Research / Studio Project


Tinana refers to the actual, main part or core of something, including the self. Whakatinana is to make manifest concepts or ideas, to be able to realise your individual or collective aspirations in tangible form. This concept recognises that the process of actualisation is connected both to an individual’s or group’s aspirations and the framework or structures (social, political, cultural, historical) within which they operate. As a process, whakatinana respects that there will be challenges in the world and that every challenge should be taken seriously and planned for with due caution. Accepting challenges and acknowledging the importance of your support structures, including valuing the contribution of others and thorough preparation, fosters mutual respect.

Course overview

“In this course you will explore a specific design research topic chosen by the student. Spatial design processes are applied to resolve the complexities of a design research project to an in-depth level of detail and inhabitation. You will develop a design brief that formulates a critical position in relation to spatial design, establishing tangible links between theory and practice to identify design processes to generate a design research response.” (


Course information:

This course will run Fridays, 1:00 – 4:00 pm with some exceptions.

For office hours, contact one of the four academics delivering this course for an appointment.


Week 1 and Week 2: JUMP START

224.454 BDES Hons students:

As you might imagine, we are working intensely to prepare for your semester 2 experience. A few notes:

We (Sven, Meg, Stu and Julieanna) would like you to come prepared to class on 20 July at 1pm with some materials which will help to shape a workshop called JUMP START that will run week 1 and week 2. Keeping in mind the proposal you prepared last semester, we would like you to bring the following:

1. An A3 page titled at the bottom with the words “site/ location”. Using drawings, images, diagrams, maps, text, identify 3 different sites for your final project. Try to choose sites that challenge your preconceptions of scale, context and material conditions.

2. An A3 page titled at the bottom with the words “programme”. Using drawings, images, diagrams, maps and text, list the programme for your project and give some examples.

3. An A3 page titled at the bottom with the words “methods/ processes/ modalities”. Outline in visual and textual form what modes of designing you anticipate employing. Be specific. Ask yourself why and how each one assists the development of your project.

4. An A3 page title at the bottom with the words “client/ user/ audience”. Using text and/ or images, identify who it is you are designing for and imagine their needs in detail.

Base on our views of your final submissions from last semester, no one should have all four pages blank and we expect that most people will come with at least three pages filled out. We will use week 1 and week 2 to flesh these pages out, discuss them, challenge them, identify alternatives and insert greater detail.

At the end of the session on week 2, we will divide the class into tutorial groups which will run the rest of the semester.

224.455 BDES students:

You will follow the same schedule as the 224.454 students. You week 1 and week 2 experience will be similar.

How can you come prepared? I have copied below the instructions we sent out for 224.454 students. I would like you to think of those 4 categories (site/ location, programme, audience and method/ process/ modality) as the core components to any design project brief. In our conversation on Friday I will be seeking to hear from you ideas about what you would like to work on in your last semester of the BDES. So, while I do not expect you to be in a position to fill out the sheets like the 224.454 students, I would expect you to come with provisional answers to these questions:

1. Do you want to design some thing ‘real’ as with an actual client, user and/or site or do you want to explore something more virtual / speculative? Where might either be located?

2. What is the scale of the design project you would like to challenge you this semester? As large as a colony on Mars or in the middle of the ocean or as small as a room, and everything in between?

3. What do you think are your strengths, weaknesses, proclivities, and bad habits as a designer? Knowing those, what aspects of design would you like to target to improve, enhance or take up new this semester? (This might have something to do with what you imagine doing after graduation.)

4. When you look back at all the projects you have done in the last 3.5 years, not just studio, which one has been the most exciting to you and which one has been the least exciting? Bring evidence of both to class on Friday.

5. What are your values as a spatial designer? How would you describe your approach to design? What do you privilege, start with or emphasise? What local or world issues / problems are important for spatial design to address?

Once we discuss your responses to these questions, we can work together to shape a brief for your semester’s project.


Make a new set of four A3 sheets. Edit, revise, add more detail, make more decisions, be more specific. Do so, as a reflection and response to our discussion in our Week 1 class session.

Then make another set of A3 sheets. Refine each sheet after doing some further investigation, inquiry and research on the topics of site, programme, approach and audience specific to your emerging design project. Remember that research includes going out in the world to experience places, watching how people move and behave, noticing what is affective and digging in archives, public and historic records.

Come to class on Friday 27 July with 5 A3 sheets: 1 sheet for each of the topics and a new sheet that is effectively the contract you make with yourself, a declaration of your independent design research project. (See stream for templates.) Use this effort to more than report what you already know about the project; use it to progress the project. Have your 5 sheets hung up in 10C14 no later than 1 pm ready to start. We will spend some time looking at it all as a large group and then break into four groups to consider, refine and advance each person’s project.


Week 3, 4, 5: Meet in tutorial groups. Each group will likely have a different pace and set of activities for these weeks.

Week 6: CRITS, 12 noon – 4:30 or 5:00 pm, two streams. Hand-in and Formative assessment. Pack out studio after crits.
Week 7, 8, 9, 10, 11: Meet in tutorial groups. Each group will likely have a different pace and set of activities for these weeks. 
Week 12:  CRITS, 12 noon – 4:30 or 5:00 pm, two streams. Hand-in and Summative assessment. Pack out studio after crits.

Exposure information


watch this space

Last modified: August 3, 2018