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.

Spring 2023

DES 450C: motley matters: wanderings and fictions of Vancity

Young-Tack Oh

“Whereas anthropology seeks to understand what it means to be human, architecture provides conditions for being human and responds to the human condition” (Askland, Awad, Chambers, Chapman, 2014)

The course will delve into observational and experiential approaches that find relevance in the colloquial. This will allow students to imagine a more holistic approach to socially constructed facets of the built environment. The course is open to all majors both undergraduate and graduate and welcomes the diverse perspectives which students may bring to the table. The aim of the class is to redefine accepted notions of data and find alternative ways to represent them– to find deeper associations and wider implications in little details of everyday life. Respecting the energetic relationships that make up a city and championing the multiplicity of all those involved, the research will aim to cultivate the daily tactics and creative interpretations employed by Vancouverites. Students are invited to experience the city on foot, on wheels, by boat, by rail, or any other means to discover its complexities. The aspirations of the course are guided by three main underlying concepts:

• The situationist dérive, a mode of unplanned wandering through landscapes

• Georges Perec's notion of the infraordinary, denoting the banal, the quotidian, the obvious, the common, the ordinary, and the habitual.

• Kon Wajiro’s studies of Modernology, a method for analyzing contemporary society as it exists ‘now’.

Students will be introduced to a wide range of readings intersecting architecture, fiction, art, anthropology, sociology, and many other disciplines. The course will ultimately build up to a research project based on the students' observations and wanderings of Vancouver. Topics can range from air quality, tree equity index, and indigenous histories to log booming, cruise ships, the number ‘8’, and grow-ops. Students are expected to employ multiple research methodologies ranging from archival and scientific data to participant observations and surveys. The research project will take the form of maps and a curated walk related to the topic.

Registration is open to students in any discipline in year 3 and 4 and all graduate students in any discipline.

As the current Interdisciplinary Design Fellow at the UBC School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture and founding member of Archipleasure, Young-Tack's speculative research explicates on the marginal and overlooked occurrences in contemporary urbanism— how seemingly inconsequential things form the basis of major movements and systems— and from which subversive and more playful interventions are generated.