Open Conference Systems, National Conference on the Beginning Design Student

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Play it Again [and Again…] the Benefits of Iterative Study through Synthesis

Last modified: 2016-12-09


“Our hands are organs for thinking. When they are not working in order to know or learn, they are thinking. Drawing, building models, sketching... is a matter of “doing” that turns into a way of “thinking” where hands and ideas are joined together.”   Martin Heidegger

Traditional beginning design studios take students outside the world of their experience by teaching representation strategies that rely on abstraction.  This project attempts to integrate hand techniques to extend and reinforce the lessons of spatially based conceptual design exercises.  The first design project teaches students to become acutely aware of how things work.  Students were asked to analyze and record a mechanical device and reinterpret its role as an organizational tool through abstraction.  This pedagogical model encourages beginning design students to develop a tactile-driven sensibility through synthesis and section explorations at the inception of their design process.

According to Bauhaus principles “To experiment is at first more valuable than to produce, free play in the beginning develops courage,” (Albers 1938) students were encouraged in the next iteration to use their analytical drawings as a conceptual map to design a spatial construct that displayed and described the Projective Tool. Although the Spatial Construct itself did not have moving parts and did not need to contain the object, it was asked that it register the object’s movements and implied trajectories, and embody the object’s operations, organization, and hierarchy of parts. The rigorous discipline of making is critical, as it remains the closest medium to the reality of buildings.

By simultaneously drawing in section- understanding the design through vertical cuts rather than the typical horizontal perspective- students understand the idea of a choreography of a viewing sequence that allowed projects to have focal points within a narrated experience. Again moving back to the physical, tangible models offered the opportunity for beginning students to use their two-dimensional sections as maps for tectonic discovery.  By grouping the sectional composites into three scales (entry, passage, and arrival), students were able to generate an array of possible human experiences.

This paper will focus on a design studio pedagogy in which the iterative study of transformation and synthesis from an object, can inspire and create Spatial Constructs.  Theses spatial constructs are developed through sectional analysis at various scales- that which are consistent to building in the “real world”.