Most architectural designs begin with the development of an idea. The idea becomes the guiding force of a project and its design process. Generating leading ideas and integrating them into the design as well as sensitizing students to the spatial aspects of the process – such as material, structure, light, atmosphere, etc. – are essential skills in the architectural profession. Through the application of spatial skills and methods, ideas are articulated precisely and developed in depth.

As a specific discipline of architecture, design shapes the appearance of the world that surrounds us. One has to develop a vision of what needs to be built. Abstract thinking as well as the concrete application of ideas are the key elements of the design process.

In the first instance design exercises have the potential to free the task from the complexity of the technical, contextual and construction requirements of architecture; not in the sense of a reduction, but in the sense of a focused holistic approach to the main aspects of architectural design.

Emphasis is laid on a conceptual and experimental way of working; on projects within the studio as well as on collaborative projects. The aim is to strengthen individual creative abilities. Through a profound study of a variety of works within the field of design in general, the principles of architectural design will be investigated. The basis for an individual approach is set by the development of typologies as well as terminologies.

The architectural working process involves a wide range of skills and methods to test, experiment and process ideas. Investigating their spatial, material and tectonic nature, through sketches, visualizations, drawings, photographs and physical models in the different scales of design is crucial to a project’s success and a vital part of the teaching methodology.

Interdisciplinary projects from the intimate scale to realizations on a 1:1 scale will be part of the teaching and learning. They offer an insight to different working methods and approaches to a project. Students are encouraged to take a reflexive approach to their own work. This is effected via close cooperation between architects and students from other artistic and creative disciplines. Interdisciplinary collaborations make for a fertile exchange of ideas and working methods in a team. These ideas and methods can be adopted afterwards and enrich one’s own work. This forces the creators to interact with their own work as a user and observer.

The aim of a conceptual and fundamental approach and a collaborative way of working is a sincere engagement with design processes in architecture. Through individual projects, profound skills and experience can be acquired and comparisons of one’s own work with other projects encourage an involvement with the contemporary architectural discourse.

Chair of Architectural Design and Conception Uta Graff | Univ. Prof. Dipl. Ing. Architect BDA