Reflecting on My Design Theory
[Figure 1: My All-Encompassing Design Proposal for Princes Street Gardens]
Four years studying for a Bachelor of Architectural Science, two total years of practicing in the architecture field, and one (and a bit) years of studying for a Master of Architecture (with a minor in Urban Design). So, what have I learnt? I certainly have experienced the sleepless nights, the harsh critiques, the computer and printer malfunctions. I have also discovered how to learn, how to think critically, how to problem solve. Most prominently, I have slowly evolved my own design theory.
Forming a Design Theory Foundation
There have been various influential architects along the way. With each comes a unique philosophy:
Bernard Tschumi: Deconstructivism
“I would like people in general, and not only architects, to understand that architecture is not only what it looks like, but also what happens in it.” (Mun-Delsalle, para. 1)
Herzog & de Meuron: Perception through Experimentation with Materials
“People have lost their sense of direction; everything has become a question of perception, association and perspective. The boundary between real and virtual is utterly blurred, making even experience and memory unreliable factors.” (Mack, p. 79)
Kengo Kuma: Nature Based Contextual Integration
“We should create a building that is a symbol of a new age, a new period of natural design.” (Maher, para. 9)
Through each step I have analysed the various design approaches of these experts in the field to ultimately attempt to figure out my own. This post represents the first time I am collecting my thoughts, words, and images in one place to lay out my design theory…so far. I have been left in awe at how much of an impact my friends, my colleagues, and my professors have had on my architecture career to date.
In hindsight, I realize that going into Architecture school I had no clue what architecture was. My first year started with drawings and physical models and concluded with 3-D computer generated models and renders. My courses ranged from design studio, to structures, to architectural history. It was at this point where I got my first grasp of the true breadth of architecture. It was also in first year when one of my professors, Jurij Leshchyshyn, introduced the following quote by GK Cherterton:
“There is a law written in the darkest Books of Life, and it is this: If you look at a thing nine hundred and ninety-nine times, you are perfectly safe; if you look at it the thousandth time, you are in frightful danger of seeing it for the first time.” (Bouquet, para. 2)
I didn’t realize it in the moment, but this quote slowly became a large part of my design theory as I progressed through my academic years. It outlines the infinite number of perspectives that can be shared on a single form or piece of architecture. For me, this meant that I would need to seek knowledge not only from experts in the architecture field, but from every single aspect of daily life.
Thinking Outside of Architecture
I have decided to introduce my design theory in this manner since my current thought processes stem from the continuous discovery of new theories, concepts, perspectives, ideas, and possibilities. As a result, I have found that my occupations outside the architecture field (at a bar, restaurant, pub, retail store, and logistics company) have been just as valuable as what I have learnt in academia and practice. It can therefore be understood where my developed interest in the all-encompassing principles of urban design originates from. As an example, in my undergrad I came up with the simplistic mantra of designing cohesively for people, nature, and architecture. Each approach must carefully consider the intermingles relationships of the three entities. [Figure 5: Ruby SOHO – Bar I Worked at in Toronto]
How Do I Design?
Recently, I have made a conscious effort to observe my design process to better understand where my design theory has grown. Typically, I will begin a project by thoroughly examining the site, ensuring I notice every little detail. I want to know how people use the site, how nature inhabits the site. I seek historic background knowledge and focus on where architecture may intervene or coexist on the site. I then turn to sketches and countless notes and checklists, consuming my well-used sketchbook. I follow with computer-generated three-dimensional models and my favourite, physical models. I continue with research and site visits and conclude with deeply communicative graphics.
[Figure 6: 3-D Printed Model Atop Moulded Basalt Base]
[Figure 7: My Computer Generated Graphic Depicting the Assembly Process of a Functionally Designed Responsive Apparatus]
People, Nature, & Architecture
Thus, I can deduce that my primary goal is to discover and create harmonious spaces through a thorough analysis endeavour. I lean on my strengths – understanding people, extreme attention to detail, innovative solutions – to continue to learn and grow. With that in mind, I will concede that I struggle with filling my mind with countless ideas coming from many different directions. My goal moving forward is to attempt to find strategies to further clarify my thoughts. Something that this post will hopefully help me begin to do.
Boquet, F. S. J. (2021, June 8). The Blessings of ‘Ordinary’ Children. Human Life International. Retrieved November 16, 2022, from https://www.hli.org/2019/07/blessings-of-ordinary-children/
Mack, G. (2008). Herzog & de Meuron 1997-2001: The complete works. Birkhäuser.
Maher, D. M. (2019, June 17). “We should create a building that’s a symbol of a new age”: Kengo Kuma in conversation with It’s Nice That. It’s Nice That. Retrieved November 16, 2022, from https://www.itsnicethat.com/features/kengo-kuma-in-conversation-architecture-170619
Mun-Delsalle, Y.-J. (2015, September 18). Bernard Tschumi’s Architecture Is Not Just About Space And Form But Also The Events Happening Inside. Forbes. Retrieved November 15, 2022, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/yjeanmundelsalle/2015/09/07/bernard-tschumis-architecture-is-not-just-about-space-and-form-but-also-the-events-happening-inside/?sh=1e052d5b7605
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