Process Catalog | The Unit


In his essay ‘Design Process’, Hideo Sasaki illustrates the fundamentals of the thinking process.  He suggests that critical thinking is the answer to understanding and solving problems basic design decisions.  According to Sasaki, the use of research, analysis, and synthesis work together to find the best solution.  Sasaki advocates for an analytical point of view as a means to solve a series of problems.  This method may be effective for determining solutions to issues that arise throughout the design process, however, it lacks a fluidity and poetry that allows the designer to reach a full potential of creativity from the early stages of design.  At the beginning of the design process, it is crucial to be flexible and open to change.  Although Sasaki suggests that that an analytical standpoint “increases the fluidity of thinking”, an over simplification of a system which relies on solution finding rather than exploring could be limiting.

‘The Art of Site Planning” by Kevin Lynch and Gary Hack argues for a cyclical form of site design rather than linier.There are particular steps that must be considered throughout the process of designing a space.However, these steps are not necessarily chronological or exist in a pure predetermined form.The authors view a site as an element that exists throughout time rather than a point in time.It is important to consider the history of a place as well as the future use of a place.

This week our studio design team shifted focus to refining our concept and determining a formal language to unite our systems-based design.   For our concept, we chose to focus on three forms of lifecycle inquiry: 24/7 cycles, seasonality, and trans-generational interaction.  As for formal concepts, we were inspired by a combination of the Greek Stoa, and the 2016 Tangshan Organic Farm project by ARCHSTUDIO.  I will be using the next few posts as a way of cataloguing some of my process work for this project, entering a period of greater design exploration.   

The Unit

The Tangshan Organic Farm project inspired our team because of its beautiful and simple form as well as its functionality.  The spaces are designed so that none of the buildings have a real “back”.  This aspect is particularly attractive to us because we are so interested in maximization.  ARCHSTUDIO achieved this condition by employing a 6’x12’ unit that is copied and pasted throughout the project. 

The Unit achieves multiple objectives. 

It produces a simple, repeatable form that can be constructed by any local team.

It is comprised of a small number of materials, all which can be obtained locally.

It builds on itself to create open and flexible spaces.

It generates a consistent form in which to deploy LBC systems.

For these reasons, we chose to explore a unit based system for creating built form on our site. My first mode of operation was to explore a series of operations which could act on a 6’x12’ unit to create different formal solutions. I consulted ‘Operative Design: A Catalog of Spacial Verbs’ by Anthony Di Mari for this process.


After exploring these opperations, I began to imagine how the volume unit could break up into columns and roofs to create real-life solutions for our project.


Next, I started to apply these units into repeating organizations to understand how they could function as a part of a greater whole.


Next. I will begin a series of inquiries to determine an organization in plan, that fits the project site.