design studio


UTOPIA, ABSTRACTION, SPACE – conquered nature

Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design Budapest

Institute of Architecture

Tutors: Daniel Balo, Tamas Bene



The theoretical part of the course unfolds a dystopian vision in the relationship of nature and men. The core of the dystopia depicts a state where nature is conquered by humans, existing only as a framed phenomenon, where the only species that survive are the ones that are indispensable for the existence of the human species. Everything else that is replaceable is either extinct or part of a skansen as an exhibition item – deprived from its former role or function in nature. The course works with references not only from the field of architecture but from a much broader horizon: Werner Herzog, Greco de Rujiter, Kisho Kurokawa, Edvard Burtynsky, Sir Ebenezer Howard, Office KGDVS, Myoung Ho Lee etc… to mention a few.

“Taking a close look at – at what’s around us there – there is some sort of a harmony. It is the harmony of… overwhelming and collective murder.”  Werner Herzog

The concept of the course is to combine a carefully chosen space with an abstract idea, utopia or dystopia and study the fusion of the two throughout a semester. As a result, the outcomes are designs, installations or works of art which react and reflect on the theoretical background of the semester as well as on the quality of the space where they are intended.

Space, location

The location of the projects is given by the tutors at the beginning of each semester. Therefore, the design and thinking process starts with the analysis of the space and its environment in order to create site-specific installations.


The course is multidisciplinary, applicants from different institutions (design, media, architecture, theoretical studies) can participate. It is open for 16 students who work in groups throughout the semester, each group consists of minimum two architects. The designs are developed in separate teams with weekly supervision and tutoring from the professors until the projects reach their final stage. The deliverables are detailed technical construction drawings, visuals and a list of materials used for the projects. The final stage in the semester is the construction itself: each design is built by the students.