International Journal of Art & Design Education

Fragmentation and Interrogation as an Approach to Integration

Volume 29.3   2010



This article tracks the generative role of research and fragmentation as a means for integrating technology and form within an architecture technology lecture class and a co-requisite design studio. The complexity of teaching building systems integration within a design studio context is achieved by removing any expectation of building design completion on a comprehensive scale. Typically, in a comprehensive studio, students will design an entire building at a general scale, but at the expense of detailed technical design. However, with use of building fragments, students will design a building corner or a structural bay in great detail while leaving the rest of the building less developed. With our approach, integration occurs through interrogation of case-study buildings and student projects in the technical course which is complemented by a series of fragmental design studies in the studio. We propose that designing fragments encourages constructive thinking at multiple scales rather than design as a singular problem solving process. As a result, design is not seen as the creation of objects, but as the guidance of multiple, simultaneously acting forces into an integrated assembly. The co-requisite technical course also embraces fragmentation for research purposes: three professors provide three different technical (structures, environment and construction) and conceptual viewpoints for three distinct building pairs. Various forces within those building pairs are compared to illuminate strategic thinking for comprehensive building design. The intense focus on selective technical systems within these building pairs is intended to support the same development of integrative strategic thinking in the studio.