The project aims to equip architecture students with the concepts and methods of spatial cognition, in order to inform their design studio work with evidence-based design. We developed a toolbox kit for applying methods from the field of spatial cognition in design studio projects.
The project aims to equip architecture students with the concepts and methods of spatial cognition, in order to inform their design studio work with evidence-based design. It was a trans-faculty teaching initiative run between the Chair of Cognitive Science (Prof. Christoph Hoelscher) at D-GESS and the Chair of Architecture and Urban Design (Prof. Kees Christiaanse) at D-ARCH.
We developed a toolbox kit for applying methods from the field of spatial cognition in design studio projects, including space syntax methods such as network analysis, visibility analysis, but also other tailored methods such as real-world behavioural observations, and user experience questionnaires. Students gained new insights into their design projects through the methods introduced as part of the collaboration. Over 4 semesters, the teaching assistants tackled the different challenges that each new studio brought. The project was realised using a range of approaches: lectures, workshops, demos of software, and group tutorials.
The feedback on the project was positive: students reported that the collaboration was helpful for them to evaluate and adapt design interventions.
The key to the successful implementation of the cognitive science toolkit in the urban design studio was the close collaboration between the two Institutes, as well as the selection of the appropriate methods for each specific project. The timing of the input during the semester was a critical factor, and changed from semester to semester. One-to-one tutorials were very helpful, to help the students implement the new methods and interpret the results.
As a result of the project, a set of tutorials has been generated and are ready to be used by other design studios.
Another outcome was the realisation that the implementation of the toolkit, introduced as part of the collaboration, proved to be a challenge within the time-limits of a semester studio. So we set up an independent course module within D-GESS tailored for design studio students called «Evidence-based design. Methods and Tools for Evaluating Architectural Design» where students get the chance to implement the toolkit have developed on a case study of their choice (such as their current design studio project).
We hope to be able to adapt and improve the toolbox kit in future collborations between D-GESS and D-ARCH.