Unconventional formulations in architectural curricula: An atelier on design for outer space architecture

Theories and methods of integrating digital tools into the architectural curriculum cannot be conceptualized as simply the merging of computerized tools with conventional formulations of design. This paper focuses on a case study of a workshop entitled “Mission Mars 2024: A Biomimetic Structural Organism”, as part of the studio course ARCH 202 in the spring semester of 2017 at Izmir University of Economics. It explores the use of digital architectural design tools in the context of outer space architecture, and the use of biomimicry as a design approach. We encouraged students to explore various stages of Oxman’s digital design ontology at the design level, and to employ various CAD/CAM tools as well as Virtual Re- ality (VR) and 3D representation methods. It is important to emphasise that the curriculum is a studio-based education with limited access to additional technical classes. Part of our aim was to integrate this content into the studio and allow students to explore new methods of design development. In order to free the students from conventional architectural preoccupations, we particularly chose on the surface of Mars. The paper presents a critical approach to understanding the impact of digital tools and methods on the learning outcomes of the students, which are discussed and demonstrated based on four studio outcomes.

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