Open Conference Systems, National Conference on the Beginning Design Student

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Guided Visualization Pedagogy: Connecting Sketch Models with BIM to Balance Rigor and Creativity
Mark Joseph O'Bryan

Last modified: 2016-12-13


The author will demonstrate why pre-visualization is so important and why this guided method of model making should be regarded as the formative guided pre-visualization tool. This paper describes a pedagogical framework that leverages the creative potential of physical sketch models as a formative pre-visualization tool to provide “a value target” for integrating Building Information Models (BIM). Rather than a road map to a final design outcome, using models in this way affords the student ways to quickly visualize and test solutions before beginning the laborious process of documenting a final design. This paper outlines a step-by-step pedagogical process that aligns expectations for a beginning design student and enables them to rigorously design a sophisticated resolution of structure, program, and poetics. The results of this integrated teaching method have produced two desirable outcomes: unified part-to-whole design solutions and increased the student’s confidence to address increasingly complex design challenges.

A traditional drawback of the sketch model is the student’s inability to occupy the proposed space. This paper addresses innovative ways to overcome this limitation. Programs like SketchUp can sometimes be used for this purpose, but they can appear to be too refined or finished, and therefore they are often perceived as a limit to creativity. The author will use examples of student work to demonstrate the limitations of traditional handmade models and present evidence of both improved creative development and rigor of this pedagogical approach by comparing outcomes of previous studios with more recent student work where the pedagogy was used to address the same design problems.

The author will demonstrate how to bring rough sketch models and hand sketches into a digital modeling environment in ways that encourage intuitive pre-visualizations that can be further examined using BIM analytic software. By using this method at the early stages of design, the student can iteratively approximate the viewer’s experience and integrate feedback from qualitative analysis of interior surfaces to produce precise lighting solutions of the buildings’ interior and exterior. This paper will also describe the role of the faculty, the studio context, the sketch model, and BIM integration in the beginning years of a foundation architectural design program.