Design Studio IIIA – Whitiwhiti Kōrero

Whitiwhiti kōrero
Finding your voice

“A text, whether a book, paper, film, painting, or building, can be thought of as a kind of thief in the night. Furtive, clandestine, and always complex, it steals ideas from all around, from its own milieu and history, and, better still, from it’s outside, and disseminates them elsewhere. It is not only a conduit for the circulation of ideas, as knowledges or truths, but also passage or point of transition from one (social) stratum to another. A text is not the repository of knowledges or truths, the site for the storage of information… so much as a process of scattering thought, scrambling terms, concepts and practices, forging linkages, becoming a form of action. A text is not simply a tool or an instrument; this makes it too utilitarian, too amenable to intention, too much designed for a subject. Rather, it is explosive, dangerous, liable with unpredictable consequences…. Text. like concepts, do things, make things, perform actions, create connections, bring about new alignments…. Deleuze’s project… in part about thinking, about how to think, to think while making or rather while doing: to think as doing.” 


Grosz, Architecture from the outside: Essays on Virtual and Real Space, Cambridge & London: The MIT Press, 2001, p.57-62


Whitiwhiti kōrero is the process of developing discourse through the verbal exchange of ideas; it suggests the sparking or generation of discussion. This includes the establishment and negotiation of positions and discourses to establish a kaupapa (platform/agenda) and work towards an outcome.

“[We want] to ignite a blaze of discussion and initiative about environment as an essential element of learning.”

Start thinking about how designing (and building) forces you to have an opinion – and your design could be thought of as an ‘argument’ supporting that opinion. There is no such thing as a ‘neutral’ position for design.  What discourses or positions do you, and those you work with, bring to the table? How do you build on these discourses in an inclusive and cohesive way without undermining another’s, or your own position/approach? How do you have a voice through design? 



This paper aims to introduce you to ways of thinking about space from detail to design from the intimate relationship of the body to site, to how we interact with people and place. In essence designing from the body out. 

 Throughout this paper we will seek to uncover and reveal that which might otherwise go unnoticed or unheard. To explore temporally specific, spatial design and the relationship between tangible and intangible qualities.

 This intuitive and experimental work will be initiated through a body of text that is meaningful to you, it might be related to strong opinions you yourself hold, current events, a poem or story that speaks to you or perhaps a piece of text that you agree or disagree with. It might then be activated spatially through the manipulation of objects, materials, space and experience. That you section and draw upon to generate a design methodology. That informs your architectural intervention/s.


You are asked to present a series of spatial Interventions informed by your choice of text and experimental workings. This is to be contained within a cellular space no larger than 8 x 4 metres (vertical? Horizontal ….) (Site to be confirmed) You will need to conduct a thorough site analysis as this will be your chosen site moving into project 2.



Brief 2019

Schedule 2019


Week 1
Session 1.1
  • Mihi
  • Intro to course and project
  •  Unpack and discuss the significance of whitiwhti korero
  • Workshop – site ‘measure’ tools and methods



  • Prepare for site visit
    • Plan methods and tools for site ‘measure’
  • Readings
    • see readings folder link on Stream if you are struggling to find a body of text
  • Set up a blog and fill out the blog address form below

Link to blog address form 2019

Session 1.2
  • Meet on site (location to be advised) at 9am
  • We will be outside all morning and doing a bit of walking so dress appropriately and bring refreshments, sunscreen etc.
  • Bring tools/equipment for measuring, mapping and documenting.


  • ambience recordings, visual and/or acoustic recordings: still and moving images, hand drawings.
  • Document, map, measure using various tools and media
  • Collate/curate the material/information you gather into a visual/material/spatial site analysis that reveals layers of information about your site. You will share this in studio on Tuesday. The format is up to you – it may be:
    • A 2D visual – collaged, photoshopped, etc – probably at least A3 but as big as you need
    • A 2D/3D visual/model (we sometimes call this a ‘drodel’ – drawing-model) – as above but with 3D material included
    • A timebased, moving image or multimedia visual – could be a drawing with moving/animated elements, a short video, and/or may incorporate audio
    • A spatial installation in the studio including any of the above elements
  • You may present on walls, boards, table surfaces, floor, screen – wherever suits.

Examples of site analyses (224.351 student work 2012):

Example of time-based images (digital collage) revealing layers of information about site – Xavier Ellah, 224.453 R&D project ‘On Errant Ground’, 2016:

See also Week 1 intro slideshow for further examples of site/situation documentation – e.g. James Corner’s ‘Taking Measures Across the American Landscape’ and Jen’s ‘taking note(s)’ project.

Week 2
Session 2.1
  • Have site analysis set up and ready to present/share by 9am – use any space/surface in the studio and gallery/corridor that you need, including computers and tv screen for digital media.
  • Share and discuss site analyses
  • Workshop – site responses (concepts, methods)


Session 2.2

  • continuation of workshop – progressing from ideas to spatial concepts 


    • A refresher clinic for Vectorworks in 10b01 Friday at 1pm with Mercia
Week 3

Session 3.1

  • Open studio and workshopping session – body, materials, construction


  • Develop your three design concepts (site-specific spatial interventions) for presentation on Friday


  • present three design concepts
  • workshop with group and select one concept for development

Student Wellbeing Visit

Week 4

Session 4.1

  • Open studio – develop selected concept
    • sketch plan, section, elevation for further development this week
    • sketch of prototyping/model making for this week
    • timeline / storyboard – think about how your spatial intervention unfolds over time and what the duration of this is:
      • what aspects are constructed off site?
      • how is it installed in the site?
      • how is it encountered/experienced/performed?
      • how is it dismantled / packed out?
      • what happens to it and the site afterward?


  • Continue to develop concepts through drawings, prototypes, models and storyboards as described above.
  • By Friday you should have a clearly visualised and prototyped/modelled/tested developed design concept.

Session 4.1

  • Drawing session
    • Warm up: drawing the seated/drawing body in section; drawing the moving body in plan/section/elevation
    • Draw your proposed spatial intervention in plan, elevation, section, detail
      • Consider which elevation(s) are most important – what do they reveal/conceal about how people approach and encounter the intervention?
      • Consider which section(s) are most important – what do they reveal about the intervention in the site – how it is constructed and experienced, points of contact/intersection
      • Consider which detail(s) are most important – in particular these should show how two or more materials meet and the nature of that meeting (fixings etc) – you may want to focus on how the intervention is installed in the site, and/or a key detail that articulates a moment of transformation in the intervention (e.g. a moving part or an interactive element)
      • Include section and elevation markers in your plan drawing, and detail markers in your plan or section (depending on if it is a plan or section detail)


  • Continue to work on your technical drawings – to scale
  • Focus on your section and detail
  • Have a go at drawing up your section and/or detail in Vectorworks
  • Print and bring your drawings to studio on Tuesday,

Session 4.2

  • Pin-up feedback sessions in presentation groups. Mapping out deliverables for final crit next Tuesday:
    • Context: how do people orientate themselves and ‘step in’ to your proposal?
      • Site/location plan
      • Title, concept statement
      • Any other important information for people to understand/experience your proposal (may include stuff from site analysis – carefully curated)
    • Hero image: visual representation of embodied experience of your spatial intervention. How can you most effectively communicate the intervention and experience? Consider materiality, atmosphere, interaction, how it unfolds over time. You may want to create an ‘animated section’ using time-based representation techniques you explored in the site analysis stage.
    • Prototype/model: proof of concept; something that helps us to better understand the physical manifestation of your design proposal
    • Technical drawings: plan, elevation, section, detail


  • continue to develop/prepare final presentation elements as above
  • have all work-in-progress ready to pin up for feedback in studio on Friday (same format as last session)
  • have placeholders/mockups for anything yet to be completed
  • Vectorworks Clinic on Technical Drawings with Mercia Friday 10b01 1pm-2pm


Week 5

Working studio sessions

  • workshop- combining different media to enhance the atmospheric quality of the rendered images, the process involved sketching, rendering, photoshopping
  • Vectorworks clinic to assist in Final Drawings Friday 10b01 1pm-2pm



Week 6

Presentation / feedback sessions

Format: Pin-up presentation and ‘blind critique’ – you will get feedback from Ana, Jen and your peers on what your work is communicating, without presenting or explaining it first.

Post-critique exhibition of work and reflection session (including ‘experience stories’ exercise).


Link to reflection form.
Deadline extended on this and the Ass.1 blogs to Monday 15 April 5pm.

Last modified: February 18, 2020