Investigating the Tectonic: Grounding Theory in the Study of Precedents

By Chad Schwartz.

Published by The International Journal of Architectonic, Spatial, and Environmental Design

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published Online: December 22, 2015 $US5.00

The blank page can be intimidating for an architecture student. When starting a project, there are multiple devices that can be employed to alleviate the novice student of this anxiety. One such tool is precedent analysis. The study of precedents provides key lessons - relationships between components, systems of order, means of connection, and conceptual partis, to name just a few - that can be used as building blocks to form new work; the precedent becomes a spark of inspiration, a conveyor of information, and a foundation for growth. As Simon Unwin states, “Both evolutionary development and contradictory revolution depend on understanding what has gone before.” This paper presents a platform for urging students to engage with high-quality samples of the built environment. The conclusion offered is that architecture students, especially those in undergraduate programs, need more resources and activities to assist in understanding the design of architecture. Through thoughtful study of the past projects, developing students can find catalysts for their own work while also advancing their understanding of design strategies and helping them to connect design theory with the actual creation of space.

Keywords: Architecture, Design Studies, Precedent

The International Journal of Architectonic, Spatial, and Environmental Design, Volume 10, Issue 1, March, 2016, pp.1-12. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published Online: December 22, 2015 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.624MB)).

Chad Schwartz

Assistant Professor, School of Architecture, College of Applied Sciences and Arts, Southern Illinois University - Carbondale, Carbondale, IL, USA