ARCH 110 Basic Design I


Studio Instructors: Kıvanç Kılınç, Şebnem Yücel, Bilge Göktoğan, Yasemin Oksel (Res. Assist).

The main source of inspiration for foundation design education across the world is still the Bauhaus école, which is as much celebrated as it is contested, accompanied by the quest for a universal language in design. Yet, at a time when the global is always informed by the local, coupled with recent developments in digital technologies, is it still possible to talk about a set of principles which all design disciplines would unquestionably march behind?

The basic design curriculum at Yaşar University’s Faculty of Architecture in Turkey is characterized with its “localized” approach. It is based on four main pillars: structural systems; material behavior; form/space; and environmental context. The main reason why these topics are chosen is the hope that basic design studio becomes the first step in education to overcome the lack of adequate knowledge in material behavior and inattentiveness to site and context in projects across Turkey. To this end, students work with materials of different nature, type, size, color and texture, and explore their performance as well as “situatedness.” The incentive may be local, but composition stands out as the main binding theme. Students employ a variety of methods toward achieving a “good” composition: learning by doing; experimental/intuitive; and computational/parametric/rule-based design. While computational design is a major part of the program, the analogue experience is given priority; the objective is not to teach digital design programs per se, but to learn how to mobilize them: composing, decomposing, grouping and regrouping models, forms and ideas.


2D COMPOSITION (‘MEETING MATISSE’): In this exercise students analyze a painting by Henri Matisse, “The Piano Lesson” (1916) or “Goldfish and Palette (1914)” as a composition and must identify the main ordering principles. Here the aim is to explore how to work within a given visual field and to analyze the (hierarchical) relationship between different elements that are grouped together. After identifying and grouping the elements, the next step is to the locate the main guiding lines (‘invisible lines’) which Matisse may have used in order to organize the visual field (canvas) so that individual units come together not randomly, but following a system of references. Finally, students are asked to select any number of elements from “The Piano Lesson” or “Goldfish and Palette” and with them, create a composition of their own.


2D COMPOSITION (‘SHOPPING BAG DESIGN’): In this exercise students produce their own compositional elements in order to design the front cover of a shopping bag by using free-hand abstract drawings of an object gathered from nature. Here the aim is to grasp the difference between pictorial representation (i.e., copying of actual objects) and abstract representation by achieving different degrees of abstraction. The next step is to create variations of the initial object (i.e., reproduce it in 1/2 scale, and reproduce half and quarter of the shape) and to improvise with a grid system as a background. The final step of the exercise requires the application of color so as to better group the elements and highlight the sense of balance, harmony or contrast between them.


UNIT/PATTERN/RHYTHM (‘MUSIC IN COMPOSITION’): Here the aim is to create a pattern by using identical units. These units consist of three geometric shapes: 1 triangle, 1 quadrangle and 1 curvilinear element. Students are asked to locate these three shapes within a 5×5 cm frame; the shapes should also be proportionately used and can partially overlap. The main idea is to find a balance between a pattern design, where the identity of each element can be recognized, while also bringing a series of identical, recurring elements together to create a unified expression. The final step is to turn the pattern into a ‘rhythmic composition’ by making subtle changes: creating variations of the unit they designed, using intervals between elements, and producing a sense of movement.


FINAL EXERCISE: RULE-BASED DESIGN (‘SHAPE GRAMMAR’): The aim of this final assignment is to introduce the students to a computational (rule-based) approach for design generation. In shape grammar the design process is procedural, with each new design is generated from the previous design by the repetitious implementation of certain rules. Students determine an initial geometric shape and define two sets of rules. The rules must include both addition and subtraction of geometric shapes and defer to given design parameters and constraints (such as the size and location of the initial shape). The first part of the exercise is to design a 2D composition. In time, color and texture are added as new design parameters to emphasize the main ideas (i.e. rhythm, contrast, harmony). In the second part of the exercise, the main goal is to design a 3D self-standing composition; students work with an initial form and then apply three rules to a set of solid, planar and linear elements. In this final exercise, we begin to discuss space, but not as architectural space per se: the emphasis is on a balanced solid-void relationship, structural stability of the composition and different degrees of enclosures.

Categories: Design Studio, Genel

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