Preemptive Architecture: Explosive Art and Future Architectures in Cursed Urban Zones


  • Stahl Stenslie



preemptive architecture, inverse thinking, discursive methodology, bomb-ready architecture, destruction as aesthetic category, smart materials


This article describes the art and architectural research project Preemptive Architecture that uses artistic strategies and approaches to create bomb-ready architectural structures that act as instruments for the undoing of violence in war. Increasing environmental usability through destruction represents an inverse strategy that reverses common thinking patterns about warfare, art and architecture. Building structures predestined for a construc­tive destruction becomes a creative act. One of the main motivations behind this paper is to challenge and expand the material thinking as well as the socio-political conditions related to artistic, architectural and design based practices.

Author Biography

Stahl Stenslie

Aalborg University

Stahl Stenslie (1965) PhD, is an artist, curator and researcher specializing in experimental media art, interactive experiences and disruptive technologies. He focuses on art and expressions that challenge ordinary ways of perceiving the world. His practice asks the questions we tend to avoid or where the answers lie in the shadows of existence. Keywords of his practice are somaesthetics, unstable media, transgression and the numinous. The technological focus in his works is on the art of the recently possible – such as: panhaptic communication on Smartphones; somatic and holophonic soundspaces, and disruptive, open source design of functional and lethal weapons for low cost 3D print. He is an award winning artist, exhibiting, moderating and lecturing at major international events (ISEA, DEAF, Ars Electronica, SIGGRAPH, Oslo Lux). He represented Norway at the 5th biennial in Istanbul, Turkey, co-organized 6cyberconf and won the Grand Prize of the Norwegian Council for Cultural Affairs. His PhD is on Touch and Technologies. Currently he is teaching and researching as a full professor in Art and Technology at Aalborg University, Denmark, and course director and researcher at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design. Since 2015 he has been the director of – Production Network for Electronic Art Norway.


Brouwer, Maria. Organizations, Individualism, and Economic Theory. London: Routledge, 2012. DOI:

Cohen, Sam A. Future of the Middle East – United Pan-Arab States: Divided by Imperialism, United by Destiny. Bloomington: AuthorHouse, 2014.

“Defense Issues: The myth of the precision bombing.” 2013. Accessed December 30, 2016.

Dunne, Anthony, and Fiona Raby. Speculative Everything: Design, Fiction, and Social Dreaming. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2013.

“Forensic Architecture: UAV: Unmanned Aerial Violence.” 2013. Accessed December 20, 2016.

Gandhi, M. K. Non-Violent Resistance. New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 2001.

Herford, Marta, ed. Brutal Beauty. Violence and Contemporary Design. Berlin: Kerber Verlag, 2016.

Hodges, M. “Forensic Architecture is unravelling conflict from Gaza to Guatemala.” 2016, Accessed December 30, 2016.

Jones, Jonathan. “Magic Mushrooms.” 2002.

Kanaani, Mitra, and Dak Kopec. The Routledge Companion for Architecture Design and Practice: Established and Emerging Trends. London: Routledge, 2015. DOI:

Lambert, Léopold. “Weaponized Architecture / Designing Volumes of Energy: A Materialist Reading of the Explosion. 2013. Accessed December 30, 2016.

Lewis, Richard L., and Susan I. Lewis. The Power of Art. Cengage Learning, 2013.

Marinetti. “The Futurist Manifesto.” Accessed December 20, 2016.

Metzger, Gustav. “Manifesto Auto-Destructive Art.” Accessed December 20, 2016.

Red Cross, 2016. Accessed December 20, 2016.

de Silva, Clarence W., ed. Vibration and Shock Handbook. London: CRC Press, 2005. DOI:

Smilowitz, Robert. “Designing Buildings to Resist Explosive Threats.” 2016.

Stiles, Kristine. “Book for the Unstable Media.” Accessed December 30, 2016.

Tate Modern. Accessed December 12, 2016.

Walker, Paul. “U.S. Bombing: The Myth of Surgical Bombing in the Gulf War.” 1992. Accessed December 30, 2016.

“Wars in The World.” 2016. Accessed December 12, 2016.




How to Cite

Stenslie, S. (2017). Preemptive Architecture: Explosive Art and Future Architectures in Cursed Urban Zones. AM Journal of Art and Media Studies, (12), 29–39.