What are the design tools preferred by Architecture & Graphical design students ?

In the second stage of our observational study into Architectural and Graphical design students, we looked at the various design tools preferred by the students and the impact that had at each stage of the Project's design and development. What he have observed is that once in the developmental stages of a concept, the students tended to run into various problems in planning; for example achieving a centralised circulation for zones.

Problem-solving alters design moves and challenges the
initial hierarchial choices that are made in order to create a resolved proposal.
The common design tools in both projects are model-making, which
has been observed as an efficient tool in problem-solving, especially in
the latter stages of the project. By testing their ideas in a physical model, it is
easier for the students to understand the design spatially and visualise
what works and what does not work, and how best to adapt it. There is a cyclic
method of working during the design of project. The design tools were
reused at various stages to offer the best progression for the design. In
the early stages of Architectural education, the design tools are often
prescribed by the tutors. Their guidance is used to inform and develop
the student’s way of thinking.

During the Site Analysis stage precedents are predominantly used to
inspire ideas for the project; notes and sketching are tools used to interrogate
the site and understand the brief. Moving into Concept, students
began visualising their ideas and responses to the site through sketching
and scale drawings. Developing the designs, precedent studies were
encouraged by the Tutor/TA so that the students could understand how
an Architect actually provides a spatial response using precedents to
influence their design considerations. Students had used precedents in
early projects (Autumn Term) but had not interrogated them in a way that
could inform their own projects other than aesthetically; not only used as
an aesthetic device but to resolve ideas.

For the Inter-crit, the students began exploring their designs in physical
models but also as a tool to resolve problems, resulting in a change in hierarchy.
Being able to see where the design is not working is often more
useful than seeing the successes of it as it allows one to make more
informed and justifiable moves.

Using multiple tools at this stage encouraged them to become more
engaged in their projects, gaining spatial understanding. More students
began using new tools, especially 2D digital modelling in photoshop which was very few at the start of the project, and non-existent in the Autumn Term. After the
Inter-crit saw a return to note making and sketching as students began to
re-work their designs based on feedback. This step allowed them to deal
with criticism but also develop their own critical thinking by agreeing or
disagreeing with the tutors. The use of different tools at progressive stages
of the project allow students to renegotiate their priorities and impact
their next moves. Another problem solving device has been the use of
precedent studies.