How 1st year Architecture & Graphical Design Students Develop their Project ?
We recently conducted a very interesting observational study which looks into the
project Design creative process for 1st year students in Architecture and
Graphical design. We looked into 1st-Year Architecture Student’s and Graphical
Design Student’s thought process and design moves, which was based on the
priorities that they usually placed on the different design considerations. The
study is based on a single unit group of 26 1st-year students at the University of
What we found was fascinating and it allowed us to delve into the mind-set and
design decisions that students newly exposed to the area of Graphical Design
and Architecture typically make.
The observation of the study has been broken down into the following categories.
1. The Thought process
(critical thinking and informing priorities in design considerations)
2. The Design Tools used
(Aiding problem solving (Photoshop, CAD etc.), thus informing subsequent
3. The Learning outcome –
(Feedback that helps them change design at different hierarchal levels and
therefore giving their design helpful direction going forward.)
What we concluded from our observational study was as follows -
Students tend to adopt new techniques as the course and projects progress, but
usually will still revert back to the more basic skills, i.e. pen to paper, after crits to
understand and rationalise the feedback they receive in a way that they can
visualise. Often, notes and story-boarding allowed the students to re-order and
re-structure a task in order to visualise the change in priorities. The hierarchy of
the design considerations and resulting moves is constantly changing as
students accumulate new methods of learning (i.e. Photoshop, CAD, illustrator,
Grasshopper et al.), however, there is often a running theme that is kept
consistent; for example, the initial driving force is often carried through to the
end. And this is a common factor that was held high in the hierarchal order of the
design considerations across the Architectural & Graphical Design profession.
As the projects progress, the priority of design considerations fluctuates between
context, practicality and materiality, but at all of these stages students are
encouraged to use precedent studies as a learning aid to develop the factors into
a coordinated design and guide the subsequent design moves to achieve this.
Although there are elements of an Architectural & Graphical Design project which
are prescribed, students develop an intuitive understanding of how to address
the expectations through the design tools that work best for them (which we
found was mostly a good use of Photoshop). There is a level of priority that
different elements of a design take which change across projects and across
design stages. The hierarchal order is built on critical thinking; what has worked
well from previous projects and the awareness of what is expected. By adopting
self-evaluation techniques during a project, students are able to enhance their
critical thinking in order to re-evaluate their design considerations and the order
of hierarchy in order to suit them and therefore the quality of their work and time
spent on each project.