This is one of the coolest ideas for a studio I’ve seen in a while. During last semester, Armin Blashbichler conducted a class at The University of Innsbrook’s SoA, tasking 21 students with studying 21 different banks in the city and coming up with plan’s on how to steal from them.
The basis behind the project was to have the students study the banks. Their spaces, their circulation, their weak points, etc and find an Achilles heel that would allow someone to rob the bank of an asset. All 21 students presented their work graphically on a single poster, which were all shared with the banks (who were unaware of the project until the end of the semester).
I think this is such an original way to go about the study and evaluation of space. Of course we all have a goal, and know what we need to understand, when visiting a site, having a unique one like having to rob the bank provides a different perspective. This perspective helps to remove oneself from our normal way of judging, creating new hierarchies within our minds of necessary information, judgments of space, circulation paths and the immediate legibility from a certain vantage point.
When asked how students robbing banks helped learn about architecture and practice, Blasbichler said “…you look at the work profile of a certain job, say a welder. The welder is an expert who acquired knowledge and abilities in a certain field. In order to work efficiently, the work flow becomes systematized. The system allows him to be quick and not to think twice. The system also prevents him from solutions he might never have thought of. The same applies for basically any job. Now imagine assigning the job of the welder to the President of the United States – and vice versa. Let a footballer do an engineer, a doctor in the role of a carpenter etc. etc. It would be a mess, for sure – but I am also sure that this change of perspective, the usage of ones abilities within another field bears in itself radical new solutions within each discipline…”
Although tasked with “robbing a bank,” the idea was to steal an asset, not money. So most students created some way to steal information, while one student created a poster describing how to set up a hedge fund, making money off of bank securities, basically betting on a bank. Another student created plans to slow down the bank to such a slow pace that they would lose money in the process of normal operations, and yet another student planned to steal the simple pens chained to the desks. All of the projects were presented at gallery in Innsbrook, with representatives from the 21 chosen banks in attendance. There was also a book published, showing all 21 projects.
I just wish one of my professors had an idea like this when I was in school.