The School of Walls and Space

The School of Walls and Space, the Royal Danish Academy of the Arts, Copenhagen, Denmark. 


2008 to 2017. (The department offically closed June 2017)


The School of Walls and Space investigated contemporary notions of space, its production, privatization and the role of the artist as a critical and political agent within it. It used both traditional and more experimental pedagogical methods.


The School was a department at the Royal Danish Academy of the Fine Arts in Copenhagen and was led by Nils Norman. The department encouraged the development of an interdisciplinary, research-based practice. It balanced individual mentoring with collective group activities. It used traditional pedagogical methods: group and one-to-one critiques, seminars and talks, in conjunction with the exploration of collaborative teaching models which the department researches and developed collectively. These included brainstorming techniques, games, charrettes, actions and happenings. It also explored historical practices, such as psychogeography and derive, and the teaching methods of Paolo Freire, Augusto Boal, Roy Ascott, Paul Goodman, bell hooks and Colin Ward. Academic groundwork in the history and theory of the emergence and production of public space was developed through a series of readings, lectures and seminars.


Field-trips, tours, walks and excursions were an integral component of the School’s activities, using a ‘School Without Walls’ methodology where the spaces, zones and ecologies of the city became the classroom – parks, squares, plazas, ecological experiments, collective farms, housing projects, cooperatives, public artworks and other interesting or problematic urban planning developments. International cities and towns were considered as potential sites of investigation. Parallel to these activities – issues and topics related to the public sphere and public art were discussed. A specific issue or theme was chosen by the group to be researched, discussed and developed into a final project each year. These included more focused workshops over a period of a few days with invited participants; individual guest visits, reading groups and projects. Also related to each project was the development of a reading list, a library, archive, and film events. 

Networks were developed with other schools in the Academy as well as with local, national and international university departments and art schools. Close links with visiting artists, architects, urban planners, landscape architects, curators and scientists were developed. 

From 2008 to 2010 the department developed and ran a Permaculture design course led by Poul Erik Pedersen (Landskabarkitekt, mdl).

Past and ongoing themes included: permaculture and the city; politics and art;
Culture and Gentrification; post-capitalism and therapy; self-organisation and counter culture; alternative education; Fantasy; role playing; games; food production; sexuality and space; gentrification and Utopia.

Guests and collaborators with the department included: Emma Hedditch, Brian Holmes, Lasse Lau, Julie Ault, Martin Beck, Luca Frei, John Jordan, Mikkel Bolt and Jakob Jakobsen, Howard Slater and Anthony Davies, Silvia Federici, Iain Boal, George Caffentzis, Peter Linebaugh, Melanie Gilligan, Lize Mogel, Gitte Villesen, Curatorial Action, Anna Davin, Madeleine Bernstorff, Johannes Paul Raether, Stephan Dillemuth, Florian Hüttner, Lars Bang Larsen, Annika Lundgren,

Kevin Dooley, Stefan A. Pedersen, Terre Thaemlitz, Full Unemployment Cinema, Dan Kidner and Petra Bauer and the Learning Site.

Walls and Space student Vladas Suncovas presenting ideas for a future architecture related workshop. 2012

Poul Erik Pedersen leading a Permaculture course at Walls and Space. 2008-2010

Writer and artist Stewart Home talks about his work, London. 2009

Presentation by students from the City as School, NYC. 2009

Art and Security audio walk, NYC. 2009

Ken Dunn founder of the Resource Centre, Chicago. 2009

Walls and Space's Caliban and the Witch reading group at the Really Free School, London. 2011

SummaSkool, London. 2011

Swimming in the Hudson River, NYC. 2009

Roskilde Music Festival study trip, Roskilde. 2008

Testing out public sculpture, Chicago. 2009