Seminar in design


DES 450




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

Summer 2022

DES 450T: 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.

Prerequisites: DES 330

Open to 3rd year BDes 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.

DES 450F: 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. 

DES 450H: Building Information Management: Architectural Production with Revit
Roy Cloutier

This eight-week intensive course pairs pragmatic training with a critical perspective, placing Building Information Management in the context of the broader historical and sociotechnical shifts in architectural production that it is precipitating. It couples the technical learning of an increasingly-widespread architectural design and representation tool, Autodesk Revit, with critical reflection on the use of Revit as a design medium, the analytic opportunities its use can provide, and the design approaches to which it is conducive.

Fundamental techniques will be introduced through in-class exercises and workshops; simultaneously, these techniques will be applied through an ongoing, semester-long study of an exemplary precedent building. 

Prerequisites: Design Media I and II or equivalent experience with 2D and/or 3D CAD software.

Open to all SALA students. 

DES 450I: Exploring Grammars and Algorithms in Architecture at the Neighbourhood Scale
Thomas Gaudin

DES 450I is a computational design course that will explore the applications and creative misapplications of common digital workflows utilizing primarily but not solely Grasshopper. 

The course is roughly divided in to four topics: site modeling utilizing LIDAR and GIS data, parametric optimization and programs (the architectural kind), voxel based parametric design, and virtual representation

Prerequisites: Design Media I and II.

Open to all SALA students. 

DES 450P: 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. 

Winter 2022

DES 450R: Seeing Environment
Daniel Roehr

Course also suitable for Civil Engineering Programs, Planning (SCARP) Programs, MEL and Geography

Seeing Environment teaches how to ‘see’ the environment with the five senses: touch, taste, sound, smell and sight. This course strives to extend current visual literacy teaching practices in design to include all the main senses, what the instructor calls multi-sensorial literacy. Multi-sensorial literacy is the method to teach students to consciously observe the world around them using all five senses and to understand, analyze and interpret these experiences through traditional recording tools such as sketching, mapping, collages, text and later on digital recording tools. The course content is based on the recent book manuscript of the instructor’s new book called Sense-ible Design: Interacting with the Landscape for Designers, exp. 2021, Routledge.

The course is structured as a series of weekly assignments including 2-3 selected readings, seminar discussions, in class and online drawing tutorials together on ZOOM, concise instruction lectures recorded on CANVAS and field assignments to be carried weather permitting locally. The assignments are posted weekly on a UBC blog created by the students, see example from 20202018, and an article describing the course by a former graduate student can be reviewed here including a link to a final course publication. 

In the first three-four weeks the course emphasizes the importance and effectiveness of fast sketching as a basic tool of seeing (sight), recording and analyzing and communicating the environment around us before the assignments switch to practice the observation and recording of the other senses: touch, taste, sound and smell. The first weeks’ assignments help to understand the different elements which make up the complex, built and natural environment at different scales around us. It teaches students through the use of more complex analytical drawing exercises, to practice to see the unseen and communicate how different elements in the environment make up the complex whole. The assignments for the rest, the main part of the term, encourage combining sketch observation and recording with digital tools (photography, video and sound) on the smartphone. The aim of these assignments is to observe and record other stimuli (taste, sound, touch and smell) perceived in the environment and practice ways those stimuli can be communicated (visually and orally), and inspire the ideation and design process in the future.

Learning Objectives

  • Learn to see the environment around us multi-sensorially
  • Learn to sketch quickly to analyze, communicate and document called visual literacy
  • Learn how to use digital tools (photography, video and sound) to observe, record, analyze, and communicate (visually and orally) and document the findings
  • Learn how to combine visual literacy with digital tools to see the environment in a multi-sensorial way, called multi-sensorial literacy


  • Be positive about seeing the environment inclusively - multi-sensorially
  • Be inquisitive, self-critical, and reflective
  • Try to engage in constructive critical discussion about your own and your colleagues work
  • Share your ideas, knowledge, resources, and skills to raise the quality of everyone's work

Open to the following student groups: All of SALA