Graphic novels fold drawings of people, space, and time into their narrative structure to produce powerful visual stories. Graphic novels and architecture also share a set of common tools that are central to their depiction — drawing, sequencing, text, action, character, etc. This makes for a natural allegiance between graphic novels, architecture, and the city. In this episode, Stewart pulls the graphic novels off his bookshelf to show how and why they influenced his approach to architectural design and led to the creation of award-winning competition entries. In particular, David Mazzuchelli’s City of Glass and Asterios Polyp, and Chris Ware’s Building Stories offer lessons for developing a holistic approach to architecture that involves multiple points of view, politics, fiction, and visionary design.
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Perhaps no modern character from TV or film is more enthralled with architects than George Costanza from Seinfeld. And, let’s be honest here, how many architects chose the profession in order to say those words, “I am an Architect?” Well, what if George was an architect? What kind of architect would he be? In this episode, Stewart breaks down scenes from Seinfeld in order to piece together the kind of architect he really wants to be. Using seven exhibits and a lawyerly argument, he builds his case around this most pressing 'what if' scenario. Exhibits range from George’s overt references, like his claim to have designed the addition to the Guggenheim, to a more psychological assessment of his proclivities for cozy, velvet-lined spaces and concluding with his fascination for pretending in the first place.
LEGOs are universal world-building units and a popular gateway into architecture. Of course, you can build almost anything with them, cars, spaceships, you name it, but buildings of all kinds — from police-stations to castles — are some of the most popular subjects. What makes LEGOs so appealing to young, and not-so-young architects? What, specifically, makes them a good analogy for the design of buildings? In this episode, Stewart purchases a box of LEGOs and uses it as a springboard to talk about what he’s learned from the toy block system. From lessons on modularity and proportion, to grammar and resolution, to compositional categories of additive and subtractive, the video breaks down how these fundamental concepts apply to both LEGOs and to the history and design of architecture.
This video explores how the settings and spaces in the first season of HBO’s Westworld contribute to the overall interpretation of the show. From the lawless town of Sweetwater, to the tightly controlled offices of Delos, Westworld uses architecture precisely to establish its intricate worlds. While the show is set within a theme park of the near future, books like Michael Sorkin’s Variation on a Theme Park argue that we are already treating the cities we live in — in real life — as theme parks. So, while Westworld shares a number of architectural strategies with places like Disneyland, it is also not too far away from places like Chicago, New York, or London. After all, it was the architect Charles Moore that declared Disneyland the most influential urban environment built after World War 2. Getting to the bottom of this rabbit hole includes lots of train rides and an introduction to Michel Foucault’s concept of heterotopia, which helps explain what happens when worlds collide.
In this video, Architecture with Stewart breaks down the floor plan strategies of Louis Kahn (1901-1974) for how they treat and arrange rooms in servant/served configurations. After World War II showed us the dark underbelly of technology, the architecture that gave us “machines for living in'' seemed misguided and dehumanizing. In contrast to pre-war open and free plans, Louis Kahn considered new possibilities for rooms; believing their privacy and enclosures could work together in a ‘society of rooms.’ Beginning with a close look at the Trenton Bath House, the video includes computer animations, sketches, photographs, and historical narratives to trace the evolution of the room through buildings like the Adler House, Esherick House, and the Exeter library — a monumental room of cultural memory.
Liminal spaces are everywhere, both literally, and as a popular topic of intrigue on Reddit and other image-sharing platforms. Posting photographs of empty dilapidated spaces followed by collective reminiscing of childhood experiences is proving to be a popular activity these days. At one time or another, the spaces depicted in these eerie photos seemed like a good idea, a useful solution to a problem of providing shelter for crowds in the act of movement or commerce. Architecture had specific terms for these spaces too and defined them through theories that explained their role in our culture. In this video, architectural professor Stewart Hicks presents how architects think about liminal spaces, what goes into them, why they exist, and why some architects and artists still work to produce their effect.
Architectural plans require training in order to read, understand, and produce. Mastering their codes can unlock the most powerful tool that architects have to imagine and construct new buildings. It is not only important to learn the intricate formal and geometric operations to produce these types of drawings, but also to interrogate the traces they leave on the buildings we design. In this video, architecture professor and designer, Stewart Hicks talks about the basics of architectural plans: where they came from, how they are made and used, and what they are good at representing. Using a three-dimensional model of a basic house, he goes through the steps of transforming it into a plan projection while discussing the implications of each step and offering precedents to reveal their nuanced implications.
What is the danger of making something pretty? Well, when it comes to homes it can be complicated. Curb appeal seems like an innocent concept, but architects have been quoted calling it “empty signifiers of good design” or even eerie or creepy. Curb appeal privileges superficial visual composition over deeper, more spatial considerations. Further, the overregulation of visual propriety easily strays into practices that are exclusionary and oppressive. This video takes a close look at the history, evolution, and consequences of curb appeal from an architect’s perspective using examples from popular culture, art, film, and architecture. Unexpected origins and peculiar turns through picturesque gardens, mirrors for viewing the landscape, and exhibitions like Venturi Scott Brown’s ‘Signs of Life’ serve as waypoints in our journey for understanding people’s views of what houses should look like.
We’ve all commented on a building’s character before. An apartment might have it because of some special oak trim, or a building might not fit with the ‘character’ of its neighborhood. In this video, architectural designer and professor Stewart Hicks takes a close look at the meaning and origins of this elusive concept. Why do we use this word for both people and for buildings? Characters also occur in fiction, does that help explain how buildings tell stories? From the Enlightenment architects Ledoux, Boullée, and Lequeu, to the Beetlejuice house, to contemporary practices exploring what it might mean for a building to have a face or a posture, we get to the bottom of why architects might consider architectural character to be a good idea.
Ever wondered (or forgotten) the difference between open plans and free plans? In this video, architectural designer and professor Stewart Hicks breaks down what makes Open Plans a unique form of ‘open concept.’ It is part of a series that explores terms from real estate using contemporary, historical, and theoretical examples from architecture. In this case, the spatial strategies of Mies van der Rohe are explained, beginning with his early unbuilt houses, through the Barcelona Pavilion, to the Farnsworth House. Each one features a particular, but evolving, use of walls, columns, and roof planes that add up to what we call ‘Open Plans.’ Other videos in the series are dedicated to things like Free or Organic Plans and can help anyone sharpen their understanding of architectural concepts.
The term ‘open concept’ is popular with house-flipping television shows and real estate descriptions for lofts or contemporary style homes. However, the phrase is absent from the architect’s lexicon, likely due to a much more robust vocabulary and archive of precedents for describing the continuity of space in a domestic environment. This video is the second in a series that breaks down various ‘open concepts’ in architecture. The first video was dedicated to the ‘Organic Plan’ of Frank Lloyd Wright and this one takes a closer look at the ‘Free Plan’ of Le Corbusier. Through comparisons with Wright and supported with examples from the Five Points of a Modern Architecture, ‘Free Plans’ are presented as a unique way of understanding the coherence of space.
There’s always an ongoing debate on whether some designs are stolen or “modified” to become original. Most people assume that if we post pictures of our designs online, we would be giving away our work and other designers and architects will eventually steal them. But should we really hide our designs from the public? Are plans and sections so sacred and innovative to the extent that architects are applying copyrights to them?
Kevin Hui and Andrew Maynard of Youtube’s Archimarathon chat about copying designs, how students and architects can learn from existing designs, and whether plagiarism exists in the field of architecture.
2019 marks a century of Bauhaus, the school-turned-movement whose influence withstood forced relocations, political meddling, and eventual closure. Despite dramatic shifts in technology, taste, and style in architecture in the years since, Bauhaus remains one of the most significant subjects of architectural/design education and has even captured the interest of the wider public.
As part of our celebrations of the Bauhaus movement - and to satiate your thirst to learn more - we have selected some of the best Bauhaus documentaries available online now. Featuring largely-unseen footage, exclusive interviews, and/or unique perspectives on the Bauhaus, these films provide an excellent way to get up to speed.
Designers and the general public alike have an endless fascination with abandoned architecture. Throughout history shifting economies, disasters, regime changes, and utter incompetence have all caused the evacuation of impressive architectural structures, which today serve as curious, sometimes eerie monuments to a bygone era.
Such is our fascination with these structures, YouTube is awash with videos and series of curious explorers documenting their daring, sometimes dubious adventures within abandoned architecture. One such channel, with a keen eye for architectural cinematography, is The Proper People.
If you are trying to approach the representation of architecture through postproduction in Photoshop, the YouTube channel Show It Better can be very useful. The following tutorials allow you to maximize the effectiveness of photoshop by providing both technical and visual tips.
Here we have selected examples that address axonometric representation, plans, sections, elevations, diagrams, and others.
We hope you enjoy the following tutorials. What other kinds of drawing tips would you like to see?
We live in a world that spends more time online than outside. And as architects and designers, we invest in creating a more engaging world by means of enhancing life through our buildings. However, through a perhaps unique form of tunnel vision, we are missing an incredible opportunity to leverage alternative mediums to impact more people through our design businesses.
Here are 5 ways to utilize your creativity to produce unique content that will help enhance your impact on the world of design, and in turn, push you and your design business forward:
With rapid advancements in technology and crystal clear imagery, drones have allowed us to experience our cities and landscapes from unimaginable vantage points and perspectives. In its series of videos, YouTube channel Mingomatic uses drones to capture the sights and scenes of predominantly American cities and various locations from above, offering glimpses of skylines, oceans, highways and terrains (and seals!). Check out the 10 videos below for some spectacular views, and find Mingomatic’s full selection, here.
In an increasingly paperless world, architecture still relies on channeling ideas by hand. Sketching has endured as the method of choice for designers to communicate with clients, the public, and each other. As we have previously reported, the George Architect YouTube channel, managed by Reza Asgaripour and Avdieienko Heorhii, is devoted to bringing sketching techniques and ideas to the wider world, with a series of tutorials on everything from light and shade to three-point perspectives.