Osa projects cross the boundaries between art and architecture, varying from minimal or moveable installations to the construction of actual buildings. The methods are simple, ranging from soft (performative) to hard (materialized). Interventions are often low-budget, yet powerful and effective — often even more so, in fact, than ‘highly sophisticated’ and ‘complex’ structures. Osa’s message is clear: “It is possible. Get on with it.”

Reasons enough to get connected with osa! For Bettery Magazine’s Q&A section, Karsten Huneck, Anja Ohliger and Bernd Truempler from osa will be commencing a workshop with the Manchester School of Architecture this week. The aim is to create ideas in response to the question raised by architectural critic and director of the University of Chicago, Robert Somol: How do we mobilize the risk of failure in a world that demands security?

“This question is extremely relevant in our time and particularly in the field of architecture and design,” Karsten Huneck explains. “We are increasingly dictated by regulations and laws in order to create projects that are 100% safe. By compromising pure ideas, which sometimes might entail a risk, we are potentially missing an opportunity which could be even greater in the event of failure.”

Regulations, in particular those for Health and Safety, are very strict in the UK. This creates an ideal platform to demonstrate how one can challenge these conditions.

Osa has a great relationship with the city of Manchester, having been involved in various projects such as Urban Oasis, Urban Play Exhibition, osa Merzen Installation and most recently the Atelier Zero project for the Cultural Olympiad 2012.

Atelier Zero was a collaboration between curator Jane Anderson, osa, the Manchester School of Architecture and ESA_Ecole Special D’architecture in Paris. It had its own challenges relating to risk: the main idea was to create a boating lake together with an ‘artificial’ row of beach huts on Piccadilly Basin.

Tom Jefferies, Dean of Manchester School of Architecture about the cooperation: “The level of indemnity required on a project often massively exceeds the likelihood of risk. Atelier Zero carried £15M of public liability insurance, and was supported by Manchester Metropolitan University, a very large UK university, within their general policy for buildings and estate. Under normal circumstances this level of cover would have prevented the project from happening through approved channels. The production of urban intervention projects would appear to require two possible conditions, either umbrella cover provided by a responsive and open minded institutional or corporate body, or guerrilla activity operating with no form of insurance delivered by a body with no assets. Each of these conditions requires very different responses to the nature of perceived risk and this consequently shapes the nature of any project. But then again, sometimes a good idea just has to happen and obstacles are there to be overcome.”

In the Bettery Workshop, together with a group of students and Thomas Jefferies — the dean of the Manchester School of Architecture — osa’s aim is to generate and realize ideas in response to Robert Somol’s question. The ideas are then to be implemented as urban interventions in Manchester.

We are looking forward to the cooperation!

Some examples of osa projects:

Intact, guerrilla project in East London 2005 / illegal makeover of a signal box
Photo by Trenton Oldfield
Urban Oasis, London and Manchester 2006 /marketing strategy for Hoegarden beer
Photo by Johannes Marburg
Sleeping Policeman, Dordrecht 2010 /urban intervention in a pedestrianized passage
Photo by Peter Cox
Eau de Cologne, Cologne 2010 / artificial puddle for Architectural Week
Photo by Ulrich Schwarz
Point of View, guerrilla project at London Olympic Fence 2008 / first Olympic viewing
Photo by osa