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Architecture + The Landscape
Architecture + The Environment
Architecture + Its Inhabitants
Architecture + Materiality
Architecture + Technology
Architecture + The Social-Cultural-Economic-Political Context
Architectural Integration: The Paradigm of Architecture

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The Carbon Neutral Design Project:
Carbon Neutral Teaching: Curriculum Materials Development
Sandy Stannard
Cal Poly San Luis Obispo

Seven Frames of Reference
Senior Architectural Design Projects

Architecture + The Social-Cultural-Economic-Political Context


Design Performance Objective

Strategic Context

Christine Moser
cradle-to-cradle issues; ecological ethics and poetics; eco-education (through programming as well as through demonstration); design for disassembly (DFD)
6a: A Place To Be, San Luis Obispo, CA (but site could vary). A full scale design/build exploration of a personal retreat space, exploring new, experiential uses of discarded materials as well as design for disassembly (DFD) principles.

Students: as noted
Software / Tools:


Arch 481 Senior Architectural Design Project Studio/
Arch 492 Senior Design Thesis Seminar

Architecture + The Social-Cultural-Economic-Political Context


All architecture is physically contextual (whether consciously conceived or not); it is also always political (whether consciously calculated or not). The primary goal should be to make architectural proposals that are strategic rather than reactive, appropriate to the space and time of the given situation.

Design Performance Objective

All students are challenged to consider the social, cultural, economic and political contexts of their chosen projects. As an instructor, I encourage students to select strategic projects, and then realize strategic solutions to those projects. No project is simply an object, or “building.” Every project is full of portent beyond its mere physical presence.

• course and project outline

Investigative Strategy

This inquiry begins with multiple short writing assignments (500 word abstracts) and one-on-one consultations with the instructor. Reading and research as well as discussion are essential to the process. Suggested readings range from directly on the thesis topic, to more “poetic” explorations of the topic (from literature, art, music, dance, etc.). Cross-cultural references are encouraged. Intensive site investigations and documentation are required, as is a finely produced site/issues video.

Evaluation Process

Final presentations and final iterations of the thesis “book.”

Evaluative Criteria

Demonstration of sensitive responsivity to the given social-cultural-economic-political situation of the given project challenge, through the thorough investigation of site issues (physical as well as human), through referencing appropriate precedents, and through the demonstration of applied learning as evidenced in the proposed design solution.

Cautions - Possible Confusions
Part of the thesis research (both as a collective in the thesis seminar and on an invidividual basis in response to the unique project challenge) involves raising students’ awareness of the broader socio-political implications of their design work, beyond the mere physical proposal of a building.
Range of Applicability in terms of CLIMATE
Range of Applicability in terms of TYPE
Reference Material

Friedman, Thomas, Hot, Flat, and Crowded (New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2008)
Orr, David, The Nature of Design: Ecology, Culture, and Human Intention (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002).
Wines, James, Green Architecture (Koln: Taschen, 2000).
Zelov, Chris, Ed., Design Outlaws on the Ecological Frontier (Easton: Knossus Publishing, 1997).

Duration of Exercise
The duration of the entire thesis sequence is 30 weeks. Projects are continuously reviewed and publically presented, including watershed presentations at: week 9, week 13, week 16, week 19, week 22, week 28, and week 29. Three thesis books are required (week 10, week 20, week 30). Final projects are documented in thesis books, due week 30.
Degree of Difficulty / Previous Knowledge Required



Exploring local and global culture. Youth hostel, Los Angeles, CA. [Vivian Ngo]

Exploring local and global culture. Youth hostel, Los Angeles, CA. [Vivian Ngo]


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