The world constantly decays. Moisture gets in. Damp hangs around. Ice expands joints. Surfaces wear thin. Particles fall out of suspension. Materials rot. Insects breed. Animals chew. All kinds of wildlife war with all kinds of fabric. Humans make errors.

Stephen Graham & Nigel Thrift

One scratch is called damage. A thousand scratches is called patina. The idea of repair is virtually invisible in contemporary architectural practice and completely absent from critical discourse, yet ironically it is the very process which sustains the discipline and leaves traces of human existence. The elective will examine the invisible back-room of the contemporary city, the systems of repair which sustain the architectural and urban fields. Using analysis, documentary and physical intervention, we shall examine the boundaries of production (i.e. architecture and urban design) and oscillation between decay and repair. It may be assumed that in a city such as Zurich, which prides itself on the efficiency and effectiveness of urban infrastructure, that repair does not form a central part of its visible metabolism. The relative invisibility of repair is a veil over an extremely productive system of renewal and even innovation.


You will be asked to find either a site or infrastructural network which bears witness, either explicitly or implicitly to the symbiotic relationship between physical being decay and repair; to document the traces of failure and history. The broad structure of the elective will require you to find a topic, a site and a process.

A document describing the topic, field analysis (drawings and/or photography or film), the process, research and intervention.

Student Work

Malik Mantel

Lars Inderbitzin

Dario Wohler

Christoph Reichen