Mobile Architectures

Course Leader

Fadi Shayya

Thinking about mobility and designing its vehicles demonstrates not only the design acumen of an architect, which could extend to various domains of design thinking, it is a lens into an architect’s broader scope for understanding and realizing spaces of inhabitation beyond the common architectural figure of the building. Vehicles of the land, sea, and air become mobile architectures that house users for the duration of transit between buildings and geographies. Similar to inhabiting buildings, users experience the environment/landscape as an outside through/with/from the inside of a vehicle’s enclosed space, albeit one moving across terrain.

Still, vehicles of mobility continue to remain external objects with respect to buildings and landscapes that concern architectural/urban thinking. Although architectural/urban research has explored the machinic relationship between cars, movement, and environment, they have not been explored as sites of inhabitation and/or as extensions to sites of inhabitation like buildings and urban spaces. But one can argue that vehicles – although not architectural objects – assemble associations of an architectural/urban character between an inside and outside conception of space.

It is this inside-outside relation that this Research Methods workshop explored through an architectural/urban lens and using architectural analytical tools. Students followed non-humans, traced technical developments, and re-assembled the making of space (i.e., spatialisation) and habitat (i.e., inhabitation). They asked questions about mobility architectures, technogeographic milieu, and architectural associations.

Students extended the fields of architectural humanities and urban studies to explore the architectural, urban, and/or infrastructural modes of connection across environments of movement, beyond the common figures of the building and the city. While those figures remain useful, there is ample potential in studying the envelopes and atmospheric enclosures of new figures in an increasingly mobile world. With this novel approach and methodology, we can expand our architectural know-how beyond buildings, but we can also stay with buildings and see them in a new light.


Abdul Muaz Aiman Bin Masri

Ahmed Ali

Zeyu Che

Daryl Lee Quayle

Johan Bin Nor Azman

Leonardo Forcignano

Fangfei Li

Mohamad Danial Haziq Bin Mohd Hamdan

Omkar Sanjay Salvi

Rucha Anand Valimbe

Sehaam Usmani

Yi-Cheng Tai

Jianxuan Wang

Writushree Saha

Yutong Liu

Zilang Zhao


Aims & Learning Outcomes

This workshop has two aims:
1. To familiarize students with an advanced notion of methodology and methods, where methodology reflects philosophical/theoretical approaches to understanding the world and methods actualize such understanding through empirical engagement.
2. To introduce students to techniques from Science and Technology Studies (STS) that will equip them with an expanded repertoire of visual and discursive analytical tools to analyze, describe, and re-present spatialization and inhabitation.

Upon learning about and engaging with the workshop material, students will be able to:
1. Understand the notion of architectural/urban associations as dynamic and changing relations that figure the inside-outside relations of the vehicles’ mobile architectures.
2. Identify architectural associations in vehicles and their environment/landscape/milieu using drawings, patents, manuals, and technical specs.
3. Graft architectural/design tools of program/script, typology/figure, and others onto the figures/forms of vehicles such as the cars, bus, train, and airplane.
4. Envision the architect’s complex and interdisciplinary role within design futures.

Guest Lecture

Transitional Objects: Approaches to Drawing in the Mobile World

James Craig, Lecturer in Architecture – Newcastle University

This talk explores what it means to look carefully at our environment and document it through drawing. We are mobile beings, and much of the world’s objects have the capacity to move around us. Yet, as architects, the most projective techniques we deploy envision the world as static, with little registration of the temporal or atmospheric conditions that set us and our environments in motion.

Through a range of examples from the drawing practices of fine art and architecture and studies from my research, this talk provokes questions on the codified nature of architectural representation. It seeks to find appropriate modes of drawing that best register our complex ways of perceiving the world. Further examples draw on Master of Architecture studios that I have led and that engaged with the issue of seeing in post-traumatic contexts.

Sixteen students invigorated the workshop, collectively working in groups of four to produce 4 Group Research Reports and 4 Cosmograms & Cosmic Strips. The Boeing 747 group report is included here as a sample.