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Animated Inquiry of the Physical Construct

  • Temple University 1801 N Broad Street Philadelphia, PA 19122 USA (map)

The creation of a design sequence that facilitates the unencumbered instigation of a true creative process can be manifested through the exchange of modes of inquiry between two-dimensional and three-dimensional spatial constructs and analog and digital assemblies. It is this iterative, flexible stream of production that strives to develop a facile and nimble designer who understands both what they are doing and why they are doing it: simultaneously thinking and making.

The exploration into the development of a problem designed to create the situation where students are actively making and actively thinking through the making is a challenging objective. Critical thinking is often said to be manifested in the outcome of the work; how can we visibly communicate this process of thinking? It is a particularly difficult objective to measure. How do you measure curiosity, creativity or critical thinking? How can this type of work be visually communicated?

When we ask students to be reflective, to think about what they are doing or making, it often happens at the conclusion of a design process at a time where the work is complete. This reflection could be at the end of an assignment or at the conclusion of a spurt of productivity.  In either case, the thinking happens after the doing or the making. This paper seeks to set the framework for a pedagogy developed for the foundation design sequence at Auburn University’s School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture that embeds both thinking a making in the design problem to be directly visualized through the design process of the assigned work. The work is visually demonstrated to be both reflective and productive.

The process of such an assignment requires moving students from the absolute beginning of their design education through a series of assignments that are unfamiliar to them in visualization, creation and thought. The project moves through two dimensional spatial studies designed and fabricated through analog methods and then translated and collided in a three dimensional digital model. This translation between analog and digital, two-dimensional and three-dimensional methods encourages understanding between direct spatial translations. The digital model is then transformed again as it is further developed through analog assembly methods.

The thinking and making construct or method is further explored through the photographic documentation of the physical assembly of the three dimensional model. Students are instructed to design the visual representation of their respective construction methods through stop motion and time-lapse animations. This reflective film-making during the process of physically assembling the three dimensional object forces a reflective mode of work during the process of the work. Students must be able to visually articulate in their stop-motion and time-lapse animations, the breadth of their understanding of the design and assembly of their respective constructs.

These methods of production—actively thinking, making and visually representing this process—are decidedly complex for the beginning design student but it is this complexity that initiates an understanding of the intricacy of the design process.