EASA: The Journey
EASA: The Journey

text: Louis Koseda
graphics: Grégoire Guex-Crosier (graph.2), Louis Koseda (graph.1)
photographs: Alexandra Polyakova (fot.1,2), Sheila Nurfajrina (fot.3)

reading time: around 10 min

// About SESAM:

The 005 CARENESS issue with its theme was initially dedicated to SESAM, POLIKLINIKA - an architectural event which will take place in Slavutych, Ukraine from 26th May to 6h June 2021. The editorial team of kreatura.zine wants to be actively present in the student environment and support important initiatives, as we also receive an incredible audience while collaborating with other creatives. On this occassion, we'd like to introduce the event to the wider public.

EASA is an educational platform connecting students and professionals within the discipline of architectural construction and thought Europe. SESAM (Small European Students of Architecture Meeting) is an overall name for all meetings, seminars and events within EASA platform. This year's edition is curated and organized by EASA Ukraine. The concept for SESAM, POLIKLINIKA, is focusing on healthcare, and its relation to architecture at the physical, methodological, and metaphorical levels. The theme aims to question the methods used in architectural practice to diagnose and prognose a ‘problem’.

The organizers propose three anatomic planes through which healthcare -maintenance or improvement of health-, will be addressed during Poliklinika through workshops and other discursive exchanges: prophylaxis, diagnosis and therapy.

The location for SESAM 2021 is the city of Slavutych, purposely built to rehouse the workers of the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant (CNPP) after the explosion of the fourth reactor in 1986 — the worst nuclear catastrophe in history.

more info: www.sesam2021ukraine.com

// EASA: The Journey (By Louis Koseda)

I was kindly asked by the team organising SESAM Ukraine to contribute to their participant call out. To give some information to aspiring participants about EASA and perhaps even inspire them to join. I happily accepted. But I started writing some things like “Consider everything in EASA an experiment” and “Easa is a living laboratory of ideas.” Both of these are true: In easa there is no grading system or a set system or accountability for outcomes of the education provided. It gives a unique freeform opportunity to test different educational systems, processes and ideas. But there is a lot more to it - and i struggled to express this just with snappy straplines. Every point i made felt like i was missing an entire backstory to contextualise EASA within a larger cultural discourse. Sadly, despite running for 40 years, you would struggle to find any writing or article that effectively positions EASA in the context of radical and utopian pedagogies.

EASA has seen the most talented architects in the world join and contribute, from every school in the world. To many it is a sacred and a shared learning space for an expansive European architecture community — that has handed down through consecutive generations of students and young professionals. However, in order to retain authenticity and decentralisation EASA has made sacrifices. It never had any longterm paid staff. It has also never articulated, shared and publicised outputs and learnings. This has always been a major systemic challenge amongst all decentralised and co-operative organising.
There is something incredibly romantic in this inability to contextualise itself, it creates a feeling of endless possibility, of total reinvention; it also means that EASA has successfully continued to exist beyond the mainstream architectural or media lens and therefore resisted pressure to commodify itself. Occupying a perpetual position of importance for the architectural profession. It has become more like an unseen substructure, working from the bottom up. With this all said, i decided to write a concise history from my understanding to help the participants to make quicker sense of it.



It is possible to understand EASA by analysing some of the cultural DNA in the ideas at time of origin: 1970’s Britain an architect named Cedric Price created a bold project called Polyarch where he and a team of students converted a double decker bus into a sort of nationwide architecture education unit that operated between schools, its aim was to create an education revolution to “unite rather than separate the student community” acting as a quasi-union, semi-network — and mobile education institution. The lesson from Cedric is that there is an intimate link between free, mutual education platforms and an expansive view of the profession which leads to architectural unionism between different schools and professionals. The thing Cedric Price exposed is this; we must move beyond schools, companies and professional titles for the profession to retain it’s resilience. The format was successful in propagating a progressive, expansive attitude among students and formed the germ of the Winter Schools movement.

The Winter Schools

The first Winter School was held in Sheffield in the late 70’s — moving from city to city in a decentralised way. This format of grass roots direction lasted for several years. Eventually the winter schools were replicated to become permanent fixtures of most schools; “it became like a badge of honour to have a winter school, and if you didn’t have one you were falling behind” and over time they almost became a part of the curriculum itself. Winter Schools were popular until the nineties but then “almost all of the winter schools were cut”. This is partially because of new trends in educational practice, postmodernism gained purchase in the 1980s and 1990s, And the neoliberalisation of education brought budget cuts that meant that new, financially focussed entry requirements were introduced. As an idea that inherently resisted the commodification of education, the winter-schools represented a more emancipatory form of education. But this didn’t chime with the budget restrictions and emerging ideological condition of mainstream education system. It also defied the top heavy trends of the senior academic circles who regularly withdrew funded support.

In most cases academic modules align with job creators needs, who align their business model with the dominant economic system. Mutualism resists oppressed thinking that comes with this frame, and allows participants to voice opinions to progress new styles of architecture as they might relate to the real needs of the community, place and culture. It also has to be said that all senior academics have a career that depends a deterministic education model rather than a mutualist one.