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

design moves)

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.