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PARSONS > Space and Materiality

Space and Materiality

Course Description

(as of January 2013)

This studio course is an active engagement with spaces and materials. Projects introduce students to a variety of skills, tools, media, and methods and utilize Parsons’ modeling facilities and hybrid studio/shop classrooms where firsthand experience affirms the relationship between making and learning. Students confront the many aspects of spaces and materials, such as malleability, weight, texture, color, durability, smell, sound, taste, life cycle, and ecological impact.

The relationship of making and thinking is central to this studio. Students examine their own process and intentions as they experience the relationship between the self and the world around them. Areas of focus include the movement of the body and how it impacts the experience of a project's development and the way that a choice of material or tool can change the way that an idea grows. Drawing and imaging are used as exploratory tools to visualize ideas as well as to create work plans that can be developed in the modeling facilities and studio. Discussion, critique, and written responses offer opportunities for students to communicate ideas about their projects and those of their classmates and to understand their work in historical and cultural context.

The course will have a number of sections, each following a particular theme. These themes or keywords are as follows:

  • City — The city is a human-constructed, inhabited environment that seems to remake itself on a daily basis. What is particular about the city as a place? Students study, experience, and engage with the material and spaces of the city and create projects that explore both its substance and its atmosphere.
  • Habitat — Habitat is the home for humans, plants, and animals and provides what is required to sustain life. What constitutes shelter and safety for humans in contrast to animals and plants? How do spaces and materials help to sustain and nurture? Questions such as these are explored in projects that consider the inextricable connection between the constructed environment and the natural world.
  • Community — Community provides us with our most direct means of self-identification. Our attitudes about how we interact, what we wear, and how we come together define both our personal space and our shared space. This course will explore the relationship between the shifting boundaries of community and the material nature of social space.
  • Culture — This section explores the effect culture has on the objects we use and spaces we inhabit. Students will investigate the relationship between beauty, utility, and the handmade.
  • Body — The body has an impact on our surroundings and the objects within it. How do ergonomics, structure, and self-image correspond to the shape, movement, and impact of the human form? Students use a range of methods to explore body coverings, functionality, and personal space.

Spring 2012 Information Session

April 9, 2012

1. Mark Bechtel discussing the proposed Modeling Facilities (

2. Adam Brent comparing the current Foundation 3D course to the Space/Materiality course (

3. Q&A with attendees (