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APL3017 : Construction, Energy and Professional Practice

  • Offered for Year: 2023/24
  • Module Leader(s): Mr Toby Blackman
  • Co-Module Leader: Dr John Kamara
  • Owning School: Architecture, Planning & Landscape
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


This module examines the context, process and detail of architectural design and production.

Context: this module examines the conditions of design and production;
Process: contract frameworks, responsibilities and agency, costs and funding, development of aesthetic and technical requirements, translatory medium;
Detail: management of design and production—intersections of context, process and detail, constraints and opportunities.

This module aims to introduce students to the issues involved in being an architect within the context of the construction industry. It is designed to develop students awareness and understanding of the profession of architecture, the ethics of being a professional, the role of architects in society and their obligations to the wider environment with respect to environmental sustainability and climate change, fire and life safety design, the regulations and procedures involved in translating design concepts into safe buildings and integrating plans into overall planning. The module also introduces students to issues associated with managing the process of design and the business skills required in the practice of architecture.

This module seeks to develop climate literacy in architectural practice, and support the ongoing development towards the competency and confidence to practice architectural design with material, technical, environmental and structural responsibility, awareness and understanding. This module builds upon the foundations of knowledge, understanding and skill established in Stage 1 of the BA Architecture degree programme (K100) and Stages 1,2 and 3 of the M-AUP (Architecture, 1660U), to develop understanding of the embodied and operational energy associated with design and construction of the built environment, and foster skill in the material and technical aspects of architectural practice.

This module builds on and considers retrospectively the design project submitted for APL2006 Living Communally. The intention is that knowledge and understanding gained from the module will be applied to the technical resolution of the architectural design project (eg structure, material, enclosure) through workshop- based practice of professional competencies and skills.

The module is based around the intersection of the ARB/RIBA syllabus for professional practice, and ethical/ecological design and construction. It is assessed via 2 components that reflect this integration:

-       Report One (1,000-word) requires the production and analysis/interrogation of a 1:1 design junction, detail or material surface proposed as part of the co-requisite design module, APL2006, demonstrating material, technical, environmental and structural responsibility, awareness and understanding.
-       Report Two (2,000-word professional practice report) enables students to analytically reflect on Professional Practice and Management considerations related to the design project work as part of the co-requisite design module, APL2006, from the wider context to detail design and construction, therefore considering holistically the process of safely and ethically producing the project both as a whole and in detail.

Outline Of Syllabus

The topics covered by the module are drawn from the subject areas dealing with professional practice in Architecture, which include:

- Professionalism; Clients, users and delivery of services;
- Legal framework and processes;
- Practice and management;
- Building procurement;
- Ecological Functionalism, and the relationship between design, construction, material, and site;
- Embodied and operational energy in the design and construction of the built environment;
- Fabric First design principles for energy conservation, Cradle to Cradle design and materiality, and Passivhaus design and construction;
- Principles for passive low-energy environmental design, from site to fabric enclosure and opening (eg window and door) design and performance;
- Structural logic, materials, systems, and paradigms for the design of structured space;
- Principles of Fire Safety Design: ignition, development and spread of fire; fire performance of construction materials; design for fire safety;
- Site-wide and building-specific principles for water management, reuse, and Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SUDs);
- Dimensioning and setting-out of works on site, spatial geometries, and material arrangements;
- Technical, environmental and creative criteria for material selection, processing/fabrication, and construction;
- Methods of integrating material matters in spatial design development (both written, eg annotation and specification writing, and drawn/modelled, eg geometry and linework).

This module introduces construction methodologies related to medium- and large- scale buildings and thereby supporting the developing scale and complexity of the Architectural Design module projects, whilst building upon prerequisite modules in Architectural Technology (ARC1013, ARC1014 and ARC2016) and previous studies in the field of materials and technology, structures, and environmental design.

Appropriate case studies or examples are used to illustrate the topics in practical applications through in-class analysis of exemplar case studies, statutory documents and governing bodies, architectural project documentation, methods and practices, and textbook extracts.

The relationship between statutory processes and routes to approval, codes of practice, BS/EN Standards and Building Regulations and architectural design practices will be outlined, and the ethos of holistic sustainability reinforced [from the energy embodied in the building fabric, to the operational energy of the constructed building.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture142:0028:00Series of lectures supporting knowledge and understanding of climate literate detail design and construction.
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion190:0090:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading104:0040:00Guided reading to support development of more deeply understanding the lecture topics, to prepare for creative practice and coursework preparation.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical38:0024:00Full-day, creative practice-based sessions: 1:1 making.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops82:0016:00Online workshops supporting the development of the skills and preparation of the coursework (detail design notation).
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesModule talk21:002:00To introduce the module and provide guidance on assessment.
Jointly Taught With
Code Title
ARC2017Construction, Energy, Professional Practice
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

This module is shared between the BA(Hons) Architecture programme (K100) and M-AUP (Architecture, 1660U) and Present-In-Present (PIP) provision will be provided for scheduled learning activities, which could be switched to synchronous online delivery if necessary. Additional PIP will also be provided at programme level.

Teaching methods include scheduled learning and teaching activities (module talk, lectures, workshops and practical sessions), and various guided independent study activities.

The module talks, which will be delivered at the start and end of teaching, will situate the context of the module in relation to the BA and the profession of architecture, and provide guidance on assessment. The lectures will present and discuss key concepts underpinning the learning outcomes and will be structured to allow the scaffolding of ideas to facilitate learning. The workshops and practical sessions will facilitate an in-depth exploration and application of the concepts presented in the lectures.

Teaching fosters development of the confidence and competency to work across the sites of meaning-production in contemporary architectural practice – drawing, building, model, text – which are many and varied in form, content, process, and practice.

Teaching and learning is delivered in a variety of formats to create a field of study at the intersection of these sites, and foster the development of knowledge, understanding, and skill in spatial design processes informed by climate literacy, and developing technical competence by seeking application of technical processes to an architectural design project. The nature of this symbiotic practice is introduced in the teaching through critical discussion of archive design material (working drawings, specifications etc), environmental simulation (modelling and calculation), documented translation (fabrication and construction processes), and a series of case studies and constructed assets (prototypes, finished buildings, landscapes, and infrastructure elements).

Knowledge of the syllabus is developed in a core lecture format, each introduced by reading extracts prepared for study in advance. Understanding and skill is developed through discussion of the topics, and application of the models and methods in small group workshops, and non-assessed, formative sessions. Clear, succinct assessment criteria are introduced, setting out the intended learning outcomes and signposted throughout the teaching to frame the subjects and objects of study both practically and intellectually.

The module seeks to support technically rigorous, climate literate, architectural design practice, employing practical workshops to support the students' application of knowledge and understanding to the design project, and the development of skill through formative practice.

The above-average number of contact hours are required to ensure adequate coverage of the syllabus for this module.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Report2M50A 1000 word report based upon the design and production of a 1:1 surface or detail, and examining the translation of design notation in the material construction.
Report2M50A 2000 word report analytically reflecting on Professional Practice and Management considerations related to the design project work from its wider context to detail design and construction
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

There are 2, non-compensable components of assessment - both must be passed to pass the module:

Report 1: a 1000-word report based upon the design & production of a 1:1 surface or detail & examining the translation of design notation in the material construction.
Report 2: a 2000-word report analytically reflecting on Professional Practice & Management considerations related to the design project work from its wider context to detail design & construction.

Relationship between Learning Outcomes & Assessment:
Intended Knowledge Outcomes

GC4 Report 2 examines the influence of urban design & planning in design (GC4.1), the current planning regulations & development control legislation & the influence of those factors in design (GC4.3)

GC5 Report 1 reflects on the ethics of being a professional & take into consideration the aspiration of building users (GC5.1), the role of architects in society, their obligations to the wider environment e.g. environmental sustainability (GC5.2) & the influence of local context in shaping buildings (GC5.3)

GC6 Report 2 examines the nature of professionalism & the duties of architects to clients, building users, constructors, co-professionals, wider society, & the world at large (environmental sustainability & life & fire safety design) (GC6.1/2)

GC7 Report 1 examines approaches that integrate design & technological strategies (GC7.1) & reflect on the contribution of architects & co-professionals in preparing & formulating briefs (GC7.3)

GC8 Report 1 critically investigates choices of structural & constructional systems (GC8.1); integrates technical knowledge in detail design (GC8.2); & demonstrates knowledge of building materials & specifications with respect to environmental sustainability (GC8.3)

GC9.1 Report 1 tests knowledge of environmental performance informed by constructional & material decisions. It includes a descriptive specification of environmental/structural/thermal/visual & other performance strategies

GC9.2 Report 1 tests knowledge of environmental sustainability & environmental comfort, awareness of climate change & strategies for mitigation

GC9.3 Report 1 examines layered construction methods & the holistic integration of services & infrastructure elements in detail design, as part of wider building strategies

GC11.1 Report 2 tests the understanding of the nature of professionalism & the duties & responsibilities of architects to clients, building users, constructors, co-professionals, wider society, & the world at large. Also, Report 1 examines the relationship between statutory processes & routes to approval, codes of practice, BS/EN Standards & Building Regulations & architectural design

GC11.2 Report 2 tests knowledge of the industries, organisations, & stakeholders involved in the commissioning & translating of design concepts into buildings that are safe & well-built, including the contractual & organisational structures that manage these relationships

Intended Skills Outcomes
GC1 Report 1 tests the understanding of constructional & structural strategies & the regulatory requirements that apply to design projects (GC1.2) & demonstrate an approach to architectural design integrating aesthetic aspects, technical & regulatory requirements & needs of users (GC1.3)

GC10.1 Report 2 examines financial factors implied in building types, constructional systems & specification choices with consideration of the proposed 1:1 detail as a starting point to consider these holistically at building scale

GC10.2 Report 2 tests the understanding of the cost control mechanisms which operate during the development of a project, applied to the proposed design project work

GC10.3 Report 1 tests the regulations & procedures involved in translating design concepts into safe buildings that perform according to required standards. Report 2 tests how designs respond to the requirements of building users & the impact on clients & users

Reading Lists