Thesis : Slowing Down – Exploring Food Through Space

This post is an overview of a thesis I recently guided at WCFA.

Nithyashree (WCFA, Batch 2017) comprehensively translated the initial research into design principles and spatial ideas. From the beginning, she sharply curated her intuitive sense of reading architectural space and environments into a focussed research on slowness and food. Her elegant and delicate drawing capabilities helped her carry the intricacies of slowness from an intellectual framework into an intuitive design process. I was also fascinated by her reading of an ordinary and simple space like Revamma’s mess and also imagine richer spatial possibilities in it. It was engaging to see Nithya pay attention to subtle environments and architectural possibilties hidden in the chaos of urbanity of Bangalore.

Nithya’s Note:

This project begins with an understanding that a thesis is a culmination of learnings from 4 years in architecture school. The thesis attempts to respond to a few un-answered questions regarding standard design formats accumulating over the years, and at the same time acknowledging ideas which are beyond the scope of the topic (in the hope that they can become other projects one day) because of its intuitive nature. 

In search of places which offer comfort from the anxiety of moving away from home and living in a new city to pursue my studies, I found unusual spots, unpopular restaurants and new comfort food which slowed me down. The simplicity and spirit of these places and spaces is the core of this project and is manifested on paper through drawing and writing – two other acts of slowness.

Below are some key questions and drawings from thesis.
The access to the complete report is here.

Reimagination of Revamma’s mess – a rich environment to explore the different subtleties of cooking and eating.
This drawing encapsulates Nithya’s delicate explorations of the theme of slowness and food – and its intertwining.
This process drawing – tracing in particular – simultaneously explores and reveals the intent of the project. A slow brewing of both the thought and the space. The drawing becomes a container to hold both space and time.

Here are few selected key moments from the thesis :
(Click on the any of the images to view in larger format)

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.

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 :

Framework – Sem 6

We just ended a challenging online sixth semester at WCFA. Below image is our final reflection of the semester. Documenting on the learning outcomes both for the student and faculty. When Aabid Raheem had a come for a review at WCFA two years back, he did a very interesting thing. He gathered all the students before the review and discussed the ‘learning outcomes’ from that semester. Later the discussions were calibrated with the domain of this ‘learning outcome’. Since then i have attempted to consolidate the learning outcomes for myself and the students. Whats on the left is common ground for the four different groups for the semester. Each group made the enquiry particular. Below is the particular approach my group took. This consolidation allows to reflect on pedagogical framework. 

WCFA, Batch 2018, Co Faculty – Surendran Aalone