Friday, August 19, 2005

Thesis Studio

Beginning the Diploma Project

The fifth-year Diploma Studio Project is divided into two distinct semesters, but ultimately seamless design and presentation of a project chosen by the student. The project must be relevant to the student's interest, the Architecture Department’s Mission Statement, and the Architecture Department’s commitment to NAAB criteria.
The Fall Semester effort is dedicated to defining the Thesis, Research, Programming and Preliminary Site and Building Design.
The Spring Semester effort is dedicated to: Detailed Site and Building Design.
The following information is intended as a guide and overview for the seamless effort of the Diploma Studio Project.
Part I : The Diploma Project Process
Part II : The Faculty’s Concerns as to Thesis and Typology (i.e. “interface with the published SOA Mission and NAAB criteria)
Part III : Diploma Project Proposal
Part IV : Organization of Diploma Studio Work and Documentation
Part V : Diploma Project Scholarship
Part VI : Diploma Project Book Layout and Documentation Guide
Part I: The Diploma Project Process
Four Crucial Steps for a Successful Beginning of the Diploma Studio Project
1. Establish a Thesis.
2. Determine a Building or Project Typology (the building or project type is the “vehicle” to advance the position taken in the Thesis).
3. Secure timely faculty approval and support of the Thesis and Typology.
4. After faculty approval and before beginning Schematic Design, formulate an architectural Concept (the concept is project-specific, and therefore is formulated after the selection of the typology (building or project).
Before establishing a Thesis , first, understand the fundamental difference in Thesis and Concept.
Thesis: Literally Greek for the act of laying down . The thesis is an intellectual position laid down or to be advanced. It is the first stage of the dialectic – discussion and reasoning by dialogue as a method of intellectual investigation. In architectural design , our method of reasoning and dialogue is physical design .
Concept: The generic definition of “concept” is similar to thesis in that concept is an intellectual idea generated from particular circumstances, but an architectural concept is embraced and interpreted within the discipline of architecture . The architectural concept is an architectonic interpreter of the thesis. It is the conceptualized physical design precepts, ideas, and principles that will support the investigation of the thesis.
A very simple example : Suppose a thesis as simple as continuous perception of the natural world is critically important to the workplace . That is an intellectual, albeit simple, position to be advanced. An architectural concept to support this thesis might simply be the organization of all workspaces to face the sun and absorb prevailing winds at all times of the workday . Again, simple, but the concept says something about physical design, whereas the thesis states an intellectual position.
By identifying an intellectual architectural thesis (a position to be advanced) and a supporting architectural concept, we clarify the subtle, but important, differences in the two types of ideas. An intellectual investigation based upon a position taken (thesis) generally needs another layer of interpretation – the architectural concept – since architects design with form and space, not with literature. If we designed with literature, we probably could deal with a thesis directly, since it is a word to word translation. Yet in the discipline of architecture, the Concept facilitates the articulation of a thesis to physical design.
The following are some examples of Thesis Statements and Concepts from an earlier studio. The project was an Architectural Office in Midtown Atlanta.
Example 1
Thesis : There can be a positive coexistence of formalism (objectivity) and the best qualities of street architecture in the urban context.
Concept : One aspect of the architect’s making of an object, often is, objectivity itself – or formalism. The investigation here concerns the apparent paradox of the civic responsibility of designing good street architecture, as in the Jane Jacobs tradition of nourishing the street , while satisfying the desire for object-making. A guiding principle of the design must be that all form and space-making must, of course, facilitate the program, yet be fully informed by the street architecture. In turn, the forms and space at the street should inform the objects.
Example 2
Thesis : The imposition of an implied kinetic architecture can create an interactive civic focus .
Concept : This project focuses on the potential of structure as an attractor to a civic space and mid-block pedestrian passage. Natural world phenomenon such as sun, shade, and shadow are utilized to imply a motion, dynamic, or kinetic aspect in order to intrigue, please, and attract civic patrons. Building forms are arranged in a manner sensitive to the orthographic order of the existing context, with major emphasis on the order of the street. The building’s structure – both primary and secondary – are certainly coordinated with the building massing, yet is organized in such a way to allow a degree of separation from the massing in order to facilitate this kinetic effect and focus on the civic space of the site.
Example 3
Thesis : The vernacular and regional device of the “porch,” used in the modernist tradition, can be a facilitator of form-making, space-making, and socialization.
Concept : The idea of the porch (specifically, the southern porch) was investigated not only as to its form, but also its meaning and relationship to the street. The design challenge here is to incorporate/translate the regional qualities of the porch in a meaningful way to this project type in order to evoke the feeling, memories, and meanings of “porch” – both at the project’s exterior and, as importantly, the interior. Spatial arrangements and form-making of the regional porch were analytically considered, yet much of the “feeling” of porch is more ethereal. For example, the “membrane” between “porch” exterior and interior was discovered to be crucial, yet difficult to define analytically. This membrane becomes an important project design feature and its “diffusion” between exterior and interior is consistent with the “idea of porch”. This “diffusion” is implemented by utilizing filtering, screening, and other design devices that reduce the opacity of the form and provide for interesting and less abrupt transitions between interior and exterior.
Example 4
Thesis : The normative zoning precept of “mixed use” can be utilized as a primary form-giver, space-generator, and most importantly, can be a statement of sustainability.
Concept : Three factors were instrumental in the conceptualization of this project. 1) The virtues of mixed-use zoning at both the urban scale and the individual project scale, 2) the use of a variety of visual and spatial experiences to positively impact the urban patron, and 3) the emerging ideology that a building may be more sustainable if it is, in effect, less “use-specific” in terms of design. Concerning these factors, this design not only acknowledges the traditional precept of a building form responding to function, but stimulates another level of investigation. Specifically, the site context – the buildings, streets, patron activity, and natural world phenomenon – as “shapers” of the building aesthetic and site development. These factors will likely have a longer relationship with the building than the general short life of any particular occupancy. The project design, in fact, supports a kind of “controlled ambiguity” consistent with the context of the area.
Part II: The Faculty’s Concerns as to Thesis and Typology
School of Architecture Mission Statement and NAAB Criteria
The faculty must be certain there is an interface with the published SOA Mission and NAAB criteria.
MISSION (NAAB Criteria states that individual programs of Architecture must have a clear mission and projects must be in accordance with that mission).
The Mission Statement of the Architecture Program of Southern Polytechnic:
The Architecture program fosters invention, creativity, and craft through hands-on exploration, the foundation of technology. Moreover, the knowledge of cultural diversity, communication, history, and criticism is inseparable from the application of technology. This process is the making of architecture .
Therefore, the SOA faculty must assure that the student must demonstrate:
• the realization that materials, technical systems, and methods of construction of a design project should be as unique and intrinsic to the project as their subjective aesthetic solution.
• the ability to constantly search for new potential for existing building materials and push forward the frontiers of technology as well as being involved in the very physical nature of prototyping and construction.
• the ability to create an architecture that is shaped not just by function and technology but also by the people and their behavior, by the place and its traditions, and by an urge to settle into, and integrate with, the surroundings and the natural environment.
• the ability to create beauty through meticulous studies into the potential of each “piece” to realize the potential of the whole.
• the ability to craft meticulous studies of each “piece” in the form of large scale models.
• an understanding and concern for sustainable architecture.
• through attentive listening, the ability to create an architecture that clearly demonstrates the client or user and the community’s participation in determining design goals rather than an architecture that alone imposes a distinctive personal idiom.
• the realization that architecture is the making of things, it requires a balance of science and craft, head and hand, experiment and memory; and that it is not necessary for technology to be incompatible with history or nature.
The Faculty strongly believes the design of habitable space is the most effective vehicle for demonstration of our program’s mission.


Blogger Katrina said...

Do you have an Rss feed to subscribe to. If can ever get my aggregator to work I'll be set. It may be because I'm spending so much time reading about ##KEYWORD## . It's been an obsession for the last year now. Sorry, I'm thinking aloud and probably boring you with prototyping thoughts.

8:04 PM  
Blogger Katbo said...

Great info. I've now subscribed to your blog feed so I can access it from my prototyping site. I should make it easier to read when I'm busy. Thanks.

8:59 AM  
Blogger Katrina said...

I can't wait until I install my rss reader so I can subscribe to this blog. I'll have to finish building my rapid prototyping tooling site first so that I'll have a place to install the feed. Prototyping is my hobby.

6:51 PM  
Blogger Katbo said...

Great info. I've now subscribed to your blog feed so I can access it from my sheet metal prototyping site. I should make it easier to read when I'm busy. Thanks.

8:07 PM  
Blogger Katbo said...

Great info. I've now subscribed to your blog feed so I can access it from my sheet metal prototyping site. I should make it easier to read when I'm busy. Thanks.

10:22 PM  

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