Unit 07: Absurd Pragmatism: Pragmatic Absurdism

Unit brief

This year’s major design project will run in parallel to a program taught by Professor Geir Brendeland to students at NTNU, Trondheim, Norway, building on a collaborative relationship that is now twelve years old.

The project will address the future life of a former submarine bunker – Dora II – one of two deep plan concrete structures built on the city’s docks during World War Two by the German civil and military engineering group, Organisation Todt. The structure’s massively thick walls were intended to provide shelter for German Navy U-boats while they were undergoing repair. Dora II was still incomplete when construction stopped as the war reached its conclusion. 

It is now a listed National Monument and lies at the centre of an area subjected to significant developmental pressure. Of a similar scale, yet different materially to its immediate neighbours, it is currently partially occupied by a boat repair business and a sub-sea test centre.  The city’s intention is that through adaptations and additions to the building, Dora II will become part of a network of public buildings and spaces in the proposed development. This ostensibly is our brief. 

Unit 07 has been invited by the city to design and build an ambitious timber structure within Dora II. The structure will perform the dual functions of exhibition space for archival photographs and a gathering place for organised and more informal events. Our colleagues in Trondheim have worked hard to secure funding for this project. It is envisaged that the final sum raised will cover travel and accommodation costs as well as build costs. The build will take place over eight days in late November. The complexity and speed of the project (and the cold autumnal weather) will require a collaborative spirit that we hope will lead to innovation. We intend, in a spirit of absurd pragmatism, to use the least material in the best way.

Image: Dora II August 2019. Credit: David Grandorge

Giant concrete structure in disrepair


Architecture MA
Tutors David Grandorge
Colin Wharry 
Where Goulston Street
Room GS1-15
When Monday and Thursday

Architecture Postgraduate Studios


Cass Studios archive by year