Unprofessional Studio regards its work as an interdisciplinary process based on the application of different methods: model making, mock-ups, film, photography, travel, and even laser scanning. With the resulting spectrum of tools, it engages with design tasks in a non-linear, ever-changing way.
The exhibition Urlaubsfotos (Vacation Photos) illustrates this non-linear approach. The structure of the archive, presented in an interactive installation, attempts to overcome conventional hierarchies and create an open arena that fosters new references and independent creation. In contrast to arbitrary visual data available online, each photo is linked to a specific personal experience. In this way, Urlaubsfotos also addresses the importance of one’s own physical experience of material, space, and the city. The ambiguous title suggests that it is less a matter of purely rational experience than of reflecting on architecture as a context. And, of course, every architect is familiar with how vacations are inevitably accompanied by their analytical perspective trained by daily practice, with travel routes oriented to architectural icons.
Unprofessional Studio describes it this way: Our ideas about buildings and projects are a blend of ubiquitous architectural photos, plans, details, and explanations. But it’s different when we visit the source of the myths, idols, and perfect narratives – to experience the surrounding landscape, neighborhood, and, finally, the building itself. (Now comes the comparison with reality: Hmm, much smaller than expected! Ah, great detail…) Seeing architecture is, above all, a physical experience. Besides scale and spatial references, we perceive properties like temperature, acoustics, and smells. The experiences from that day weave a little story around the building and embed themselves in our memory.
Last but not least, Unprofessional Studio questions the relevance of archives today with the photos published on its website. While working with archives of images and materials has been part of the usual design process for generations of architects, their importance is changing radically in the face of digital tools. Against this backdrop, Urlaubsfotos offers an alternative to the standardized design methods that are becoming increasingly efficient in response to economic pressures. Although the archive of vacation photos is technically up to date, it also testifies to the belief in the built structure and its non-copyable, authenticity-creating qualities.
Unprofessional Studio was founded by Martin Binder and Kristof Schlüßler in Berlin in 2017, with a branch in Taiwan since 2020. Their projects include the Wohneinheit Ökohaus and Rowhouse Bade Road (both 2021). They are currently working on Molkerei Wurzen, Wohnhausensemble Taiwan, and Eiskeller. In cooperation with Jonathan Banz, they are creating a digital impression of an apartment building for Museum HGSK by Arno Brandlhuber. With their Summerschools (guests include Arno Brandlhuber, Christian Kerez, Nikolai von Rosen), they try out alternative forms of education. Kristof Schlüßler teaches digital architectural surveying at Hochschule München University of Applied Sciences in Munich.