MSA Stage 4 School of Architecture

Dag von der Decken

Born in Munich, Germany holding an undergraduate degree in architecture from the Mackintosh School of Architecture, with work experience at Dogma in Brussels.

The problem-solving work process in the areas of Art and Design, paired with a big share in shaping where humanity is going, is what fascinates me about the profession of Architecture. To deal with the complexity as well as the diversity of this design process, interdisciplinarity is essential to provide a great framework for creativity and creation.
I am aiming to work in a way that is based on a sense of perfection and honesty, resulting from constantly questioning the approach to developing a project. This way of reconsidering ideas enables one to incorporate the effects you are reaching out for in a thorough manner. Each design intends to be a coherent consequence emerging from debated ideals initiated through a project.

High Corners

High Corners

Public/private dichotomies:
Life can be regarded as a gradient between the public and private realm, an interdependence of bodily and social needs.
Buildings are physical manifestations of this interconnection by serving physical needs and simultaneously providing frameworks for social life and culture.
To manifest this gradient, contemporary public/private dichotomies need to dissolve.
The political role of housing:
Housing today is regarded as a private concern. Its perception evolves around the nuclear family. Our imagination of what housing can be is limited to what we are being offered. To accommodate a diverse range of people, there needs to be a wider range of ways we dwell.
Housing is not a mere reaction to bodily needs, but to frame life itself, it must acknowledge its political role. It is fundamentally concerned with people and how we live together. Its role has the potential to influence cultural values on the scale of the city.

The role of the architect:
Architects should not be the ones telling people how to live, but they can provide comprehensive frameworks and systems to be altered and interpreted by the people inhabiting a space. Such a system becomes a means to respond to the needs of people as well as to accommodate cultural change. The architecture of mass housing should therefore be about giving autonomy to the way space can work. It should be transparent in the way it functions and become independent of its architects.
To give autonomy to the way space can work, architecture needs to comply with pre-existing frameworks of the city as much as it creates its own logic. This is happening on an urban scale, down to the structure of the building and the ways dwelling spaces can be organized.
‘High Corners’:
The project is a consequence of thinking on the scale of the city and the individual. ‘High Corners’ sits in between serving basic physical needs while playing with its socio-cultural responsibility.

Within the rigid urban system of tenement courtyard blocks in Glasgow, corner sites provide the opportunity for something ‘different’ to happen. Historically this has been special tenement solutions or public buildings. To this day, a lot of these sites sit empty.
Looking at corner sites as a ‘type’, their network provides an urban framework. Their unified treatment allows for an idea that integrates the scale of the city, which can be radically different to the surrounding architecture. Treating corner sites as a totality, the proposed buildings integrate into the existing urban context, but they expand on it through creating a new logic by relating between each other.

Symbolism of the tower:
A fundamental symbol of the city is the tower. While churches and their towers are typically situated on corner sites, what they represent, no longer establishes meaning for the general public the way it used to.
‘High Corners’ challenges the meaning of corner sites in a contemporary context, applying the idea to the context of Pollokshields in south Glasgow. The project proposes residential towers, with a specific civic function of its plinth on currently empty corner sites. The plinth is of use for people beyond the tower’s residents. A specific function and its location are mirrored in the tower’s appearance.
Housing towers in Glasgow have a bad connotation. ‘High Corners’ challenges the Glaswegian connotation of the isolated ‘high flats’, arguing that high-rise housing can be a desired way to dwell, if towers are integrated in a dense low-rise fabric, that embody socio-cultural values beyond its sole functioning in the private realm. It becomes a symbol of a cultural shift in the way we perceive and imagine dwelling space.