Design One Syllabus

August 2, 2012

Design 01 Syllabus: Fall 2012 (.pdf file)


To develop rigorous modes of of observation and situating the human subject relative to environments. Analyzing our surroundings by developing a critical tools and methods of inquiry that serve as a foundation for design studies. Investigating issues of subjectivity, from small scale to large scale, local to global in order to develop a diverse set of design methodologies.

Project 1: Transformations (3.5 weeks)

The significance of a line and the development of systematic methods of transformation, working between line and volume. Exploring the inherent and emergent relationships between dimensions.

Project 1.1: Active Lines: Line & Volume
A single straight line is full of potential. Activating a line can be achieved through a wide array of methods. By performing operations on the line itself or by embedding a line in a specific context a line can take on different functions and meanings. This project investigates the ways in which a single straight line can transform in order to describe a given imaginary volume. Students will develop set of rules to inform the transformation of the line.

Project 1.2: Choreographing Movement and Shadows Traces
Using the volumes created in the previous step of the project, students are asked to choreograph the movement of the volume within the space of an imaginary bounding volume – a “site.” At one edge of the “site” is a single light source that projects toward the interior. The student is challenged to develop a set of rules that inform a finite series of movements within the “site.” At each stage of movement the relationship of the shadow and the volume will be registered through line drawings. The conceptual and physical relationships between volume, line, and shadow will be investigated through the dual acts of choreographing movements and line drawings.

Project 1.3: Shadow Form
A combined/cumulative drawing is to be produced from the sequential shadow drawings. Using this drawing students are asked to produce a volumetric model made out of balsa or bass wood members. The model must be able to stand on its own and rest on no more than three points. The student must develop a systematic method to determine the transformation from the two dimensional traces (palimpsest) into a self supporting volumetric model.

Recommended Reading, Related Media, and Precedents

  1. Paul Klee, Pedagogical Sketchbook, (Washington: Praeger Publishers, 1960)
  2. Cathrine Ingraham, “The Burdens of Linearity: Donkey Urbanism,” in Architecture Theory Since 1968, ed. Kenneth Frampton (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2000).
  3. Leighton Pierce, Fifty Feet of String, 16mm Film, (Independent Film, 1995).
  4. Fifty Feet of String: First Half, available at: (accessed 16 July 2012).
  5. Fifty Feet of String: Second Half, available at: (accessed 16 July 2012).
  6. Laura Coombs, “50 Feet of String: Interview with Leighton Pierce,” Millennium Film Journal 45/56 (2006), available at:
  7. Sol Lewitt, Drawing Series-Composite, Part I-IV, #1-24, 1968-2003 (New York: Dia Beacon)
  8. Casey Reas, Software Structures, “Wall Drawing #85,” “Wall Drawing #106,” “Wall Drawing # 358,” available at: (accessed 16 July 2012)
  9. László Moholy-Nagy, “Light-Space-Modulator,” available at: (accessed 16 July 2012)
  10. László Moholy-Nagy, “Moholy-Nagy’s Lichtspeil Schwarz-Weiss-Grau (Lightplay Black-White-Gray),” 1930, available at: (accessed 16 July 2012)

Project 2: Body & Space (3.5 weeks)

Project 2.1 Measurement Device (Competition)
Units of measurement were among the earliest tools invented by humans. Early societies needed rudimentary measurements for tasks like constructing dwellings of appropriate size and form, fashioning clothing, or trading goods. Early measurement systems were often based on the immediate human proportions: the size of one’s hand, foot, or the span of one’s arm.

Design a measurement device that enables the translation of the intricacies of human form into a two dimensional system of inscription.

Project 2.2 Mapping Human Movement
The human body is a complex organism that exists in an increasingly complex environment. The environment in which the human body exists is understood in the relationship between space and time. The human body and the immediate environment are, for better or worse, engaged in a symbiotic relationship that unfolds within this space-time continuum.

How can we begin to understand the intricacies of our interactions with the environment and how does this understanding challenge the way in which we view our bodies/environment?

Recommended Reading, Related Media, and Precedents

  1. François Dagognet, Etienne-Jules Marey: A Passion for the Trace, (New York: Zone Books, 1992)
  2. Matthew Barney, “Matthew Barney on the Origins of ‘Drawing Restraint’,” available at: (accessed 16 July 2012)
  3. William Forsythe, Dance Instruction, available at: (accessed 16 July 2012)
  4. Hans-Christian Adam, Eadward Muybridge: The Human and Animal Locomotion Photographs, (Cologne: Tashcen, 2010)
  5. David Michalek, Slow Dancing, available at: (accessed 16 July 2012)
  6. Lumière Brothers, “Lumière Brothers – The Serpentine Dance (c. 1899),” available at: (accessed 16 July 2012)
  7. Wim Wenders, Pina, 53 Minutes, 2011
    1. On Le Corbusier’s “Modulor” see:

    2. Le Corbusier, The Modulor and Modulor 2, (Basel: Birkhäuser Architecture, 1996)
    3. Robin Evans, The Projective Cast: Architecture and Its Three Geometries, (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1995)

Project 3: Design Games (3.5 weeks)

Strategic thinking is essential to the development of a design idea. Through the development of a conceptual infrastructure of a game – rules, constraints, kit of parts – one can establish various possibilities of play as ways of solving problems. Contrary to a common definition of “play,” that suggests limitless freedom, in order to evaluate game play rules and limitations must be introduced. However, too many rules may result in unsuccessful gameplay – stalemates. This project asks the student to consider the dialogue between a game and its rules.

Project 3.1 Game Analysis
Students analyze at least three games. The analysis must consider the rules of the game, limitations, the space of the game, play/gameplay, and logic through a series of sketches, diagrams, and notes.

Project 3.2 Game Proposal
Students, in groups of two, are asked to design a game given a limited material type and volume. This project makes use of the wood shop to build final games. This project is coordinated with Design Tools and Skills in order to maximize the in class production time of the games.

Project 3.3 Representing the Game
The games must be documented through a two dimensional spatial mapping.

Recommended Reading, Related Media, and Precedents

  1. John Habraken, et al. Concept Design Games: Book One: Developing, (Cambridge: NSF Report, June 1987)
  2. John Habraken, et al. Concept Design Games: Book Two: Playing, (Cambridge: NSF Report, June 1987)
  3. William Hubbard, “Games as a Model for an Architecture of Convention,” Complicity and Conviction: Steps Toward an Architecture of Convention. (XX: XX, 1980)
  4. Wes Jones, “Architecture Games,” Log (Spring 2010).
  5. Sanford Kwinter, “Play Time,” Architecture Design: Games of Architecture (1996)
  6. John von Neuman, Theory of Games and Economic Behavior

Hidden Room (4 weeks)

The task of this project is to design a group of five spaces, where one of the spaces appears to be hidden from the other four spaces. Aside from pragmatics of problem solving and formal investigations, this project questions the inherent rift between an embodied experience of space and the representation of space. Additionally in the act of designing a hidden room and representing a hidden room, the student is challenged to question the very definition of a “room,” the concept of enclosure, differences between visual obfuscation and physical inaccessibility, the notion of sequential movement through space, potential of discovery. Many other dualities are latent within this project: interior/exterior, open/closed, exposed/hidden, transparent/opaque, public/private.

Recommended Reading, Related Media, and Precedents

  1. Alvin Lucier, I am Sitting in a Room, Tape, 15:23, (1969) available at: (accessed 16 July 2012)
  2. Yve-Alan Bois, John Shepley, “A Picturesque Stroll around ‘Clara-Clara’,” October 29 (Summer 1984)
    Robin Evans, “Figures, Doors and Passages,” Translations from Drawing to Building and Other Essays. (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1997), 55-92.
  3. Mark Z. Danielewski, House of Leaves, (New York: Pantheon Books), 2000.