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review space with students

MArch year 1 design studio at ZJU Hangzhou

The Department of Architecture at the College of Engineering and Architecture of Zhejiang University in Hangzhou invited me to conduct a design studio with students in the first year of the Masters Program for three years during the autumn and winter quarters since the academic year 2015-16.
I worked with the students half a day each week with some additional meetings in the autumn quarter and weekly additional discussions in the winter quarter.

Course outline 2017-18

Focus: In this design studio, we concentrate our interest and effort on three distinct but related topics: a working method, a study method, and a design issue. We study a specific design issue in a particular way using an explicit working method.

Working method: We use parametric descriptions to generate graphics and models. This could be done entirely by hand but we will use software on a computer. This allows for a clear separation of the description as a text from the graphic result and implements the abstract idea in an articulated process, making it possible to experience their equivalence. Although a range of software could be used for this, we will use ArchiCAD, specifically its editor for parametric objects with the programming language GDL – Geometric Description Language.

Study method: We use cycles of making, observing, and reacting. We start by doing something simple, then observe the result, try to see something, and use this for a next cycle. This gives us a chance to discover something unexpected and to develop complexity through refinement rather than complications. To support these cycles, we will continuously document the process and its results.

Design issue: Space, as one fundamental aspect of architectural design, can be seen as the perceived effect of space defining elements, their properties, arrangements, and relationships. We look at their possible organisation over levels of order.

Background: The working method is not based on recent popular trends but on my interest stemming from the time as a student and further work done since on my own and with students on various occasions at different schools. The study method is based on the way I studied leverworks and on work done with Gu Daqing during the time of the Tectonics Studio at CUHK, to which also the main design issue refers.

Working sequence: In the first term, we learn and develop the working method, practice the study method, and mainly deal with levels of order. In the second term we will study an existing building, shifting the emphasis to space definition and organisation. The first term will mainly consist of tutorials in which we make a series of exercises together. In the second term, each participant will work with a different existing building and most of the class time will be spent with discussing the work.

et cetera