Johan Bettum OCEAN North project records

Johan Bettum OCEAN North project records

Part of


  • Johan Bettum (archive creator)
  • Johan Bettum (architect)
  • OCEAN North (architectural firm)
  • Kivi Sotamaa (collaborator)
  • Bonsak Schieldrop (collaborator)
  • Kim Baumann Larsen (collaborator)
  • Markus Holmstén (collaborator)
  • Lasse Wager (collaborator)
  • Vesa Oiva (collaborator)


Johan Bettum OCEAN North project records

Dates of creation



  • archives

Level of archival description


Extent and Medium

  • Approximately 1640 digital files (3.4 GB)
  • 1 drawing
  • 4 CDs
  • 2 Zip disks
  • 1 SyQuest 44 MB disk cartridge

Scope and Content

The Johan Bettum OCEAN North project records, 1995-2000, primarily consist of records related to three OCEAN North projects to which Johan Bettum contributed: Synthetic Landscape (1995-2000), and the Finnish international architectural competitions entries for the Jyväskylä Music and Arts Centre (1997) and the Töölö Football Stadium (1997).

Records for these three projects reflect the creative process of Bettum, his team, and their collaborators. They show extensive exploration of the relationship between buildings’ shapes, their environments and their programs, including how spaces are defined in relation to natural or artificial topographies. Bettum and his team created the approach of particle streaming and the study of Channelling Systems to achieve this type of exploration, and applied and refined the techniques through the development of the three projects documented in the archive. Preliminary digital modeling was conducted by members in Oslo in coordination with Johan Bettum, and further development occurred in intensive work sessions with the Helsinki team and other OCEAN collaborators.

Records also briefly document other projects worked on by the OCEAN network, such as the Canberra Finnish Embassy competition entry and the Urban Surfaces exhibit installation. These are mainly images from the different projects, grouped together as reference materials.

OCEAN’s design process appears to have made significant use of technological tools. For example, an AA exhibition proposal indicates that the third phase of Synthetic Landscape made use of Adobe Photoshop, Alias/Wavefront Studio, VIZ, Microstation, Mathematica, a Roland CAMM3 milling device, and a DTM Sinter Station 2000, among other tools. However, most of the design digital records retained by Johan Bettum are drawings saved as images and not in their original formats. Overall, born-digital files include raster and vector images; Photoshop and Illustrator files; CAD drawings and digital models in Rhinoceros, form*Z, IGES, and 3D Studio; Quicktime videos; and a number of textual records such as PDFs, Word documents, and plain text files. Only one physical drawing, related to Synthetic Landscape, was transferred with the born-digital records.

Although records indicate that physical models were created in the work process, it appears that they were not retained by Johan Bettum, hence they are not part of his records. A few digital photographs of the physical models are present in the archive.


In 1994 Tom Verebes, Michael Hensel, Ulrich Königs and Boštjan Vuga met at the Architecture Association (AA) in London and started working together under the name OCEAN doing experimental and interdisciplinary research on urban design and architecture. As they geographically dispersed the following year, it became “OCEAN net” and other architects were invited to join the network, including Johan Bettum, who was then based in Oslo.

In 1997 and 1998, the network evolved: OCEAN UK and OCEAN US began working together as OCEAN D, and members from Cologne, Helsinki and Oslo regrouped and worked under the name OCEAN North from 1998 to 2008. OCEAN North then restructured as a not-for-profit organization based in Norway, identifying itself as OCEAN Research Design Association. Work from the various OCEAN groups and subgroups include projects for architectural competitions, exhibitions, publications and conferences.


Hensel, M. (2006), Evolving Synergy: OCEAN Currents, Current OCEANs and Why Networks Must Displace Themselves. Architectural Design: AD, 76: 104–108. doi:10.1002/ad.331

OCEAN design Research Association, “About OCEAN.” Accessed November 2017, http://www.ocean-designresearch.net/index.php/about-ocean-mainmenu-85/about-ocean

Ateljié Sotamaa. “Portfolio.” Accessed November 2017, http://portfolio.sotamaa.net/

Greg Lynn, ed. Archaeology of the Digital 17: OCEAN North, Jyväskylä Music and Arts Centre, Montréal: Canadian Centre for Architecture, 2017. ePub.

Reference Number


Physical Description

Disks in this archive were created and used with Classic OS-era Mac computers and are thus formatted using Hierarchical File System (HFS). Files may be missing file extensions, as HFS handles file identification through file system metadata rather than extensions. Because HFS is no longer supported on contemporary computers, some forensic recovery is required to make the logical files from these disks usable on modern machines. Files were extracted to provide for access to researchers. Disk images were also retained given the eventual possibility of accessing files in their original software environment with the use of emulators. This fonds contains a number of born-digital files in CAD and 3D modeling formats. Due to the complex and often proprietary nature of CAD formats, proper rendering and use of these files may require highly specific software. CCA’s dedicated Study Room CAD workstation is loaded with a wide but incomplete range of such software. For further information about services and software available for interacting with obsolete or niche file formats, please contact Collection Reference (ref@cca.qc.ca) and ask to speak with the Digital Archivist.


Digital records had been kept on physical media (Jaz drives, Zip disks, CDs, SyQuest cartridge) and organized by projects by Johan Bettum at the time of their creation or shortly thereafter.

CCA archivists arranged the material into two series:

AP194.S1: Projects

AP194.S2: OCEAN reference files

Records have been described at file-level and maintained in their original order, with each file-level description corresponding to the content of a piece of digital storage media.

Biographical notes

Johan Bettum, born in 1962, is an architect whose practice focuses on research and experimental design. He is a professor and program director at the Städelschule Architecture Class in Frankfurt-am-Main and maintains an architectural practice, ArchiGlobe, for small-scale projects.

An alumni of London’s Architecture Association, after majoring in biology at Princeton University, he went on to pursue research on composite polymer materials as a fellow at the Polymer Composite Materials in Architecture (OPPCMA) research program at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design, from 1997 to 2001. Bettum also completed a PhD thesis on polymer composites in 2009 at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design. He has taught and lectured at various institutions over the years, such as the Architecture Association, the University of California in Los Angeles, the Berlage Institute and Innsbruck University.

Johan Bettum was the lead of the OCEAN network Oslo team from 1996 to 2000, which worked primarily with the Helsinki team led by Kivi Sotamaa.

Published materials include:

Bettum, Johan. “An evolutionary architecture.” AA Files, no. 30 (Autumn 1995): 70-73.

Bettum, Johan and Michael Hensel. “Channelling Systems: Dynamic Processes and Digital Time-Based Methods in Urban Design.” AD Architectural Design 70, no.3 (June 2000): 36-43.

Bettum, Johan. “The Material Geometry of Fibre-Reinforced Polymer Matrix Composites and Architectural Tectonics. Towards a New Paradigm of Synthesis in Architectural Design.” PhD diss., Oslo School of Architecture and Design, 2009.


Form defining strategies : experimental architectural design. Edited by Asterios Agkathidis, Markus Hudert and Gabi Schillig. Berlin: Ernst Wasmuth Verlag, 2007.

Architectural Design : A.D. : Vol. 72 No. 1; Profile No. 155 (Jan. 2002)

Städelschule Architecture Class. “Faculty and Staff.” Accessed November 2017: http://sac.staedelschule.de/en/people

Conditions governing access

  • Access by appointment only.

Conditions governing reproduction

  • For copyright information or permission to reproduce material from the fonds, please contact the CCA (reproductions@cca.qc.ca).

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

  • Gift of Johan Bettum on 18 November 2015.

Custodial history

Prior to their transfer to CCA, the material in this archive was kept in the personal possession of Johan Bettum, most recently in Frankfurt, Germany.

These records were acquired by CCA as part of the Archaeology of the Digital project. Selected items from the Terra Cultura – Jyväskylä Music and Arts Centre were displayed in the show Archaeology of the Digital: Complexity and Convention, May-October 2016.

Archivist's note

  • A single-level record for this archive was created by Digital Archivist Tim Walsh in July 2016. The archive was fully processed and described by Mireille Nappert, Digital Processing Archivist, in 2017.

Credit line

When citing the collection as a whole, use the citation:
Johan Bettum OCEAN North project records,
Collection Centre Canadien d’Architecture/
Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montréal.
When citing specific collection material, please refer to the object’s specific credit line.

Language of material

English, Norwegian

Related units of description

  • As part of the Archeology of the Digital series of exhibitions, interviews were conducted with the architects and published in an ePub format: Canadian Centre for Architecture. Archaeology of the Digital 17: OCEAN North, Jyväskylä Music and Arts Centre, ed. Greg Lynn (2017), ISBN 978-1-927071-38-0. Additional records related to these OCEAN North projects can be found in AP198: Kivi Sotamaa OCEAN North project records. Models related to a second phase of the Jyväskylä Music and Arts Centre project, presented at the Venice Architectural Biennale in 2004, are part of the permanent collection of the FRAC Centre in Orléans, France.

General note

  • For some of the digital files, the “Last modified date” information is outside the real timeframe of the records creation date by Bettum and OCEAN North (1995-2000). The dates is sometimes displayed as 1925-05-25 or 1957-03-21, for example. This is due to a technical issue affecting how file timestamps are interpreted by Unix time system. For preservation purposes, affected files dates were modified to 1970-01-01 00h00, which is “time 0” in Unix time system. Modified dates for some digital files are likely the date of their transfer to their physical media (Jaz drive, CD, etc.) Forward slashes (an allowable character in HFS but not in modern file systems) in filenames have been replaced with underscores.

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