052-1129-23L  Architectural Design V-IX: Studio Rhizomes (GD C.Baumann)

SemesterAutumn Semester 2023
LecturersC. Baumann
Periodicityevery semester recurring course
Language of instructionEnglish
CommentPlease register (Link) only after the internal enrolment for the design classes (see Link).

Project grading at semester end is based on the list of enrolments on 1.11.2023 (valuation date) only. This is the ultimate deadline to unsubscribe or enroll for the studio.


052-1129-23 UArchitectural Design V-IX: Studio Rhizomes (GD C.Baumann)
Kein Unterricht am 24/25.10 (Seminarwoche).
16 hrs
Tue09:45-17:30HIL F 61 »
Wed08:00-17:30HIL F 61 »
C. Baumann

Catalogue data

Abstractstudio rhizomes

During this semester, we will investigate the metaphor of the rhizomes. This methodology will be applied to the study of large-scale landscape and the planning of site-specific ecological, climatic and community-based corridors. This work will be developed thanks to the tools of large-scale cartography (GIS), model-making, ecological sections and speculative narratives.
ObjectiveAccording to the American rural sociologist Elizabeth Barham “scientists, environmental activists, planners and even most politicians have come to realize that nature cannot be preserved in isolated eco-islands, surrounded by destruction everywhere else.” (Ecological Boundaries as Communities Boundaries: The politics of Watershed, 2001). We will during this studio embrace this statement and investigate how rhizomatic systems allow us, in our current era of mass extinction, ecological collapse and global heating, to act upon broad territories in order to shape ecological, climatic and community-based corridors.

Most plants have roots but not all of them have rhizomes. The rhizome is the underground part of a plant’s root system. It grows horizontally underneath the soil and has the ability to shoot upwards, giving life to individuals having a similar genetic material. Some common examples of rhizomatic species include bamboo, gingers, asparagus or potatoes. Many weeds successfully expand via their rhizomatic system, like the stinging nettle or the infamously invasive Japanese knotweed.

According to the French post-modern philosopher Deleuze and the French psychoanalyst Guattari, the rhizome is also a structure of specific interest (Rhizome: introduction, 1976). Whereas the two men resent the image of the tree structure as archetypal, hierarchical, deeply rooted in the ground and therefore reflecting conservative value, they consider rhizomes as a system with many benefits, to name but a few:

- Rhizomes cannot break, not because of their strength but rather thanks to their remarkable resilience.
- Rhizomes can be connected to others by multiple entry point and therefore do not have a fixed centre.
- Rhizomes are heterogenous and therefore do not respect a rigid hierarchy.
- Rhizomes have a desirable lack of unity, allowing them a spatial expansion through multiple entry points.
- Rhizomes development is similar to a cartography. It shapes a map always likely to be remodelled or amended.
- Rhizomes produce clones and therefore are neither alienated to sexual reproduction nor burdened by genealogy.
- Rhizomes can be formed between different species, wasp and an orchid for instance constitute an exemplary rhizomatic connection.

The German architect Ungers tells us that “Designers use the metaphor as an instrument of thought that serves the function of clarity and vividness antedating or bypassing logical processes” (City Metaphors, 1974). This is what attracts us in the metaphor of the rhizome. We will indeed during the semester use it as a tool, allowing us not only to understand the structure of a plant itself but also to apply its system to a dramatically larger scale, the one of the landscape. As a structure, a rhizome extends through space, covering a large surface without invading everything. It curiously engages with some points of interest but simultaneously neglects others. As such, it holds many similarities to the landscape architecture project, which requires to measure its intervention, reject what is superfluous and select the minimum action needed to have the biggest impact in order to create bridges between otherwise disconnected ecologies and territories.
Every group will be assigned a representative site of large scale, that they will first have to analyse before to create a hypothesis of the site future development. The triad of actions “Form/Process/Ecosystem” will be guiding the studio rhizomes in the following sequence:


1. Form: identifying existing rhizomatic patterns in a big-scale landscape with the tools of GIS cartography, site-survey, pictures and model-making.
2. Process: understanding the evolution of those patterns over time, attempt to look at the site through different timelines (human, animal, vegetal, geological, …) thanks to archival research, historical maps and historical iconography (postcard, paintings).
3. Ecosystem: Identifying existing ecological, climatic and community-based networks based on schemes and the use of detailed section of existing ecosystems.


1. Process: Identify potential of evolution of analysed patterns thanks to the tools of layered cartography, evolutive schemes and speculative narration.
2. Ecosystem: Imagine future synergies between ecologies, climate and land use with the creation of section of the proposed ecosystems.
3. Form: Imagine those evolutions and use an appropriate vocabulary to define with the support of the tools of cartography, speculative collages and model-making.
Prerequisites / NoticeGroup work only.

The introduction will take place on Tuesday 19.09.2023 at 10h. The studio will be structured according to the following framework:

Site visit
Review 1/3 – Presentation Analysis
Review 2/3 – Presentation Hypothesis
Review 3/3 – Final review
Exact dates will be announced at the start of the semester.

Extra cost – per student – ca 100 CHF for the site visit.
Subject-specific CompetenciesConcepts and Theoriesassessed
Techniques and Technologiesassessed
Method-specific CompetenciesAnalytical Competenciesassessed
Media and Digital Technologiesassessed
Project Managementassessed
Social CompetenciesCommunicationassessed
Cooperation and Teamworkassessed
Customer Orientationassessed
Leadership and Responsibilityassessed
Self-presentation and Social Influence assessed
Sensitivity to Diversityassessed
Personal CompetenciesAdaptability and Flexibilityassessed
Creative Thinkingassessed
Critical Thinkingassessed
Integrity and Work Ethicsassessed
Self-awareness and Self-reflection assessed
Self-direction and Self-management assessed

Performance assessment

Performance assessment information (valid until the course unit is held again)
Performance assessment as a semester course
ECTS credits14 credits
ExaminersC. Baumann
Typegraded semester performance
Language of examinationEnglish
RepetitionRepetition possible without re-enrolling for the course unit.
Additional information on mode of examinationUltimate deadline for changing enrolments for this course is 1.11.2023, 24:00 h.
After this date it is strictly forbidden to enrol for the course or to delete the enrolment!

Learning materials

Main linkInformation
Only public learning materials are listed.


No information on groups available.


There are no additional restrictions for the registration.

Offered in

Architecture BachelorArchitectural Design (from 5. Semester on)WInformation