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ARC1001 : Architectural Design 1

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Mr Simon Hacker
  • Owning School: Architecture, Planning & Landscape
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 1 Credit Value: 30
Semester 2 Credit Value: 30
ECTS Credits: 30.0
European Credit Transfer System



The central aim throughout the module is to encourage students to experience and communicate architectural design in a personal and meaningful way. This takes place through an ethical framework that emphasises concern for others and a concern for the environment. In doing so, we aim to encourage students to be outward looking and questioning – more aware of their own surroundings, and those of others – but also better equipped to start imagining opportunities for appropriately engaging with them.


The module aims to introduce many essential aesthetic and technical skills and to provide a learning environment and context that encourages engagement with them, both as a process (in the form of research, exploration, development, and testing), and as presentation (in the form of verbal, written, drawn, and modelled outputs) – especially, although not uniquely, in relation to architectural designs [GC1.1/2/3; GC2.3].

Through engagement with precedents, building visits and city walks, students are taught to critically evaluate existing buildings, their programmes and systems [GC7.1; GC8.1], to appraise and analyse sites, contexts and climate [GC5.3; GC6.3; GC7.2], to consider, together with their tutor, how this knowledge and learning can then be applied to analyse, answer and respond to the on-going studio design project briefs [GC7.3] in order to provide design solutions that respond to place, to people, and to programme [GC5.1], and that begin to understand their impact on the environment (GC5.2), the communities within which they are located [GC6.3]. and their place in relation to culture, history, and an existing body of architectural work.

Alongside this, students are afforded opportunities to apply knowledge and skills gained from other modules to specific studio design projects. This can be aesthetic in the form of creative skills (such as photography, life-drawing and colour work) [GC3.2] and their application to studio design process and presentation work (GC3.3); or technical in the form of structural, constructional and material understanding used to bring form and substance to design project development and proposals [GC8.1/2/3] or to achieve particular internal or environmental conditions in response to a project brief and context [GC9.1/2].

We aim to provide a vibrant and creative studio learning environment. Students are encouraged to see the studios as ‘safe spaces’ in which everyone is always learning, and no-one is an expert. Testing, experimentation, and mistakes are encouraged, discussed, and sometimes even celebrated. Students are encouraged to attend studio for tutorials in small groups and to stay for the whole day if they can – to talk, share, learn and teach together. In doing so, they have opportunities to learn individually, from and alongside others in their tutor group, but also more collectively as a cohort as well as from tutors and others within the wider School.

Outline Of Syllabus

The module begins with projects and interventions that reveal the nature of architectural design as multivalent and complex. This introduction sketches in a conceptual framework in order to explain the relevance of further teaching.

A series of tasks and projects then focus on: intervention within specific contexts – natural and manmade; the implications of detailed decisions about context, materials and construction; 3D manipulation of interior space and light to meet specific programmatic, functional and user requirements. The relevance of methods related to the fine arts is also introduced, especially via conceptual translation techniques and as a means to record responses to context and environment. The final project of the year demands an appropriate design response to a particular site and to a set of specific activities, as well as requiring consideration of materials and an exploration of design across a variety of scales. Students undertake work individually and as teams working in small groups.

The related analytical and design tasks gradually develop basic architectural thinking, skill, and knowledge. Each project is carefully structured in order to introduce new ways of thinking; develop or blend a new skill, or to reinforce previously tested skills; and usually encompasses a particular type of knowledge. The learning experience is cumulative – each project enables the next and the level of complexity gradually builds towards application in a final, consolidating project.

Taken together, the design projects form an introduction to the scope and definition of the subject. Initially, skills in graphic composition and analysis are introduced as a means of analysing and synthesising architectural order by using precedents. Projects of smaller or larger scale are designed to introduce the skills of manipulating circulation, outdoor and indoor special relationships, and the qualities of interior space. The ability to make informed choices about scale and material of basic structural elements is linked with basic functional and ergonomic factors and to architectural theories and history. Sites vary but often range from green landscape to larger homogeneous (coherent) environments allowing the implementation of theories of urban design or cityscape introduced in other modules. An awareness of the impact of chosen design and development ideas and methods in relation to ethical concerns and the climate emergency is introduced at different points within the year.

The projects and workshops particularly explore design as a dialogue between qualities and quantities of different orders. Theories and approaches differ according to the specific learning outcomes of each project.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials102:0020:00S2 Design Project/Portfolio Development and Tasks - including sketchbook and reflective journal
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion48:0032:00S1 Presentation outputs directly in relation to the design project assessments
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials12:002:00S2 Semester 2 Introductory Lecture - one-off
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture63:0018:00S2 Weekly Design Lectures – a one hour lecture followed by one hour of skills practice and then ending with a further one hour lecture
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture102:0020:00S1 Weekly Design Lectures
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion108:0080:00S2 Assessment Preparation and Completion - directly in relation to the end of year assessments
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical18:008:00S1 City Drawing Event - one day
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical54:0020:00S1 Fortnightly City Walks - tutor-led walks and skill practice sessions within Newcastle
Structured Guided LearningAcademic skills activities61:006:00S2 Design Process Videos - to be watched ahead of the weekly skills workshops
Structured Guided LearningAcademic skills activities108:0080:00S1 Design Project Development and Tasks - including sketchbook and reflective journal
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching124:0048:00S2 Weekly Design Tutorials - small group/individual studio tutorials/reviews (two each week for six weeks)
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching104:0040:00S1 Weekly Design Tutorials - small group or individual studio tutorials/reviews
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops54:0020:00S1 Fortnightly Skills Workshops - larger group, drawing and studio skills workshops
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops64:0024:00S2 Online Skills Workshops - in support of the ongoing design studio projects
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops60:303:00S2 Online Module Talks - signposting talks and general Q&As, disseminated via Canvas etc
Guided Independent StudyReflective learning activity101:0010:00S1 Small group working including discussions, peer review, forming group questions/discussion themes
Guided Independent StudyReflective learning activity112:0022:00S2 Individual completion of weekly reflective journal/sketchbook
Guided Independent StudyReflective learning activity102:0020:00S1 Individual completion of sketchbook / reflective journal.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesFieldwork28:0016:00S2 Site Visits / Field Trips - in support of the ongoing design studio projects
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery121:3018:00S2 'Drop-In’ - office hours, one-to-one Q&A, disseminated via Canvas as appropriate (two a week for six weeks)
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery101:3015:00S1 Weekly Online Drop-In Surgeries - office hours, one-to-one Q&As, disseminated online if appropriate
Guided Independent StudyStudent-led group activity60:303:00S2 Small Group Working - discussion, peer review, group questions & discussion themes for tutorials
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study140:0040:00S2 Independent Study
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study130:0030:00S1 Independent Study
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesModule talk100:305:00S1 Weekly Online Module Talks - signposting talks and general Q&As, recorded and fed back via Canvas
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Design learning is focussed around a carefully orchestrated series of design projects that build in complexity and scale throughout the year.

Each design project is undertaken in response to a design ‘brief’ and the supporting teaching (studio tutorials) takes place on weekly studio days and encourages a process-driven and iterative approach to design that often leads to a variety of presentational outputs. Students are encouraged to learn ‘alongside’ and in discussion with their peers and, to this end, whilst some individual teaching and assessment takes place, the majority is undertaken in small groups in order to help build a studio culture.

Throughout each design project there is often a focus on analysing and responding to one or more of the following:
• Site: to promote contextual-driven awareness (including climate, materials, proximal buildings, and features).
• Brief/Schedule of Accommodation: to promote programmatic awareness (including entry points, routes, activities, and zonings).
• Precedents: to promote research-based working and the development of architectural language ideas.

A wide variety of teaching and learning methods are employed, in order that theoretical teaching and practical application best complement one another at appropriate stages throughout each project.
These include:
• Design project ‘briefs’ (often used to define the design problems and needs).
• Research, surveying, and analytical skills (often employed to help understand these needs more fully).
• Design theory and practice (including case-study) lectures, videos, and workshops/discussions (often providing techniques and methodologies that can be used in the problem-solving process).
• Verbal, written and visual communication skills and techniques (used to explain the problem, process, and solution to others).
• Reflective learning through the production of a weekly reflective blog/vlog/journal (used to help identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to personal learning development).

Teaching delivery is distributed reasonably evenly between ‘Scheduled Learning and Teaching’, ‘Structured Guided Learning’ and ‘Guided Independent Study’ (please see note on Synchronous v Non-synchronous Hours, below). The former provides regular weekly contact to facilitate the process-driven nature of design as well as some semester-long ‘structure’, with the weekly Signposting Talks/Q&A Sessions playing a key role in helping students both navigate the module and contextualise their learning within the wider programme.


Summary of 'Live' (Present in Person) Provision:
208 hours of 'live' contact time reflects the central role of studio (design project) learning and teaching and the high concentration of new skill teaching and development that takes place throughout the module.

Summary of Synchronous v Non-synchronous Hours:
In addition to the 'live' activities, there are a further 47 hours of non-synchronous Learning and Teaching activities that take place throughout the year (i.e. across the 2 semesters).

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Portfolio2A100Portfolio review. Marked as Pass/Fail.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Design Projects are reviewed, and individual performance is discussed as the year progresses.

Each project is evaluated against a set of criteria outlined in the Project Brief. The assessment criteria for each project commonly require an understanding of and an ability to apply:
• A particular body of knowledge (related to the project).
• A particular range of skills and techniques (introduced in the project).

Following each project review, students receive a set of written comments in relation to the declared criteria, together with a broad indicator of progress. Further oral feedback is given by the project leader at Project Reviews/feedback meetings.

The formal assessment takes place at the end of Semester 2 where the year’s design work will be assessed holistically as a portfolio. This allows students to amend and develop work from earlier projects before the final portfolio assessment at the end of Semester 2.


• Students are required to hand in a ‘complete’ academic portfolio at the end of the year (i.e. the portfolio must include work for all stage design projects).
• Failure to submit a full portfolio will be considered as a non-submission of the entire module.
• It is the student’s responsibility to retain any outputs (documents, originals, models, files etc) that they produce in relation to their design projects throughout the academic year, for inclusion in the portfolio.
• The final mark is provisional and subject to approval within the external examination process.

Reading Lists