A. Pitt

Wentworth Institute of Technology (UNITED STATES)
This paper proposes that the use of the section in architectural design generates more possibilities for spatial connections than when it is not used and that it opens a new awareness that increases the students’ critical thinking skills providing them with new methods of thought and expression. It is based on an Advanced Topics seminar taught in the spring semester of the one year graduate program.

The order of the architectural design process of plan, section, elevation is assumed to be the established process. This method of design commonly used begins with ‘the plan as the generator’. This method limits and possibly negates the sectional possibilities of a project. This seminar conducted in depth analysis of sections and their spatial potentials. Light and darkness, the ground and the sky, glimpses versus full view, and sequences are all sectional elements that were discussed. There were field trips to experience various sectional ideas and students engaged in discussions and making to explore sectional opportunities in their individual thesis projects. Analysis and explorations were through drawings and models at a range of scales. The main historical influence was Jacques Lemercier’s sectional drawing of the Caprarola Palace in the seventeenth century, one of the earliest sectional drawings. The idea of ‘the free plan” is familiar to us all. In this seminar we investigated the idea of ‘the free section’ and the opportunities it provides for spatial connections.

Students gained an understanding of the power of the architectural section in space making and developed a full understanding that architectural design is not a linear process and there is no one correct way to begin this process. The conclusion shows how these new methods enhanced the students’ process in their architectural thesis studio projects. Clear examples are included to support this conclusion.