The book Basics Architecture 03: Architectural Design by Jane Anderson introduces and discusses the dynamic varsity involved in the architectural design process. The book has been organized into three parts: the design studio, the design process and the design project. Each of these topics discusses the start-to-end operations architectural designers undertake to reach where they are. The discussions in the book enable the reader to create a unique perspective on architectural design based on their ideas, competencies, and preoccupations through various discourses and case studies. The book describes the design studio and explains its activities, placing architectural design education within its framework. In-depth research is done on the reality of the design process and the connection between theory and practice. The book features interviews with top architectural firms and details every development phase, from concept to completion. 

The studio culture

Book in Focus: Basics Architecture 03: Architectural Design by Jane Anderson - Sheet1
Design studio_©

No architecture student, professor or professional could deny the importance of the design studio culture. Unlike other higher education majors, it is considered very important and unique to architectural education. The studio is a space to develop and test design ideas before implementing them. It is a place for “research, experimentation, discussion and testing of ideas”, where students learn by doing things practically rather than simply studying them from textbooks. By reviewing each other’s work and developing sophisticated dialogue between colleagues, architects recognize and address design problems together. They can end up discussing endless possibilities. The more minds contributing to a discussion, the more ideas, perspectives, and proposals are generated. However, each design proposal is unique to the designer, making design an individual act.

The design process

Book in Focus: Basics Architecture 03: Architectural Design by Jane Anderson - Sheet2
The design process_©

The book describes the design process as not being linear but rather having a cyclical pattern. The design process requires finding creative solutions to complex problems. This means that there are many different types of approaches to architectural design. The author describes one approach as intuitive, which she defines as a creative process which develops according to natural human tendencies and abilities. Intuition is the ability to understand something immediately, without conscious effort. Rational thought is based on logic and reason, often used in conjunction with intuition in design processes. The rational approach involves a logical process in which designers follow step-by-step instructions from their clients or employers on how to proceed from one stage of their project through to completion. Another approach described in this book is called “the design project”. This refers to when an architect designs an entire building site (or sometimes multiple sites) over time without knowing what will happen after all else has been completed. 

The book describes how these two approaches can be used in the design process along with other techniques such as brainstorming sessions, concept generation exercises (to generate ideas about the project), and visualization techniques for generating hypotheses about spaces or objects within them (3D modelling software like SketchUp). In these workshops, designers meet together over several weeks to develop ideas on paper before starting work on their designs.

The design project

Book in Focus: Basics Architecture 03: Architectural Design by Jane Anderson - Sheet3
An architectural review_©

The design project is a type of approach to architecture that is usually used in the context of a specific building. It can create an entire environment or just one room within a larger space. The design project aims to create something that has meaning and purpose while being aesthetically pleasing and functional.

Some examples include:

  • A restaurant with its bar area facing out onto the street (where customers can see each other)
  • An apartment building that has windows all along its perimeter so that there are no dead spaces between where people live and where they work or relax
  • A hospital that has rooms for different medical procedures and services, with a separate area for patients to relax and recover from their procedures before heading home

The book goes on to talk about the relationship between form and function. The form is the physical appearance of a building, while the function is the use of a building. Form and function are inseparable; they cannot be separated without losing something essential. For example, an apartment building can have many different forms. However, suppose its inhabitants do not live there. In that case, it will have no purpose or value as a place to live since it was never intended for human habitation in the first place!

The design ought to be people-centric

The purpose of design is to determine what is best for people. Designing for people means designing by a process, not just for the product. It also means designing an experience and not just a thing. It is about creating something that you cannot get anywhere else but still fits into your life and makes it better.

Designing for people does not mean making products with many features. It is more like taking one small idea, thinking about how it might work or fail in practice, and then figuring out what would work best. According to Anderson, such experiments for the project would take place within the design studio. 


The book is an excellent read for anyone interested in architectural design and how it can be applied to different projects. The author does an excellent job of explaining the different types of approaches that architects use when designing buildings, as well as citing examples. She also gives valuable tips on creating your design ideas based on these theories. I recommend this book if you are looking at taking up architecture again after some time away from it or even if you need help figuring out where else to start!


Madiha Khanam is an architect and an enthusiast writer. She approaches writing as a creative medium to pen-down her thoughts just like drawing and illustrating. She loves to read and write about architecture, engineering, and psychology. Besides, she loves to watch anime.

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