Seminar in Architecture


ARCH 544




These advanced faculty-initiated seminars provide opportunities for students to conduct in-depth investigations of select topics in architecture. The topics typically align with faculty’s current research.

Summer 2022

ARCH 544E: Weather Register

Chris Macdonald

This seminar begins with the proposition that the mutual regard between natural and human processes while not always benign, is equally not always adversarial. The course looks at the procedures and expressions at various scales of design in which the relationship between human and natural interests might become sublime.

Issues of intention and degrees of finesse are nearly always at the forefront of the varied case studies. These include a wedge of 2x4's holding a granite retaining wall… a shelterbelt of planted vegetation holding back the 1930’s North American dustbowl… the subtle difference between chalk and knapped flint… and so on.

The topic opens up an immense reservoir of consideration for would-be architects and landscape architects and bring into closer focus a miscellany of provocative aspects of the world that we live in.

Open to all SALA students. 

ARCH 544H: The Architecture of Contemporary Housing

Matthew Soules

This seminar will survey a range of key texts relating to the design of housing in the 21st Century alongside examining innovative proposed and realized housing projects from around the world. Themes will include affordability, identity, environmental performance, ways of living, aesthetics, and form.

Students can expect assigned readings for each class and two assignments: one smaller assignment for mid-term and one final paper. Class discussion will play a central role in the course.

Open to MArch and Dual Degree students. 

ARCH 544J: Housing Justice is Climate Justice

Inge Roecker

This research seminar looks at aspects of housing through a multitude of lenses from livability, affordability, health and well-being and its impacts on climate. We will constantly ask ourselves: what is the relationship between climate justice and housing justice?

The seminar will look at dwelling as a social act in relationship to ideas, resources and production. We look at the development of housing types in Vancouver with a focus on multi-unit dwellings. We first look back on influences and ideas that shaped home and the production of home. We then consider the present and future ideas and trends. Vancouver’s multi-unit housing development will set the context for our explorations with an outward look to the world to discuss what influenced us or set us apart.

The seminar structure will be divided in 3 parts, each day starts with a guest lecture discussing the relationships between technical, social, economic, and political factors influencing the shape of our housing landscape, followed by a group discussion of a prepared reading combined with learning from the lecture, the third part will vary from in class workshops and student presentations.

Open to SALA graduate students. 

ARCH 544P: West Coast Modernism Revisited

Leslie Van Duzer

 This course will examine West Coast Modern architecture and landscapes in British Columbia from the postwar period between 1940 and the mid-1960s. The course format includes an introductory seminar; tours of residential, institutional and commercial buildings and landscapes; and conversations with historians, clients, architects, photographers, and activists. Students will be expected to complete a series of readings and reflection pieces.

All participants must be available Monday-Friday 10:00-6:00 for two weeks. (There is the possibility of one overnight trip.) Assignments will include readings and reflections. Note this course has a fee of approximately $250 to $500; exact fee TBD.

Open to SALA graduate students and BDes year 3 students. 

ARCH 544Y: Design-build II: Vancouver

Mari Fujita

Every summer the Powell Street Festival Society (PSFS) puts on a Japanese-Canadian festival in the Downtown Eastside, where the Japanese community used to live and own businesses pre WW2. The neighbourhood is occupied by more marginalized residents now, so the PSFS tries very hard to be good guests when they run the festival over one weekend in August.

Lately, and especially last summer with the heat dome, the festival disrupted some of the ad hoc cooling/mister installations that were installed in the neighbourhood.

The intention of the design-build is design and build something (s) for the public realm that incorporates water/cooling, shade, etc.

The hope is that the design developed in 2021W2 and built in 2022S can have a life after the festival and be lent out to other summer festivals that also struggle with water/cooling/shade. The design intervention will thus act as an ambassador from the PSFS to other neighbourhoods in the city.

Open to MArch, MLA and Dual Degree students. Interested students may contact Mari Fujita at identifying their background and interest in participating in the course. Deadline to communicate interest is Sunday, March 13. Undergraduate students register in DES 450.

Winter 2022/23

ARCH 544C: Material Ecologies in Design 

Joe Dahmen

Material Ecologies in Design explores new paradigms of architectural materiality.

Contemporary design approaches blur the boundaries between art, design, science and technology.   Exploiting the design potentials of disciplinary entanglement requires approaching design as a trans—or even anti—disciplinary endeavour across scales.  The course is structured as a seminar. Design research on emergent materials will be augmented by case studies of contemporary design firms and theoretical readings.  A term project done in teams or individually will explore the themes of the course through the development of a speculative design proposal using an emergent material for a current studio project or architectural installation. 

Open to all SALA graduate students.