DUNWOODY STUDIO SYLLABIS – Architectural Design Year 2

Spring Semester 2018

Instructor: Kerrik Wessel

 PLAYTIME – Accidental discovery through play

“Design is a game of find and seek, where the seeker does not know what he/she is looking for until he/she has found it” paraphrase from the introduction to H. Janson’s History of Art

Goal: Design and demonstrate an inspired modular building unit and building system of one’s own produced by hand drawing and modeling.


Up to this point in your education here at Dunwoody you have focused on what I call objective architectural drawing (i.e. construction drawings). This might very well be your first real chance to design. You are learning about building systems including electrical, mechanical and structural engineering. But if you want to work in an architectural office and communicate with designers, you need to have some experience designing.

We are going to draw by hand, model by hand and build by hand. I am a firm believer that the computer is one step removed from the hands on, tactile, creative and subjective process of design. In other words, I want to take you out of your comfort zone and ask of you to see the world with your right brain and not your left.

This type of creative process is really one of a personal discovery.

Assignment One:  Draw

Using the exercises in the book Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards , we will learn how to use our right brain to order to become better drawers and see the world in a different light.

Assignment Two:  Play

We will spend some time just playing with children’s building blocks and similar toys. We will go back and forth from playing to drawing the blocks to playing again following the principles for the Creative Learning Spiral set forth by Mitchel Resnick in his book Lifelong Kindergarten.

Assignment Three: Model

Create your own set of building blocks or similar toy. Decide the shape, size and material in which they are to be made. Explore the use of a different material other than wood like metal, plastic, tubes, sticks, paper etc. Use pieces that are square, rectangular, flat or thick. Try textures that are soft, hard, and prickly. Find patterns in your exploration of materials or graphics that might be helpful.

Assignment Four: Design for a Metaphor

You will be given a metaphor like:

  1. Nest/nesting
  2. Bridge/bridging

You are to research the metaphor by browsing the Internet for inspired images, stories, and poems that represent the idea of the metaphor. Take photos of things that remind you of your metaphor. Print them and put them all up on an inspiration board to have at your desk. This board can be an ongoing project. Model the metaphors. Reflect on what you have gathered and modeled for your metaphor with the class.

Assignment Five: Diagram

Draw concept diagrams that illustrate the metaphors that you have created by showing the color, light, section, floor plan and elevations of your model. Is there a grid that you can use to help with your model? Reflect on what you have done with the class.

Assignment Six: Study

Study your models and find inspiration and qualities that you want to further explore. Feel free to explore these ideas with new iterations of your model. Document the elements and principles of design that inspire you. Reflect on what you have drawn with the class.

Assignment Seven: Scale                       

Up to this point your model have been very abstract. Now it is the time to introduce scale into your designs in two different ways. Use different scaled figures. One scaled figure is to be at 1/8“ scale and the other at 1 -1/2” scale. Reflect on this exercise with the class.

Assignment Eight: Construct

Elaborate on the 1 ½” scale by building a wall. Think about how you can construct this wall for the human scale. Look at different building systems for inspiration and connecting details. How big will the final unit be? Do you have to slightly redesign your building units in order for your modular wall system to work? Draw a construction detail of your unit. Reflect on scaling up your modular building system with the class.

Assignment Nine: Prototype

Build a prototype at full scale. We will go through some prototyping methods and ideations. Think of the connections, material and structure of what you have designed. Can your modular unit incorporate some kinds of interesting technologies? Will it be easy to build with? Is it sustainable? What processes will it take to make your modular unit? Can your unit be mass produced it or is it to be hand built? Reflect on this with the class.

Recommended Readings:

1. Building Construction Illustrated, Ching, Francis D. K.

2. Lifelong Kindergarten, Mitchel Resnick

3. Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, Betty Edwards

4. Drawing- A Contemporary Approach, Claudia Betti and Teel Sale

or Creative Drawing, Howard J. Smagula

5. The Thinking Hand, Juhani Pallasmaa

6. Inventing Kindergarten, Norman Brosterman

7. Prototyping and Model Making, Bjarki Hallgrimsson

8. Design Now, Charlotte and Peter Fiell

9. Building Skins, Christian Schittich

10. Emergent Timber Technologies, Rainer Hascher

11. Transparent Plastics, Simone Jeska


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