Architectural Design Studio (ADST) 675

Urban and Environmental Design (Revision 1)

ADST 675 Course Cover

Delivery Mode: Paced online, Group study – (Students are required to attend one 3 hour evening video teleconference session per week during the first 13 weeks. Although ADST 675 is a 3 credit course, students will have 48 weeks to complete and submit the design projects).

This course will be offered in January, May and September. You may contact the FST Student Success Centre at 1-855-362-2870 for confirmation of other offerings.

Architectural Design Studio 675: Urban and Environmental Design is intended for students enrolled in the Graduate Diploma in Architecture (GDA) at the RAIC Centre for Architecture at Athabasca University.

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Applied Studies

Prerequisite: ADST 655

Centre: RAIC Centre for Architecture

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ADST 675: Urban and Environmental Design continues the development of architectural design. In this Studio, you will produce a design for a project within an urban living environment. You will undertake a detailed analysis of a moderately large urban space, for which you will produce written design guidelines. This requires that you understand the structure of the site, network of paths and roadways, utility corridors, and so on. You will also examine historical and heritage sites, urban housing, public and private spaces, pedestrian and traffic patterns, responses to environmental issues and ecosystems, and provisions for nature in the city.

Course Outline

This studio course requires three formal presentations. In addition, each week, you will be asked to share your work in progress with your academic expert and the other students in the studio. This weekly session is the equivalent of a desk critique (a session during which the architecture student sits down with their instructor to review their designs) given in a face-to-face studio.

These interactive meetings will be held in an online environment that includes video conferencing, audio conferencing, and social media, and will allow the academic expert to provide feedback in the form of sketches, beside, or as a layer over your work. This type of session is intended to be a productive working session much like you would experience in an architect’s office. Upon registration, you will receive a full set of instructions for connecting to the virtual studio.

The table below summarizes project requirements.

Project Requirement
Project 1A, Design Brief At least 3 online critiques with your academic expert
Initial Presentation: Design Brief  
Project 1B. Schematic Design At least 5 online critiques with your academic expert
Mid-term Presentation: Schematic Design  
Project 1C. Design Development At least 8 online critiques with your academic expert
Final Presentation: Design Development  
Project 2A. Reflecting on What You Have Learned  
Project 2B. Submit 2 images to the Gallery.  

Course Description

 This course is valued at three credits, and is intended for students enrolled in the Graduate Diploma in Architecture (GDA) at the RAIC Centre for Architecture at Athabasca University.

The course has two projects, the first of which is to be completed in stages. Each stage introduces an important skill that will enhance your abilities as a designer, and provides opportunities for you to develop your own approach to design.

You will also want to use your paper sketchbook to sketch in, take notes, answer study questions, state personal learning goals, and jot down ideas. Key pages can be scanned and stored in your Personal Archive.

Learning Outcomes

Adapted from Canadian Architectural Certification Board, Canadian Education Standard.

After successfully completing this course, you should have developed:

  1. Understanding of the fundamentals of visual perception and the principles and systems of order that inform two- and three-dimensional design, architectural composition, and urban design.
  2. Ability to use appropriate representational media, including freehand drawing and computer technology, to convey essential information at each stage of the pre-design and design process.
  3. Ability to make technically precise drawings and develop an outline specification for a proposed building.
  4. Ability to apply fundamental architectural principles in the design of buildings, interior spaces and sites, and to respond to natural and built site characteristics in the development of a program and the design of a project.
  5. Ability to prepare a comprehensive program for an architectural project that accounts for client and user needs, appropriate precedents, space and equipment requirements, the relevant laws and standards, and site selection and design assessment criteria.

Course Evaluation

Your work in this course will be evaluated based on five projects. You are required to scan and submit your projects to your academic expert via the Project links on the course home page. Each project is weighted as shown below. Note that your participation in discussions and your sharing of resources will contribute to your grade.

Study Schedule

Project Due Weight
Select your Project 1 option.    
Project 1A. Design Brief Week 10 15%
Initial Presentation: Design Brief Week 10  
Project 1B. Schematic Design Week 24 30%
Mid-term Presentation: Schematic Design Week 24  
Project 1C. Final Project Week 48 45%
Final Presentation Week 48  
Project 2A: Reflecting on What You Have Learned Week 48 10%
Project 2B. Gallery Images Week 48  
Total   100%

 You must complete all projects. A final course grade of 67% or higher is required to pass the course.

All work completed for each assignment must be original and must conform to the policies and guidelines outlined in the Athabasca University Student Manual. Essays must follow APA style.

You may wish to consult the university’s Write Site resource centre to review writing processes; you will find APA style guidelines under on the Documentation and Plagiarism page.

Course Materials


Although there is no textbook for this studio, the academic experts may assign readings as they deem appropriate during the course.

Optional readings

Gehl, Jan. (2010). Cities for people. Washington, DC: Island Press.

Jacobs, Jane. (1992). The death and life of great American cities. New York: Vintage.

Lynch, Kevin. (2012). The image of the city. [Reprint]. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Register, Richard. (2006). Ecocities: Rebuilding cities in balance with nature. Gabriola, BC: New Society Publishers.

Thadani, Dhiru A. (2010). The language of towns and cities: A visual dictionary. New York: Rizzoli.

Student-Provided Tools and Equipment

You must provide a digital camera for your own use, as well as a few other tools. The items you will need to provide are listed below:

Photography tools:

  • Smartphone with camera, or digital camera (SLR preferable)

Drawing materials:

  • 35.56cm × 43.18cm (14” × 17”) Strathmore 300 series acid-free drawing paper
  • 22.86cm × 30.48cm (9” × 12”) Strathmore 300 series sketchbook
  • white or beige 2-ply card stock
  • trace paper

Drawing tools:

  • 0.30 mm precision felt pen (or similar).
  • 2H to 2B pencils or mechanical pencils
  • coloured markers and/or pencil crayons
  • compass
  • protractor
  • ruler
  • drawing board (recommended)

Modeling materials:

  • white or beige 2-ply card stock
  • clear plastic sheet

Modeling tools:

Use of Computers

You may use computers to design and complete your projects for this studio (except where noted), but remember that hand drawing and modeling skills remain essential to the development of an architect and we encourage you to use those skills wherever possible.

Course Home Page (online): The course home page houses all the online components of your course.

Course Information (online): The Course Information provides specific information about how to proceed through the course. Read the Course Information carefully before you begin reading the Study Guide.

Projects (online): The 3 projects are embedded on the course home page.

Forms: Forms you may need are available through the myAU portal.

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

Opened in Revision 1, August 2, 2016.