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ARC201: How to Design Almost Nothing

These images were created by undergraduate architecture students for "ARC201: How to Design Almost Nothing."

Each student was asked to choose a word, then use that word as a theme for a series of design projects. The course's final project was a design for a study building for university students.

Siena Buzzelli

Siena's word was "resonance."

"The oscillating, cavernous spaces in my design shape different types of study areas for students," she writes. "Wood panelling will promote quiet study and focus due to its sound absorbing qualities. My design is meant to evoke a physical representation of resonance while simultaneously absorbing the movement of sound."

(Instructor: Nuria Montblanch)


John Wu

John's word was "dreamlike."

"There are not many study spaces for music or theatre students," he writes. "This building is for them. The formal and spatial qualities of each space reflects the theatricality of their arts ... The entire building can be imagined as a giant theatre set for outsiders, but each space within can be seen as an individual set, too."

(Instructor: Nuria Montblanch)


Soroush Ehsani-Yeganeh

Soroush's word was "disorientation."

"Excluding the main staircase from the interior space is the primary disorienting aspect of the final design," he writes. "This setting doesn't allow the visitors to comprehend the circulation paths to the upper floors and provides a new experience in the space. Specific built-in furniture was designed for each study space to define its unique quality."

(Instructor: Nuria Montblanch)


Georgia Sa

"I decided to explore the word 'undulation' and the juxtaposition between curvilinear and rigid geometric forms," Georgia writes. "This contrast is the driving concept in my design. The eight interior spaces created from this undulation and contrast increase in privacy as the user goes up the building, from group study to private cubicle study."

(Instructor: Nuria Montblanch)


Hannah Moslemy

Hannah's word was "obstruction."

"For my final project, I kept the interior obstructions at a minimum, and focused my exploration of obstruction around the facade," she writes. "With this facade study, I used a series of panels to block and hinder views and light entry. By positioning these panels at different angles and spacings, I was able to manipulate the gaze of the viewer, as well as the path of sunlight that enters the building, in order to create a bright, yet focused study space on campus."

(Instructor: Nuria Montblanch)


Christopher Law

"Throughout my ARC201 final project, I wanted to encapsulate the feeling of density when a person enters the cloud-like atmospheric structure," Christopher writes. "The grid structure creates a sense of enclosure yet displays openness and transparency."

(Instructor: Fiona Lim Tung)


Perry Wang

"My project aims to create varying spaces while also resonating a sense of consistency," Perry writes. "By cascading just one geometric shape with fixed variables, it facilitates a natural and intuitive circulation pattern, while also offering moments of pause, dedicated to reflection and practical use."

(Instructor: Fiona Lim Tung)


Iris Li

Iris's word was "transform."

"For the final project, I applied frames to created a mostly free-programmed space for students to relax and study," she writes. "The transformed frames contribute as forming habitable space, as well as providing paths for circulation."

(Instructor: Fiona Lim Tung)


Erela Chan

Erela's word was "peel."

"I decided to peel flat surfaces into undulating ribbons that would form enclosures, which I've designated as study rooms," she writes. "I made peels at different heights so that some would form staircases, walls, and ceilings, while others would form benches or desks. My intent is for students to feel at ease in a calm environment full of flowing forms."

(Instructor: Fiona Lim Tung)


Teresa Chen

"The theme of the work is 'stacking,'" Teresa writes. "This project explores how spaces and openings are created through the technique of stacking identical wood beams, thus creating variety of experiences throughout the building."

(Instructor: Fiona Lim Tung)


Sally Chiu

Sally's word was "fluctuation."

"My design for a new student centre consists of four S-shaped curves that differ in size to create study spaces of various heights and depths," she writes. "The curves interlock to form a continuous loop. Due to their shape, visitors will constantly be changing direction as they move through the building. The building’s stairs are all concealed within the middle portion of each 'S,' and each curve begins and ends with an open study space."

(Instructor: Anne Ma)


Ki Bum Kim

"This project embodies the fold," Ki Bum writes. "Through the process of folding, planes envelop newly formed study spaces, providing private enclosures for students to enjoy."

(Instructor: Anne Ma)


Jasmine Li

Jasmine's word was "flow."

"Inspired by SANAA’s Rolex Learning Centre, I made wavelike ceilings to conform to the flow in the vertical dimension," she writes. "The stairs are internalized to keep the continuous flow in exterior form and interior circulation."

(Instructor: Anne Ma)


Diana Tennier

Diana's words were "ensconce" and "extract."

"The design follows a series of rules, indicating the difference between partially enclosed stairwells, fully enclosed hallways, and open work space by extracting material, creating variously sized rooms," Diana writes. "Horizontally stacked floor plates surround each stairwell, providing a feeling of concealment, as one can glance through the small gaps between the floors before arriving at a brightly lit study space. All of the hallways are fully enclosed with no natural light, in contrast to the study spaces, which have at least one glass wall touching the facade of the building, allowing natural light to enter."

(Instructor: Anne Ma)


Yuhan Zhang

"My project is about experiencing the polygonal spaces and forms in architectural design," Yuhan writes. "Through the separation of seven spaces, people can freely go and stay in different rooms."

(Instructor: Anne Ma)