Writing and the Architectural Thesis
The idea of a design thesis is central to architecture’s participation within an academic context. It requires a student to consciously consider an architectural project, and the act of design more generally, within a field of shared discourse in order to expand our understanding of the discipline. While a ‘thesis’ is (should be) implicit in every design, the master’s thesis in particular demands that the lineaments of a work’s scope and purpose be more precisely articulated and shared. This obligation requires discursive language, in both its verbal and written forms. An architect’s work requires verbal and written communication as a major component of realising a design. While this might be understood in largely practical terms (convincing clients, explaining intentions...) the development of one’s discursive abilities can perform a more fundamental role as well. It can help an architect refine those conversations, private or otherwise, that help to define intentions and inclinations at a broader scale. The architectural thesis foreshadows this obligation and attempts to elevate it to a more conscious level. In its most extreme form it demands that architectural design participate in the creation of knowledge itself; a challenging task though one worthy of considering as a hypothetical possibility. More simply, it serves as a useful corrective to casual whim.
There are two primary forms of ‘speech’ (verbal or written) particular to your thesis that can assist in its development and appreciation. The first is propositional. It is necessary to find a way to articulate your intentions and preoccupations in order to engage your tutor and critics, but also to explain to yourself what it is that you are most interested in exploring: the thesis question. The second is more of a summation of a work that has been done, an encapsulation of intentions, strategies, and a sense of how they have been achieved. Both forms are descriptive, though of different aspects of the work and its state of realisation. They are also complementary in that each imagines the project as a coherent whole in different ways, and from a different perspective. While they serve to explain your work to a larger audience each can also assist you in refining your work throughout the term as you develop your research in more explicitly architectural terms. Indeed these models should be imagined as a form of idealised conversation with yourself and your design work, assisting in the development of the critical imagination so crucial to the architect.
Barry Bell - 2006
In order to complete the requirements for Architectural Journalism students are expected to produce a written and illustrated explanation of their M2 Thesis. This explanation will be called an “M2 Project Description” and is composed of 2 parts:
(1) Thesis Proposition
The statement of the thesis question (what you wish to explore) and a brief outline of its theoretical context. This should be developed in a text of approximately 500 words. The Thesis proposition is a summary of the Final Thesis Description.
(2) Final Thesis Description
A restatement of the thesis intentions and a summation of the research results in terms of how the original question has been resolved (what you have done). This text, which should be approximately 1,500 words must be illustrated with architectural drawings produced over the M2 semester. This Final Thesis description should be thought of as a substitute for any verbal explanation of your work and final project. In this sense it must be both clear and comprehensive.
(3) Documentation CD Hand-in
You are required to submit 2 digital copies (CD’s) of your M2 work. One of these is to be handed into Carrie Henzie the other to the thesis coordinator.
The required format for these CD’s is as follows:
• In a folder called “Final Panels” include PDF’s of your final thesis panels. Resolution 150 dpi (full-size)
• In a folder called “Highresimages” include copies of all of the significant images to your project (both in—progress and final) in the following format (min 150 dpi, CMYK, tiffs, full size)
• In a folder called “Low resimages” include copies of all of the significant images to your project (both in progress and final) in the following format (72 dpi,RGB, JPEG, full size)
• In a folder called “M2 Project description” include a pdf of your final hand-in for architectural journalism.
Schedule + Hand-in
Both 1+2 must be posted on your website by Monday December 8th at 1700hrs at the latest. This work must be clearly indicated on your website’s splash page with a Title “Final Thesis Description” You are required to make this information clearly accessible for anyone logging into your website. The documentation CD must be handed in to the Coordinator at the completion of your final presentation on December 10,11 + 12. Meeting the December 8 deadline is critical in that it allows invited critics the opportunity to read your description before your final review.
20% - Posting Work on your website by December 8th at 1700hrs
30% - Documentation CD (handed –in on time and in the required format. Late CD’s improperly formatted automatically lose 30%) and will delay a final grade for M2 being posted.
50% - Relevance and comprehensiveness of final writing as an explanation of the M2 project. The use of images and drawings produced during the M2 semester to support the written text is also a factor in the evaluation. This evaluation will be done by your advisor.
Download a PDF (54kb) of the course outline.