500 Square Feet: Architectural Assemblies in Detail

ARCH 571 | Spring 2013
Associate Professor Scott Murray

The title of this studio refers to the floor area of the projects we will be designing this semester. Focusing on relatively small-scale buildings will allow us to explore the details of architectural assemblies in depth, delving into issues of materiality, fabrication, construction, and resultant experiential qualities. We will explore the potential of small spaces to make a big impact. Students will learn to think holistically about design and construction and demonstrate this ability through a series of detailed models and drawings.

The semester will begin with in-depth analyses of recent examples of small-scale architectural constructions, as well as research into materials and assemblies. These initial explorations will be undertaken in small teams and will take the form of large-scaled, detailed physical models and analytical drawings. This research will be followed by the primary design project, which will be conducted individually and will comprise the majority of the semester. The design process and final outcomes will focus on detailed assemblies of structure and skin and on the quality of the spaces created by them.

Each design project in the studio will be unique; each student will develop a proposal for his or her project’s program and site, and will be expected to present a cogent argument for the need for a particular building type at a specific location. Examples might include a residence, a wi-fi hotspot, an observation tower, a chapel, a branch library, a restaurant, a retail space, or a performance venue. Projects may be either mobile or permanently sited, anywhere in the world. Buildings may be designed for prefabrication or on-site construction. Primary constraints include a maximum floor area of 500 square feet and the use of a metal or timber structural frame.

Students will work simultaneously at the scales of the site, the building, and construction details. Projects will be developed and presented through iterative, large-scale physical models (at a scale of 1” = 1’-0” and larger) as well as perspectives, diagrams, and large-scale technical detail drawings.