Paradigms Of The Student Manifestos Cultural Studies Essay

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This essay will criticise a paradigm student manifesto, the success and failure of the related design in approaching the selected theory and putting it into practice. The selected student manifesto is pointing out dissension and the consent between Critical Regionalism and the personal design. The emphasis of the manifesto is on enhancing Aboriginal identity by recreating their architecture style in new buildings regarding the implementation of the design process in the areas of the context, concept, site, plan, section, elevation, materials and sun control. The student wishes to revive the aboriginal architecture to reconnect people to place and alleviate the impact of displacement upon invasion to the indigenous people of Australia. The manifesto also discusses about the relations between the recreated structure, culture, site and the residence of the dwelling. The student believes that the European architecture designed buildings which are still being constructed is in conflict with Australian climate and it provides poor building performance hence she is looking for a replacement design considered by the site and locations climate.

In the next paragraphs the essay will examine the approach of the student's design to implementation of Critical Regionalism. The manifesto is attempting to recreate the Aboriginal architecture by following Glenn Murcutt's Aboriginal designs hence I will base my critics on Marika_Alderton house in Yirrkala as it is called a "blueprint for future Aboriginal housing" by commentary.

The Brief

In the selected manifesto the basic brief is filtered by autochthonous predilection. The student as a client and as a designer of the project attempts to apply traditional knowledge in order to experience a better sense of place in the new structure. What is evident in the drawings and the model of the structure is the elements which are borrowed from Murcutt's Aboriginal designs. The site plan and the location of the buildings on the site shows the architects attempt to provide a connection between the inhabitants, site and the structures. To some extend the appearance of the design is successful to implement the Aboriginal architecture but studying the design closely indicates that the brief has not been applied correctly. The borrowed elements from a vernacular architecture are used without functionality considerations.


The context of the design in the manifesto is referred to the place in which the design is anchored. The student is using the acknowledgment of local traditional history as a guide in which a design will be understood. Architecture in context is neither a cursory attention nor a radical innovation; it is in fact a visual relationship to the surrounding. Architecture informed by its context is influenced by different statements such as places, spaces and urbanism.

Concept C:\Hengameh\University\ARBE2203-History 2\Assignment2\JPG\Leanne's conceot.jpg

Student's interpretation about concept is a characteristic that forms the design conception which is always linked to the site. The basic draft drawings show this characteristic and they are based on a very strong concept which is the Aboriginals primitive dwellings, but moving to the progressed drawings shows just some small signs of the concept. The final drawings as mentioned before have some elements such as large wall shutters and wooden louvers which are borrowed from Murcutt's design. It seems that the concept has been changed during the completion of project design. C:\Hengameh\University\ARBE2203-History 2\Assignment2\JPG\Marika-Anderson house.jpg


Site, as a small part of a big geographical region, is an important fact in Critical Regionalism. Critical Regionalism attempts to use local influences to subvert the universalisation in architecture. The movement accepts the global cultures importance but emphasis on mediation of trans-cultural impulses through regional influences. Student has defined site as a base of design with various properties that affects the design process hence the architect should find some solutions in order to create a structure which connects and responds to the site. The paradigm structure for Group Housing is designed for a site in Newcastle which is a small regional instance of Australia's continent. Critical Regionalism does not focus on this type of trans-spatial; in another word, the movement discusses the regional influences on trans-cultural elements such as local craft, local materials, colours and textures among two different climate zones. If we accept the design as an instance of Critical Regionalism then one should think about aforementioned influences on the structure which will be discussed later.


Designing an architectural plan as a diagram indicating a relationship between different areas and spaces in the house depends on the requirements. Student believes that the design of the plan is directly linked to client's cultural behaviour. Aboriginal architecture, as mentioned above, can be divided into two categories. The first is an architectural design which will be used by Aborigines. The second is the design itself, the one which will be used by both Aborigines and non-Aborigines. The latter seems to be more complex design in way the architect should attempt to convey architectural meanings and be simultaneously legible to both groups of residents as well as, perhaps, to internationals. Group Housing is a project with uncertain clients with different type of units which will be occupied by a variety of residents such as students, mature and young families or a single person. We assume that the project is applied to the second. The final plans seem to be a kind of Aboriginal architecture as it is very similar to Murcutts plan design. Some elements of design such as sliding walls, outdoor fire space seem to be designed to be used by Aborigines only. Each house except the one for young family has two to three levels and the green areas have been raised to get sun light which has been resulted in a compact design. Even if the project had Aborigines clients the planning would not respond properly to their needs. Aborigines naturally used to live in houses consisted very simple shelters made from branches in an open landscape and I believe this dense design does not match their cultural traditions.


To analyse the relationship among different spaces in a house and the relationship among the different levels to another, it is required to study Sections. It can also help us to determine the client's behaviour in reaction to the planning. While the planning of the house is really compact we feel the density in sections as well. Although the houses have different types of clients but this seems to be almost typical. Except the house for young family the others consist of a level for laundry and storage, a level for living area, a level for sleeping and the last level is for washing area and a roof garden. Imitating Aboriginal designing by Murcutts in one level may result in proper relationship between the areas of the house for Aboriginal family living but as we have different types of client this planning seems not to be a good design solution. Kenneth Frampton, British architect criticize Ricoeur's sentence about "how to become modern and to turn to source" in his essay "Towards a Critical Regionalism". He asserts that:

"Now seems to be circumvented by the apocalyptic thrust of modernisation, while the ground in which the mytho-ethical nucleus of a society might take root has become eroded by the rapacity of development.

His idea seems to be true in this sample as it's been tried to be a modern design but there is no sign of those relationship of spaces in its source.


Studying the elevations of Marika Alderton's house presents its architect's proficiency in adopting modern architecture with geographical context. Aborigines used to build their house in a form of long sheets of bark with cross ventilation underneath pulled into curved shape across a bush pole frame. Morcutt's house is professionally backed to its source. The house has designed with see-through foundations to pretend having a root in an authentic and spiritual relationship with the land. Roof with big overhangs open to the landscape reminds the long sheet of barks of Aboriginals primitive dwellings. Elevation as a diagram which describes the external appearance of the building may not have necessarily an impact on internal functions but in Critical Regionalism it is considered as an element which should be linked to its source and its geographical position. Student declared that Elevation and is an element which is being formed in respond to the site. It has been also mentioned that the position of windows and openings will be guided by the relationship between interior and exterior. What we can see in the model of design are elements such as timber sliding walls, wide openings with shutters and roof with big overhangs which are successfully backed to its source. Contradiction could be observed between the student's manifesto and elevations as there is no sign of site affection on facades form. In some parts openings are displaced in order to provide privacy for neighbouring houses without considering sun control and sustainability.


As mentioned before, Critical Regionalism accepts the importance of global cultures but emphasis on mediation of trans-cultural impulses through regional influences. One of the influences is the local material. It has been described in student's manifesto that the availability of local material is directly linked to the design process and this is exactly one of the important factors in Critical Regionalism. She has mainly used clay bricks and timber for the material of her design. Both materials are readily available in Australia. They are also affordable and economical which have been used in different types of buildings for many years. As Glenn Murcutt stated in one of his interviews "in architecture there is not a lot that is sustainable as such in material terms but there is a strategy of planning". One of the strategies he mentioned was thermal performance. Clay brick has high thermal mass which has been used in cavity brick walls of the buildings. Timber in general has low thermal mass but it is mostly used for windows and openings. The properties of chosen materials seem to be a good respond to the site condition.

Sun Control

Student believes any building design could maximise the benefits of sun by analysing sun angle and applying proper remedies such as designing correct size of eaves, direct placement of orientation, using shutters. Final model shows these elements being applied in design. The important thing that should be defined first within a design process is to control the sun light; the sun angle which has been rotated about 20° by mistake. Since the best building orientation in Newcastle varies from north and 30° east of north, such an error does not affect the design in a serious manner. In some parts of the buildings, sustainable sun control strategies have been sacrificed in order to provide privacy for some windows in living areas are facing west; those that need to get the North sun light. Regarding the design of a roof, the size of overhangs do not seem to be sufficient in order to provide shadings for the big openings during summers which is the result of poor design approach.


People tend to attribute great design to some rare. For sure talent is an important factor in designing process. (Designs are unconsciously compared with others) When we have two designs and when we accept one of them as a good design we have unconsciously compared it to the other one. Lack of creativity and cleverness abounds in today's architectural designs. Good designs will simply gets copied by thousands around the world. A good design is a message from its architect and a drawing is a mean of communicating. If we are copying others design what are we communicating?

To answer this question in next paragraphs I'm going to discuss about benefits of manifesto in design process and policies of architectural education.

When we use the word "design" it may refer to either a final drawing product or a process of creating a drawing. In order to analyse the benefits of manifesto we need to think about the affection of our understanding of manifesto on a design process. An architect or generally a designer may produce a creative or special design that others wish to copy what the architect had done. But in most of the cases the designer needs to design for other people rather than just him/her self. In this case it is the responsibility of designer to learn how to find problems which may be difficult to be described and solved by others. For a design student it is easier to create a self reflective process which could satisfy him/her self rather than finding a method to develop ideas in order to compete with other design stakeholders. That is often why universities' studios are easily becoming fantasy areas which are removed from real needs of outside world, the world in which students should work after finishing their studies. Some critics believe that there is a common process which is shared between various design fields. But a debate exists between designers. Furniture designers claim they can easily distinguish two chairs designed by an architect and a furniture designer. On the other hand architects believe that furniture designed by an architect will be sat in its place and not obstruct it. Richard Seymour - a British product designer - asserts that:

"Although some architecture and some product design look very close it is really the extreme end of the bow of the architecture tree rubbing up against a leaf at the extremity of the product design tree. We think to tend that they are similar, but they are not. Fundamentally their roots are completely different."(Lawson 1994).

This should be one of the policies of Universities to teach students how to find their talents and how to improve it. Writing manifestos can be a useful aid to improve our understanding about architecture and designing. But the point is how students improve their manifestos and how they apply their theory into practice. Sometimes manifestos are based on incorrect ideas and theories hence the final understanding and achievements would be wrong. In the paradigm design I have criticised point by point there were some errors which was the result of poor understanding of Critical Regionalism. These errors weren't too big in basic draft drawings. As the project improved the errors became bigger.

The ideas and theories of student were very strong before starting to complete the drawings. But it seems that the manifesto had been sacrificed to solve some design problems. There is no relationship between the precedent, manifesto and final design. Students' poor understanding of the movement is the base of all errors happened during the completion of project. On the other hand she had tried to get inspired by some successful Aboriginal architecture but it seems that she had just copied the elements inconsiderately. In architecture when an element is copied to be used in another structure or in another place, it is not only the physical object which is copied. There are indeed the theory, philosophy, culture and history of one specific region which is being copied. And this all belongings should be considered and edited in its new place to give the elements a new meaning in architecture.

Manifesto can be a useful benchmark to create a new design if it has been considered and written thoughtfully and also if it has been used properly in the design process. Otherwise it could result in poor design with no theory behind it.

Architecture education policies may vary in different countries. This seems to be logical because the architecture of each countries or it is better to say each region of countries rises from its own culture and lifestyle. This should be adopted and applied as the policy of architectural education to firstly teach student how to learn about their own countries and the environment they are living in. And the second step is to provide a background for students to start searching and learning the international architecture.

Australian Institute of Architects has divided the architecture education into three areas within an international context of:

Recognition of academic qualifications

Recognition of professional standing

International cultural and economic exchange

The institute believes that architectural education is the fundamental base of the profession. The quality of education in universities is an essential key factor in estimating the abilities of graduates to gain professional principles and to contribute to improve the built environment of their countries. Architecture also plays an important role in finding solutions for sustainable designs in order to enhance the human life.


Creating a design is not a spontaneous decision which can be created in a short time. Any design needs to pass the process of designing. This process which is similar in all successful designs helps architects to create and develop theory based ideas. In architecture, as well as visual and fine arts, any created object is characterised by its belongings. Each building design is identified by the theory behind it which has a root in the history and culture of its origin locality. This issue becomes more essential in Critical Regionalism. It has been concentrated on trans-cultural impulses where borrowed elements should be mediated through regional influences in a way not to about losing its characteristic. Although in this movement elements are being copied to another geographical region but the creativity of the architect in addressing the identification of elements is an essential key to create a successful design. In order to achieve all above-mentioned by architects the role of architectural education in undeniable.