Architectural Design Studio (ADST) 690

Diploma Project (Revision 1)

ADST 690 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. Students will have the remainder of the 48 weeks to complete and submit their final diploma 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 690: Diploma Project is intended for students enrolled in the Graduate Diploma in Architecture (GDA) at the RAIC Centre for Architecture at Athabasca University.

Credits: 6

Area of Study: Applied Studies

Prerequisite: ADST 675

Centre: RAIC Centre for Architecture

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ADST 690: Diploma Project is the final project of your educational experience in the ADST architectural design studios, leading to the Graduate Diploma in Architecture. This project can be either a building design or a research project. The Diploma Project connects architectural theory and practice through the advanced study of professional and cultural issues that give purpose and meaning to design.

A building design project, for example, may resolve an existing problem through a new and innovative project or design solution, while a research project may involve academic research and critical analysis of a theoretical problem, with the goal of developing a solution with application beyond a single project and which is of use to other practitioners in the field. For ADST 690, either kind of project must involve a critical analysis of the problem, which is an essential skill for architects.

Course Outline

As noted above, the Diploma Project may be one of the following:

  • a building design with a thoroughly analyzed complex functional program that you have developed; or
  • a research project that you have initiated.

You have a choice which of these two projects to undertake but the specific topic must be approved by your academic expert.

A research project may or may not involve a design component involving a building or space in the traditional sense. It may include research into building science, building technology or building materials, the development of a new building typology, a prototype, a set of guidelines, a set of policies, or another architectural topic. You must find a suitable project that will provide an effective solution to a problem.

If the Diploma Project is to result in a building, the following written documents must be prepared:

  • statement of intent
  • project proposal
  • project program
  • final presentation.

You are responsible for conceptualizing, framing, and realizing the project under the supervision of your academic expert, the Director (of the RAIC Centre for Architecture) and the external Advisor(s), requested by you and approved by the academic expert and Director.

Throughout this course, you must maintain a sketchbook capturing personal engagement with the Studio, thoughts and observations on you work and that of others, design explorations you considered and abandoned, your interactions with critics and fellow students, and questions that remain unanswered. The sketchbook is a required element of all Design Studio courses.

You are encouraged to engage your academic expert often throughout the course. Their experience and knowledge will be a valuable resource as you develop your design thinking and they will act as a sounding board for your design ideas.

You are required to develop a Personal Archive on your computer to store materials that are pertinent to your studies. This can include images, texts, scanned drawings, models, and websites. If this is your first course using a Personal Archive at Athabasca University, please carefully read Archives and Collections. It will familiarize you with concepts behind a Personal Archive and with design, organizational tools, and formats that can help you achieve a workable collection. Your Personal Archive will be central to your studies throughout the program and to your ongoing career.

Course Description

During the first 13 weeks, 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 is intended to be a productive working session much like you would experience in an architect’s office. You will receive a full set of instructions for connecting to the virtual studio.

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 and 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, which accounts for client and user needs, appropriate precedents, space and equipment requirements, relevant laws and standards, and site selection and design assessment criteria.
  6. Ability to produce and document a comprehensive architectural project based on a building program and a site, which includes the development of forms and spaces demonstrating an understanding of structural and environmental systems, building envelope systems, building assemblies, and life safety provisions, and of the principles of sustainability and environmental stewardship.

Course Evaluation

Your work in this course will be evaluated based on two 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
Project 1A. Diploma Project Proposal Week 10 15%
Presentation: Diploma Project Proposal Week 10  
Project 1B. Preliminary Development Week 20 20%
Presentation: Preliminary Review Week 20  
Project 1C. Intermediate Development
Week 30 25%
Presentation: Intermediate Review Week 30  
Project 1D. Final Development Week 48 30%
Presentation: Final Review Week 48  
Project 2A. Reflecting on What You Have Learned / Studio Collection Week 48  10%
Project 2B. Submit 2 images to the Gallery.    
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

This course does not charge a learning resource fee.


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

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 2 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, July 8, 2016.