Architecture, Building and Planning

Research: The primary research challenge is to find articles about neuroscience (or cognitive science more generally) that are relevant to your chosen theme in architecture, and then to explore how the neuroscience offers a fresh approach to the architecture.

Use of Precedents: Ability to examine and comprehend the fundamental principles present in relevant precedents in both neuroscience and architecture and to make informed choices about the incorporation of such principles into architecture and urban design projects.

Project Documentation: Ability to make clear drawings, freehand sketches, sound/film recordings, models, and/or other physical artefacts, which inform and illuminate research in neuroscience and architecture and the linkage between them, also showing paths for future development of the research/design topic.

Verbal and Written Communication: In both your writing and oral presentations you will demonstrate that you have a clear understanding of a problem in architecture, a mastery of a key set of relevant findings in neuroscience, and that you have made progress on the architectural problem in a way that demonstrably builds on the findings in neuroscience that you have surveyed.

Course Project Description

For this course project you will select a topic in Architecture which poses well-defined challenges in understanding relevant processes in, e.g., perception, memory, social interaction, wayfinding, and various forms of functionality. You will then search the neuroscience literature (e.g., using references in the readings supplied so far, library searches and Google Scholar) to find key readings in neuroscience relevant to your chosen topic. The topic may relate to one of our weekly topics in the course syllabus or it may be your own.

Your work on the project will be incremental, divided into three phases as described below. Here we state some overall requirements. The project must include both research and design phases. After developing a hypothesis and a detailed methodology for your investigation, you will create the design project to be used as a tool (or series of tools) by which you will test your hypothesis. The focus will be on applying your research in neuroscience concepts to a unique design project, tailored to investigate your chosen topic. You may consult course project examples, at the bottom of this assignment, for ideas.

The challenge is not to explore your topic only “within” architecture but also within neuroscience (and cognitive science more generally) and develop an integrated perspective that spans the disciplines. You are encouraged to think about your course project as a “mini-Thesis”, in which you tackle an original topic that will contribute to the world’s understanding of neuroscience and architecture and the different ways in which these two disciplines can enrich one another.

Course Project Deliverables:

Part 1: (due on Friday, April 29 at 9am – Week 3) – Physical Document and E-mail Submission

Submit: Submit this work as a WORD file, by e-mailing to Prof. Berger and Prof. Arbib before 4pm on Friday. Please e-mail only one file and include your full name in the file title. Send the e-mail to both Professors.

Also hand in the work at the start of class, at 9am on Friday. Make sure to staple all pages in the document and include your name and date. Incomplete work will not be accepted. Proofread for spelling/grammar errors.

Grading: This will count as one of your 3 neuroscience/design exercises – all together, these 3 exercises are 20% of your course grade.

1. Abstract (approx. 1 page, minimum, double-spaced text): Describe the research topic, your reasons for selecting the topic, and what you hope to learn. Include any background information which you feel is appropriate and necessary to explain the project and its goals.

2. Hypothesis: Specifically, you might define a challenge for architecture then hypothesize how findings from neuroscience (see item 4 below) could be used to get answers that could inform the design process.

3. Methodology: List the research and design tasks, in order, to offer a thoughtful first pass on your proposed set of final “deliverables”.

4. Annotated Bibliography: Use Google Scholar to include at least 5 sources from neuroscience and at least 3 sources from architecture. Include a brief annotation after each source, explaining how you will use the source in your project and which aspects of the text are especially relevant for your research. See Arbib’s Singapore article for how to format a bibliography. Use the (Author,Year) format in the text to cite the references. (Continue to expand your bibliography as you develop your research during the quarter.)

Part 2: Midterm Presentation (due on Friday, May 13 at 9am – Week 5)

Grading: 15% of overall course grade

Note: This material will include revised and expanded work from the initial April 29 submission. New components will also be added to the project.

You will submit a physical document (spiral bound, 8.5×11 in. format, with clear acetate cover in front and hard cover in back). Project the document at your Midterm Presentation to the class. The verbal presentation shall be no longer than 7-10 minutes.