module specification

AR7064 - Technologies for Architecture and Urbanism (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title Technologies for Architecture and Urbanism
Module level Masters (07)
Credit rating for module 40
School The Sir John Cass School of Art, Architecture and Design (The Cass)
Total study hours 400
220 hours Guided independent study
180 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 20%   Digital notebook (Block 2: Digital Studies) Autumn
Coursework 10%   Digital notebook (Block 1: Urban Studies) Spring
Coursework 30%   Digital notebook: Block 3: building technologies) Spring
Coursework 10%   Mapping Diagrams (Spring)
Coursework 30%   Project Design Detailing
Running in 2017/18 No instances running in the year

Module summary

The module asks students to develop and demonstrate key technical and digital skills for architecture and urbanism

Module aims

The module (which runs across Semester A and B) asks students to develop an understanding of the ways in which contemporary digital  and building technologies can support their design development and presentation work. This is in 3 key areas:

- Urban mapping, analysis and representation;
- Visualization, simulation, testing and form-finding in architectural and urban design development
- Design structure, construction, environment, detailing and performance

The module provides students with an intensive and deep introduction into the modelling of 3-dimensional space at the level of both the city and the building.  It examines the selection of, and appropriate use of, different digital technologies to map, analyse, form-find, test and manage aspects of the design process; and of building technologies in enhancing the design and performance of architecture.

This subject is examined through three sequential blocks, through lectures and a series of intensive, practical workshops (both physical and virtual) exploring prototyping, testing and presentation.

The module therefore aims to develop students' :
- understanding of, and practice in, key technical and digital skills which support their design activities
- ability to capture, and reflect on, their own design work through the medium of the process diary
- use relevant technical skills as part of their research, experimentation, design development and communication
-  ability to integrate the developing technical and digital skills  with their own studio project work


Block 1: the science of the city
The module will introduce students to the field of urban design and city planning as it has developed over the last 150 years. It will focus on the evolution of key ideas and their implementation throughout the world. The research component of the course will ask students to consider the impact of these ideas on urban planning in Russia, to identify and analyse specific examples that represent a particular period of planning history or a particular idea in urban design, to analyse and represent these examples. Comparative analysis of urban forms and phenomena will assist students in establishing an operational vocabulary of urban design and equip them with the tools and methods necessary in professional practice. Key operational terms, which will explored through digital, drawn and physical  techniques are:
•Morphology of urban fabric
•Street and building typology
•Density and connectivity
•Land use planning, zoning and building codes
•Public space and landscape
•Transportation systems
•Urban and regional ecologies
•Water, sewage and sanitation
•Mapping as representation of the city

Block 2: digital techniques for design form-finding, modeling and representation
The second study block develops students understanding of, and practice in, key digital technologies for computer-based architectural design. Learning and teaching sessions will contain small theoretical lectures and group discussions, followed by computer-lab based workshops. The syllabus includes:
• The study of the different 3D-modeling technologies (meshes, NURBS, direct modeling, parametric modeling)
• The discussion of the role of digital technologies in contemporary theoretical discourse and design practice
• The study of the principles of a building information modeling using 2D and 3D CAD systems, BIM software
• The development of the collaboration, information management and communication process using cloud-based services and OS means
• The study of the environmental and structural performance of the design using digital simulation packages
• The study of the representational techniques using rendering and graphical software packages

Packages taught may include for CAD: Autodesk AutoCAD 2012:  for 3D modeling: BIM, environmental simulation, conceptual 3D packages, rendering; Autodesk 3ds Max 2012, Autodesk Revit Architecture 2012, Autodesk Ecotect Analysis, Rhinoceros 3D 4 (+ Grasshopper  + necessary plugins), SketchUp Pro 8, Vray.2.00.02: for Layout making, design of publications, presentations, graphic design, Adobe InDesign CS5, Adobe Photoshop CS5, Adobe AfterEffects CS5, Adobe Illustrator CS5 and LayOut 3.

Block 3; design structure, construction, environment, detailing and performance
The intention of the block is to teach students the basic physical realities which need to be respected in architectural design and explain how to get support from design engineers while working on architectural solutions. In other words – what questions the architect should ask to get right answers from those who are supposed to support him/her. This skill is necessary to turn a project, in a very broad sense, into a success. The main components of the module will deal with the review and discussion of the following, together with developing understanding and use of appropriate physical and digital techniques for design development and testing:
a)materials, b)structures and buildability, c)provision of building services, d)environmental issues and sustainability, e)logic of the design process and interdisciplinary design integration, f)cost control mechanisms,  g)user requirements,

The programme of study typically comprises:
1.A series of introductory lectures, typically blocks of 2 to 4 learning hours 
2.Two ‘stand-alone’ workshops in Semester A and two in Semester B based on simple structure/construction/detailing/environment/performance exercises
3.Consultancy support for A Studio design projects in Semester A and in Semester B (in support of the parallel module Design Process and Proposal) in architectural technologies.
There is an emphasis throughout on recording and critically analyzing work-in-progress. Progression through the module will lead to the integration of knowledge and understanding gained into the Year 2 (Level 7) design project(s), particularly informing the combination of an Integrated Design Study with the Major Thesis Design Project.


Learning and teaching

All 3 blocks will be taught through series of lectures and modelling seminars/ workshops. In addition, Block 3: design structure, construction, environment, detailing and performance will include some design technology tutorials in the Studio (in support of Design Unit projects)

Lectures will cover specific syllabus topics and may act as introductions to seminars and workshops. Seminars will focus on specific topics and will require students to prepare presentations and engage in discussion and debate. Workshops will introduce the use of various digital and design techniques.

Opportunities for  personal development planning (pdp) are built into this module through the curriculum, the choice of projects/topics/tools, and the assessments that allow the student to tailor the course work around their specific interests/skills/requirements.


Learning outcomes

By completing the module the student should be able to:

1. Show understanding of the role of digital technologies in analysis and form-finding for city and architectural design
2. Demonstrate ability to integrate digital technologies into own building and urban design practice
3. Demonstrate an understanding of how to make key design decisions in the selection and use of appropriate digital technologies for different requirements
4. Understand key analytical mapping concepts in urban planning and urban design, and demonstrate their effective use in own project work
5. Demonstrate an ability to use digital techniques to study the interaction of form, placement, skin and spatial strategies in the creation of architecture, including form-finding techniques in architecture.
6. Show understanding of the framework of building information modelling (BIM) in relationship to architectural design and practice
7. Use digital technologies effectively in making choices about the selection of materials, structure and building services.
8.Understand the environmental constraints in achieving the optimal comfort, health and safety in the designed building: and demonstrate use of digital simulations of performance criteria: thermal, acoustic and structural in the design of architecture.
9. Demonstrate an understanding of cost implications of solutions adopted, mechanisms of cost control and whole life costing.
10. Demonstrate the ability to record and reflect on their own design practices through a process diary
11. Demonstrate an integration between skills learning and their own studio design work

Assessment strategy

An emphasis is placed on the making of models both physical and digital, as learning tools and as a means of communicating ideas. The process of development is here as important as final outcomes, requiring consistent and critical visual and textual recording. The module will be assessed as follows:
Block 1:
• Digital Notebook (printable as A3 pdf) incorporating notes and analytical studies from urban planning lectures and workshops (10%)
• Large-scale analytical mapping diagrams of urban context, relevant to parallel studio design project work (10%)

Block 2:
• Digital notebook (printable as A3 pdf) incorporating exercises undertaken in workshops, with reflection on value and appropriateness of different techniques; and including diary of digital design techniques exploited for parallel design project reflecting on own processes of form-finding, simulation testing, and presentation. (20%)

Block 3:
• Digital notebook of Semester A and B stand-alone workshops (printable as A3 pdf) including precedent studies, photographs, study models and digital output, critical recording and documenting of activities (30%).

• Digital diary of a design technology development and testing as part of parallel studio design project work (printable as A3 pdf), recording the rationale behind structure/construction/detailing/environment/performance decisions (30%). 

Throughout each block, students will build up a process diary, leading to a year long visual and written record of their own development in urban studies, digital skills and technology. Overall, Block 3 - design technologies - is weighted most strongly, at 60% overall, to support students in their growth as professional architects.


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