their future and the part that architecture can play in it. With this aspect firmly in mind, a planned further collaboration combining research with student mobility and engagement with the Ljubljana and Sarajevo Faculties of Architecture, and others within and external to Europe, under the heading of ‘Architecture of the Edge ’is outlined.
In conclusion this Paper posits that the greater potential understanding of the ‘other’, of peoples of differing faiths and cultures, achievable by the students, suggesting contention with the current media ‘world image’, is hopefully a small step of inestimable value to the furtherance and promotion of a more civilised Europe, and indeed planet.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages10
Specialist publicationTristotrojka
Publication statusAccepted for publication - Apr 2016


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