In architecture school, your design has the most value, but it helps to create a good impression by doing a case study that stands out.
1. Plan ahead.
I know, this is the most obvious and needless advice. But it pays to plan ahead. Case studies are done in groups and you know your project from day one. So why not fix a case study then and there, so that you have the best case studies before another group snatches that project?
2. Have a Plan B
Flash news- things dont happen as you hope it will and people aren't nice. I have had experiences where people have asked money for doing a case study of their building, or they say that they changed their mind when we reached the site. Sometimes all goes well until they tell you that they cannot share the drawings of their precious building. What if someone copies the floor plan?! Another scenario is when you get there and realise painfully that the case study is far from the requirements of your design brief.
So in case such a thing happens, make sure you have another case study secured.
3. Archdaily is not the last stop for a literature case study.
Throughout college, I had to scourge literature case studies from the internet. Sometimes I would come across a good project but would be turned away because I could not find any drawings. More often than not, Archdaily was the source of the drawings. But when we print it we would find that the resolution is really bad and we coudn't make out the scale.
The teachers would tell us to mark it ourselves, denote the length of the doors as .90m and find all other measurements taking that as a benchmark.
But has it occurred to anyone that we can actually ask the architects? Here is another fact for you from someone who has worked in an architecture magazine. Foriegn architects are nicer than the folks in India, and some of them are eager to help students. So before resorting to printing that low resolution floor plans for your review, consider sending a mail to a couple of offices.
4. Do a SWOT analysis.
A SWOT analysis is a tool that is used for site analysis but it can also be used to help you to systematically unravel the workings of your case study. So have a discussion with your group members and do a SWOT analysis. It would really help if you start doing it as you do the tour of the project itself. Have a notepad and jot down the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Try to understand the opportunities and threats that the site presented before the architect and how he solved them.
5. Ask the users about their experience.
We may be architects in the making but we need not understand all the finer details of using the building like the actual users does. So make sure you talk with the users, especially regular workers about their experience. Ask for both positives and negetives.
6. Do not dwell on the introduction of the case study.
You are lucky, you got a tour of the building and got the floor plans and other drawings. Now to do the case study. Where to start? A set of drawings are before you, you do the natural thing, you read the plan. You list down the materials used, draw the circulation paths, probably in different colours for the different types of users. You mark the private, semi private and public areas, the service spaces etc. Create a complicated looking couple of sheets.
This is the place where most students derail off the right track, during the review, they do a presentation of their case study. Not a “case study”. The truth is that the lecturers dont want to listen to you telling them where is the entry and exit, where is the swimming pool etc. They want to know if you have learned anything of note from observing the plan. And trust me they dont want to hear you go on and on about the concept of the project either. Keep the introduction concise.
7. List the merits and demerits.
List down the merits and demerits of the case study. What are you going to employ in your design, taking inspiration from the case study? And equally important is what you will avoid as well. Another frequent mistake is (especially if the project was by an acclaimed architect) when you will dwell on the positives and contribute significantly less negetives. You have to point out the negetives as well if you want your case study to stand out.
8. Propose alternatives.
Another factor that can make your case study better is proposing alternatives, find a demerit of the design and propose an alternative that would solve it, provided your alternative is well informed. This will convince your lecturers that you are serious about designing the project and really want to learn from the case study, which will definitely reflect on your marks.
So now that you have a clear direction on your case study and is ready to make a good impression, you can start slaving for your design. Happy working, and don't let the depression and anxiety bite!