Seminar: Technology


ARCH 571




These advanced faculty-initiated seminars provide opportunities for students to conduct in-depth investigations of select topics related to building materials and construction technologies. The topics typically align with faculty’s current research.

Summer 2022

ARCH 571C: Performative Wood: High Performance Robotic Assemblies

AnnaLisa Meyboom

Performative Wood will investigate what innovations in robotic fabrication could mean for design in this material. As technology advances and drawing in architecture becomes more closely engaged with fabrication through digital design tools, how we conceive of architecture and the role of the designer become more closely entwined. 

Innovation in material and fabrication have changed the language of architecture in the past and will continue to do so. Wood can be seen as the material of this century because of its sustainable and renewable properties. To look at the synergies of the characteristics of this material in a new way and combine this with robotic fabrication may bring some interesting developments in design language which is what this seminar hopes to engage. 

The pedagogical objectives of the seminar are to introduce students to the potential of the robotic fabrication technology and to have them work on a design which engages this technology so as to obtain fluency with the technology. As such, we will fabricate small scale prototypes on the 8-axis KUKA robot which is housed in the Centre of Advanced Wood Processing at UBC. 

As part of the seminar you will be required to do the Robot Made Workshop which is held from Saturday, June 4 to Wednesday, June 8, 2022. The fee for the workshop is discounted for students in the course and is $150.

Open to MArch and Dual Degree students; BDes students may be admitted with instructor permission.

Winter 2022/23

Term 1

ARCH 571A: The Staircase

Greg Johnson

Stairs in dry stone wall, West Bretton, Wakefield, Yorkshire, UK

The staircase is certainly one of the most expressive components available to the architect in the development of a design. Its placement impacts functionality, determines spatial relationships, permitting it to either recede into the background or form a singular freestanding autonomous feature. Understanding the key design elements of this rather complex and intriguing component is therefore essential to the architect.

Through readings, discussions, and assignments, this seminar course will explore the staircase as a significant architectural component from a number of perspectives:

  • role of the staircase as vertical circulation, as spatial organizer, as choreographer of events, as free-standing element, as obstacle.
  • history of the staircase
  • anatomy of the staircase, its geometry, relationship to human gait, and critical dimensions and configurations
  • staircase construction & detailing with various materials
  • safety, accessibility, and building code requirements

Pre-requisites:  ARCH 511, ARCH 512 and familiarity with 2D and 3D design software

Term 2

ARCH 571B: The Art and Craft of Architectural Detailing

Greg Johnson

RVdM Arquitecto, House in Agra, Esgueira, Portugal

This course will introduce to students the concept of the architectural detail and its important contribution to the success of an architectural design project. Through focused readings on the subject, and through reviewing precedent examples, students will develop their personal approach to detailing, and be able to explore it throughout the term on an individual design project.

The students will develop an understanding of architectural details and their relationship to the overall design of a building, including their role in:

  • addressing technical performance issues (in particular with respect to issues of the building enclosure, movement and durability)
  • strengthening historical associations
  • articulating a building’s mass
  • expressing or denying the scale of building elements
  • explaining or disguising a building’s structural behaviour (static and dynamic loads, movement)
  • expressing or concealing a building’s materiality, construction elements and assembly procedures
  • to gain familiarity with techniques, tools and resources to assist in the development of successful building details

The following courses (or their equivalents) are prerequisite and/or corequisite for this course:

  • ARCH 511 Architectural Technology 1, ARCH 531 Architectural Technology 2
  • ARCH 513 Environmental Systems & Controls 1, ARCH 533 Environmental Systems & Controls 2
  • ARCH 512 Structures 1, ARCH 532 Structures 2
  • Familiarity with 2D and 3D CAD applications

Open to the following student groups: MArch, Dual Degree