Introduction to 200c

Representational Practice in Architectural Design

Emiel Cockx, Elliot Kwon, and Kyle Steinfeld for ARCH 200c, Fall 2019

Contemporary courses on architectural design methods, such as this one, seek to inculcate students with the ideas, cognitive strategies, and professional methodologies that define our discipline. In communicating those skills that separate architects from non-architects, experts from laypeople, courses such as this struggle to overcome a history of professional indoctrination.

As such, I would open the course with a question:

What does it mean to be an expert?

We might observe:

  • Expertise affords an advantage,
  • and confers to its bearer a certain social status.
  • However, to wield expertise
  • also carries certain risk.
  • Expertise may be seen as a skill that lends competitive advantage,
    and that distinguishes professionals from laypeople.

    A 20s video slowed down to 2m of passengers boarding the first-class compartment of the local train in Mumbai.
    Amit A (@Amit_smiling), 2019

    Expertise may be seen as fluency in a given medium,
    and that enables freedom of exploration and expression.

    Clips of Professor Walter Lewin drawing dashed and dotted lines during his lectures at Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    YouTube user ItMustBeCollege, 2011

    Expertise may be seen as the deep knowledge of a given technique,
    a trait that establishes a "path dependency" on a certain way of doing things.

    The Wrong Tool for the Job
    Rory Preddy, 2019

    Expertise may be seen as the product of an obsession,
    itself an intentional act that expresses the voice of an author.

    Most people: I guess balloons are ok
    Jan Hakon Erichsen

    In this course, we have a certain amount of indoctrination to do - a certain responsibility to communicating the doctrine of architectural production, and to facilitating competency in those methods that are the inheritance of our discipline. As we do so, however, I hope that we can keep in mind the dual nature of the expertise we are each developing.

    I have endeavored to make space in the class for a variety of forms of expertise. While at times I will insist that you learn certain techniques - to walk certain paths - that are central to the discipline, we will also seek out opportunities for you to develop your own voice and develop your own obsessions.

    These aims are reflected in the three primary goals of the course.

    Pedagogical Goals & Learning Objectives

    This course presents three pedagogical goals that address distinct aspects of representational practice in architectural design.

    In summary, we aim to foster the development of an awareness of the social and cultural context of representational practices, a proficiency in the technical canon of architecture, and a capacity for the appropriate application of representational techniques.

    Awareness of Context

    The course aims to cultivate an understanding of the foundational discourse and diversity of approaches to architectural representation.

    Regan Lauder, 2017

    How does an engagement with various forms of representation support our intended understanding and direct the readings of others?

    Progress toward this goal will be reflected in the ability to:

    Proficiency in Technical Canon

    The course aims to develop a fluency in the canonical methods found in architectural practice.

    Elliot Kwon, 2018

    What are the dominant representational modes that architects employ? To what ends are these techniques typically chosen, and for what purposes are they best suited?

    Progress toward this goal will be reflected in the ability to:

    Capacity for Appropriate Application

    The course aims to encourage the development of a mature and controlled relationship with a range of representational forms and formats.

    Chenyu Huang, 2018

    How can we effectively match the demands of a situated design problem with an appropriate design method?

    Progress toward this goal will be reflected in the ability to:

    Themes and Modules

    The course is organized into modules, each framed as a drawing practice appropriate for particular situations you are likely to encounter as a designer.

    For each of these topics we should keep in mind the three pedagogical goals described above. We should ask:

  • Two-Dimensional Graphic Projection Drawing
  • weeks 1-5
  • Three-Dimensional Digital Modeling
  • weeks 6-9
  • Raster / Vector Techniques
  • weeks 10-12
  • Parametric Modeling
  • weeks 13-15
  • We may see how these modules progress on our course schedule.(

    Methods of Instruction

    The class proceeds through a combination of lecture and discussion, typically taking place during the Tuesday and Thursday meeting times led by the course instructor; and hands-on demonstration of technique and in-class exercises, typically led by the GSIs. As discussed in the section below, evaluation of student performance in this course is carried out primarily through representational projects, along with a combination of problem sets, occasional in-class exercises, as well as participation in class discussions and group critiques.



    Overview of Projects

    Of Bodies and Blobs

    Here we consider two bodies as the subject for a series of drawings, the production of which allows us to develop skills in descriptive graphic projection, in the visual communication of form and space, and in the extraction of two-dimensional graphics from three-dimensional computer models.

    The Bodies and Blobs project

    The Standard Set

    This project examines the notion of a "standard set" of documentation drawings related to an architectural project. What are the standard pieces that are capable of carrying any project forward, and what sort of drawings are unique to individual projects? Here we propose the development of a case-study that will serve to guide the work of the seminar through several modules. Students develop a range of representations of an existing work of architecture.

    The Standard Set project

    A Graphic Canon

    Architectural drawings must be understood as a part of the larger visual culture in which they are produced and received. Here students hone their sense of the culture in which architectural representations are developed and disseminated.

    The Graphic Canon project

    Technologies of Communication and Collaboration

    The class will communicate and collaborate via a variety of technologies. None of these are BCourses or whatever, because your instructor can't stand those. Besides the obvious use of email, the following technologies will be employed:


    G Suite for Education is the Google suite of cloud-based productivity tools branded with UC Berkeley logos. These tools are provided as a part of your "BConnected" account, and includes email, calendar, and (most importantly for us) Google Drive. Much of the course material for the semester will be distributed via Google Drive and shared with your UC Berkeley email account, so please be sure to set up your account and get comfortable with viewing documents in this manner.


    We have set up a Slack workspace for the class, and will invite you all to join using your UC Berkeley email account. Slack is a messaging and file-sharing workspace that operates via a web interface and as a mobile application. Most class communications will be sent using this technology, so please do set it up right away, configure it so you receive notifications, and monitor it closely!


    BOX is a file-sharing and syncing service (similar to Dropbox) provided to you free of charge along with your UC Berkeley CalNet account. The course will be using Box as a mechanism for instructors to distribute tutorial and sample files to students, and will serve as a platform for students to share files with one another. Please setup your account as soon as your Berkeley email is activated. For more information, see this article on UC Berkeley and BOX.


    This thing you're looking at now is how I'll present most of my lectures for 200c. You can always count on being sent a link to any lectures I offer, and can rely on them remaining up for the remainder of the semester in case you want to revisit anything that I covered. If you're really curious, you can find an archive of my past lectures (both offered in the context of a course like this and, well, not) at the link below.