Map of your mind

Mind maps are useful tools to explore thought processes (both finished and unfinished) like when you are stuck or in the middle of a research or design process. Allowing to grow connections fluidly will help to gain some structure by making them visible. For a recent design studio, I tried this strategy as a method for precedent studies. Below in the photo of the blackboard, I was attempting to gather and articulate, with the students the status of design mid semester (so we don’t loose of track of what was the initial intent of the semester – faculty are good at that). I just accidentally then made a small mind map on the board. I think the day before that , I read the wonderful blog by Austin Kleon on the same topic. Then later I made a better diagram of the same – became an interesting tool for the study this semester . Bhamini (studies at the end of this page) took this method to the next level in exploring this method for analysing the precedent. I have written earlier in the blog about the theme of the semester here – precedents as ‘point of entry / departure

Classroom Board – Thinking and clarifying with the students. Articulating where we are heading in the semester and what layers are priority for the studio.
This map became the framework for precedent analysis and possible routes of enquiry – the genesis of an idea – influences leading to the idea under study, how this idea influenced other projects, same idea : same architect : different manifestations, same idea : different architects : different manifestations

The particular trigger was Austin Kleon’s blog post on mind mapping (and his brilliant deliberations of creativity has a lot of his influence in the other posts of this blog too)

Below are Bhamini Mehra’s (WCFA, Batch 2019) explorations for the precedent study. The project under study was Bishop Edward King Chapel, Oxford by Níall McLaughlin Architects. The project had deep theoretical connections and material explorations. Bhamini carefully peeled all the layers using the mind map method, revealing and articulating the analysis.

Here is the complete analysis :

Click on the images to enlarge.

Scalar Comparison

Understanding and modulating scale is one of the fundamental acts in design. Particularly while teaching in design studios, i am looking for tools and methods which can help modulate scale. This simple method of drawing different projects in the same scale has immense potential. I feel this tool is underused. Putting them together digitally has made it much easier. Just imagine pre-computer days, where one had to draw them to scale again or take scaled photocopies (and struggling with the copier to assign different percentages). I usually have the habit of drawing the room (say like 12′ x 18′ room) in which I am making the drawing in the same scale as the drawing I am working (say 1:100) to get better sense of space i am designing. I feel the responsibility of any conceptual idea is to modulate scale first. Chipperfield brilliantly notes in Theoretical Practice that scale and time are the biggest challenges of our profession. Here i have selected some drawings which uses this method effectively.

This brilliant drawing is from Henri Stielin’s book Architecture of the World: India. This drawing was a revelation – i have never been to Gol Gumbaz, but looks like Pantheon (with some diet) can fit inside Gol Gumbaz. I can sense the scale of the buiding i have not visited (Gumbaz here) through a building i have visited (Pantheon). Taj Mahal’s has an exaggerated exterior form (by the means of the double dome) compared to relatively smaller interior volume, but its presence is as monumental as the Pantheon or the Gumbaz.

Form, Space and Order : D K Ching

Prof. Kulbhushan Jain uses this method consistently in almost all his books. This drawing is from Architecture Conceptual to the Manifest. In this case when both the scale and the orientation are consistent, the reading of the project gets more sharper.

Residential Design : Maureen Mitton and Courtney Nystuen. This method is also effective at much smaller scale. When I refer this book for toilet design, I notice even a 6″ difference can make significant impact on design of such tight programs.

Rahul Mehrotra used this comparative diagram (In a TED Talk) by overlapping a 30 area of Kumbh Mela over the map of Manhattan to make the point of the largeness of the temporary city of Kumbh Mela.

Le Corbusier Redrawn : The Houses by Steven Park. This book has drawings (plans, sections, elevations) with brilliant cut views of all the houses designed and built by Corbusier. All of them at 1:200! – and it is deep diving experience reading this book. Villa Sarabhai is one of the few project which covers both the spreads : )

At one the of studios we tried to print all the case studies in the same scale (I think it was 1:500). It was very revealing. And we made a site plan with a hole in it at 1:500 scale to overlap against these drawings to get a sense of the scale.

(Drawing Credit : Bhamini Mehra)

Again in one of the studios we tried to overlap the precedent we were studying (Niall McLaughlin’s Bishop Edward King Chapel) on the site at Srirangapatna. We didn’t realise the scale of the precedent till then, the project (at least the main chapel) will fit in any ubiquitous 60’x40′ site in India. There are no small projects in architecture.

In this study for adaptive reuse of the iconic Central Beheer, Herman Hertberger’s office is trying to understand the different program possibilities and configurations for the 9m x 9m grid. It can also become an independent study of how a certain fixed area (50 sqm here) or a grid pattern (9m x 9m) can cater to different programs. We can test different possibilities to suit the site and program requirements at hand in design.

Why Density? – Debunking the Myth of the Cubic Watermelon. Here the same method is used for exploring the different massing strategies. A three dimensional comparative method.

Diagrams – Theory 1

Here are some diagrams the students made for the Theory 1 (Sem 3) course. We discuss the basic ordering principles this semester. Each A4 poster had to explain an idea/ ordering principle supported with 2D, 3D diagrams and supporting text explaining the intent.

Credits on each page, Batch 2019 , Semester 3, WCFA

Here are few more from the class :

Here is one of the drawings we referred for this assignment. A brilliant drawing from Richard Green from Yale

Semester 6 – Institution

In continuation to the previous post on framework for the brief of Semester 6, here is the attempt by Agni to respond to that enquiry. Agni explored both the possibilities of the grid in plan and section to create social spaces of different scale within the built form. The circulation smartly navigated the mixed use program enhancing and revealing the qualities of the publicness. And each of these spaces were were made distinct by the degrees (materiality, translucency) of the enclosure.

Student : Agni S Gangadkar (WCFA Batch 2018)
Faculty : Kiran Kumar R and Suren Aalone

Here is the complete project :