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Insight on secondment

Throughout their doctoral training, nine of the ten early stage researchers (ESR) involved in the TACK network will spend a total of ten months performing two part-time secondments. The first one of these, which, for most TACK ESRs started a few months or weeks ago, is the ‘practice-based secondment’. During these practice-based secondments, the ESRs are based at the premises of the architectural offices involved in the network. Here, we share a few impressions written by those who have already embarked on their practice-based secondment:

Filippo Cattapan, seconded to One Fine Day, based in Düsseldorf (Germany)

“For the moment I am working online, as the whole office is doing. This seems to work quite well. I have been inserted directly in a competition project and feel that it is a very direct and effective way to have an exchange and to understand how the office works. Being part of this competition project is particularly interesting because its topic. Focussed on the archaeological and urban rearrangement of the Roman wall of Wiesbaden, this competition theme touches upon several aspects of my doctoral research. So far, we have already had some very close and interesting conversations in the office.”

Caendia Wijnbelt, seconded to Cityfoerster, based in Hannover (Germany)

“Throughout the time I have been at Cityfoerster – I started on September 1st – the office has remained open and active and my secondment has been very immersive. I have participated in multiple projects; in one of them actively, in others with a bit more distance. Verena, one of Cityfoerster’s partners, made it possible to organise lunch talks during which I can update the office on my observations and findings, and as a way to engage in a dialogue with the whole team. These dialogues are subsequently deepened through spontaneous daily chats. The whole secondment experience is captured in series of logbooks. In the next few weeks, I will be sharing these logbook entries with the office by pinning these up in one of the rooms, to create an interactive area. The whole secondment experience has already been very valuable for the development of my PhD research, which focuses on ‘place and reflexivity’ to uncover traces of tacit knowledge.”

Mara Trübenbach, seconded to HaworthTompkins, based in London (UK)

“The collaboration with HaworthTompkins initially began in May this year, with bi-weekly online meetings. As the pandemic did not allow travelling, I investigated how verbal language and mediation become a prerequisite for communicating the physical features of materials in a digital environment. This remote observation turned out to be a powerful new research tool to conduct a study not only “about” but especially “with” people. In September, I embarked on a remote ethnographic study to observe the work of the office’s model maker. With this secondment, I hope to create a platform for discussing how research, observation and mediation of material can occur, as architectural practices have now completely changed their modes of communication due to the worldwide pandemic. Overall, the colleagues with whom I am collaborating as well as projects that I am involved in, are a great inspiration for my dissertation.”

Claudia Mainardi, second to onsite studio, based in Milan (Italy)

“I started my practice-based secondment at onsite studio on September 27th. The principals welcomed me very nicely and I soon found a way to fit into the daily routine. As a result of the pandemic, since September onsite studio – consisting of 2 principals and 20 employees – have been operating part in the office, part remotely, and in November, with the worsening of the pandemic, moved all its interactions online. This situation forced me to respond flexibly by adapting my research. At present, I am using different research methods than I had originally imagined, but these are proving to be rewarding.”

Anna-Livia Vorsel, seconded to Spridd, based in Stockholm (Sweden)

“I started my secondment with Spridd in September, and have followed the work at the practice at the office, and recently, online, working from home, as the rest of the practice has been doing. Through weekly office meetings, I get an insight into ongoing projects and work, and through an engagement with the archive of the practice, past projects. At the moment, I am working with, and looking at different projects at different scales, thinking and writing about the workings of the practice in relation to different clients and in different contexts.”

Ionas Sklavounos, seconded to AJDVIV, based in Ghent (Belgium)

“My secondment with “Architecten Jan De Vylder Inge Vinck” started on Monday the 5th of October 2020. Initially, I have been going to the office in Ghent twice a week although at the moment, due to corona restrictions I am working entirely from home. During the first weeks, I was assigned to a small yet very interesting renovation project on which I started making a model, while also keeping a daily diary, including notes and sketches. At the moment, I am looking into the office’s realized and ongoing work, focusing on adaptive reuse, apartment buildings, and residential blocks; trying to trace key features, and how these are articulated in construction detail, architectural typology, and urban context.”