If a student was looking for a positive way to approach an architecture project, then this project would make a great starting point.

This project was produced by a student on an interior and architecture course. There are many elements that students and lecturers could learn from in terms of the depth that the student goes into each area of the design cycle. This could easily be applied to any other area of art, design or media.

There are three main things that make this a really interesting case study which taught me a lot about helping students to develop mature responses:

  1. The first is the rigour that goes into each step of the design cycle. The student clearly values how each part of the design process is critical to the next. They also don’t see them as separate elements that can be done one after the other, but that the cycle is fluid and may mean moving back and forward in order to develop and refine work.
  2. The second is that this project focused on a difficult theme, redesigning something is always more difficult than starting from scratch, students need to think about the heritage and cultural traditions of the space. Having a history means the site brings a lot of issues that can have a major impact on the ideas of the designer, some of which are hard to avoid.
  3. Thirdly, the student was really willing to experiment and try different and inventive ideas with models, CAD, drawing and materials, but maintained focus on a functional design that was not dominated by a desire to make an architectural statement.


Having a clear project proposal as a starting point

It is always a great idea to get students to write their own project proposal. Even if you are setting the project title, theme and outcome for them, they will still learn a lot from thinking about the project holistically. They will be able to manage their time better, have a greater awareness of the implications and seriously develop their independence.


Using iterative research and analysis

Researching and analysing is seen as an integral part of the design process and the project moves back and forth between design and research for refinement. Each design step will bring out new creative problems to deal with and that will mean looking further into the materials, processes, function and design. The engagement with each area, such as Victorian features or use of relevant spaces and the depth that these go into demonstrates the level of awareness of how important research and analysis is. Each area is explored systematically: function of space, site plan, route, transport, primary and secondary research etc.



Taking risks during ideas generation

The student really isn’t afraid to get their hands dirty and take risks. The number of experiments and models created really shows they have an open mind towards ideas generation and will take every opportunity to respond in a personal way. This also increases the student’s ability to reflect on strengths and weaknesses of ideas. There is the confidence to take risks with unusual ideas generation processes like light drawing that the student has transferred from furniture design to architecture in a personal way.



Exploring materials manipulation

The final model demonstrates some very inventive use of materials and processes to produce forms. There are also some very intricate detailed structural and contour forms where the materials manipulation is advanced. The quality of the final plan in drawing and Vectorworks is also sophisticated. Drawing is used very well as a developmental tool and the use of materials is inventive, such as clay and tights, to explore ideas.



Synthesising ideas as part of the outcome

The outcome is highly refined through a very structured approach. It is good to see that the student is equally interested in the garden, exterior, interior, heritage and function of the project. There are clear connections between the final design and research inspiration, but the student has synthesised these in their own personal way. They have also tried to have clear connections between traditional elements and contemporary directions, which shows a sensitivity to cultural heritage. There is an attention to detail and flexibility in the response that shows a broad awareness of how the design is used.



Continual and structured reflection on progress

The evaluation of each stage is in depth and goes into detail about relevant points that need focusing on, as well as trying to justify directions taken. It is excellent to see an awareness of the benefits of feedback and that they were able to take constructive criticism well. There is a good level of reflection within the sketchbook throughout, but the summative evaluations could have focused on areas for development more.


Daniel Freaker Daniel Freaker Educational Consultant, Painter, Writer, Designer danfreaker@processfreaks.com