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Fall 2015

M.Arch Fall 2015 Theses Abstracts


Rawya Al-Ameen

Soft Skin: Anticipating Change for the Future Architectural Envelope

The architectural proposition in this thesis aims to study the symbolic, physiological and emotional  implications of the spatial and experiential qualities of architectural space, through an exploration of  future possibilities for the envelope. The Architectural envelope defines a relationship between inside  and outside, marking a threshold between two different environments. It is therefore of a dual nature, a two-sided surface. The outside is the expressive face of architecture, a communicative surface; the inside is an expression of our own intimate worlds, which we decorate with desires and memories. Thus the envelope is determined by our timeless desires for both protection from and connection to the outside world. Yet the future of the architectural envelope is uncertain. Entering this space of uncertainty, the objective of this thesis is to question the possibility of imagining the envelope as a more complex skin, a soft skin, one that is a multi-layered system, following the model of the living skin.


Ryan Alexander

Curating Light: Daylight-Centric Design for Promoting Wellness

This thesis tests the effectiveness of daylight as a mechanism for creating a psychological and emotional impact, and promoting wellness within the confines of designed spaces. The creation of the project is based on a Maggie’s Cancer Centre model of patient-centric design. Maggie’s  Centers have been traditionally located in suburban settings, where they may be ideally oriented for daylight infiltration and outdoor connectivity.

The design project was purposefully situated within the constraint of an urban environment, in downtown Toronto, Ontario; where the goal is to achieve a spatial character where daylight and access to views of nature are limited. The project demonstrates a method of daylight-centric design that utilizes three primary techniques for daylighting: direct light, bounced light, and diffused light.

Through the methodical harvesting and manipulation of daylight, the project highlights its potential for positively enhancing patient experience and demonstrates the curation of varied experiential narratives in light.

Steven Biersteker

Craftsmanship: In the Pursuit of Things Well-Made

As a commonly misunderstood topic, craftsmanship is often seen as a primarily anachronistic act that fails to play a meaningful role in contemporary culture. However, as many critics have recognized, craftsmanship suggests a way of working that extends beyond manual labour as an attitude towards work. As an attitude, craftsmanship can be reevaluated as a process which results in the pursuit of things well-made.

To investigate this position, different viewpoints towards the process of craftsmanship are discussed from which a set of strategies are anticipated. These strategies have then been applied to an existing building in order verify which methods can be generalized and which remain specific. Through four unique design interventions an expressive, material based architecture is developed that appropriately responds to the buildings’ original craftsmanship.

Through this new perspective craftsmanship can be brought to life as both a valid and valuable way of working in contemporary architecture.

Ashley Brooke Biren

Choreographing Architecture

Our bodies are in constant dialogue with our built environment: we move to experience architecture, and in turn, are moved by its presence. Movement is intrinsically linked to the way we experience our buildings, yet the body in motion has not been acknowledged for understanding and conceiving architectural form. In this thesis, the phenomenon of kinesthetic empathy will be unleashed within the exploration of a choreographic architecture, where body, form and movement share an entangled relationship in the creation of an architectural composition. This approach investigates an architecture that embraces gestural and physiological behaviour for the development of a corporeal environment capable of stimulating and reawakening the mind and body. With the current technologies available for analyzing human movement, this investigation probes human kinesis as an external force for the formation of space, and thus, cultivates a new theory towards making architecture move — choreographing an architecture of kinesthetic empathy

Eranga De Zoysa

Conflict Spaces

Conflict and architecture’s relationship originated from the first rock throw that established space and distance between primordial humans and their aggressors, producing a spatial buffer, which enabled liberation from the evolutionary process (Ritter, 2012). This separation in space was the starting point of discerning the outside (sacred) and the inside (community). The outsider (“the other”), is an increasingly important aspect of societies involved in conflicts; prior, during and in the reconstruction phase. The symbols of memory within a conflict become the focal point, where architecture manifests the history of a place or space. This identity is first deconstructed during the siege, and reconstructed once the territory is pacified. This thesis is an observation of the changes that places and artifacts of memory undergo during a conflict, arguing that architecture is dynamically linked to people; building a foundation for memory, creating a collective identity; an object that is the focus for every conflict.


Bijan Ghazizadeh

The Gardiner SkyPark: Continuous Productive Urban Landscape as Infrastructure

The concept of Continuous Productive Urban Landscapes (CPUL) was introduced by Andrè Vilijoen and Katrin Bohn in 2004. This thesis project tests the application of the CPUL concept to Toronto, a densely developed North America winter city. It examines: 1. The challenges, limitations and opportunities of an existing high-rise city fabric as a platform for creating new coherent, continuous and active pedestrianized landscapes by reclaiming unused and under-utilized spaces. 2. The implications of merging reclaimed spaces with existing circulation arteries and infrastructure, to improve, invigorate and strengthen connections in the city. Through an iterative research and design exercise, which discovered many hidden potentials within the CPUL framework, this project is able to demonstrate how a linear park system is capable of seamlessly reconnecting a severed Toronto’s waterfront to the dense downtown core. Such projects can substantially benefit community life, and offer new and meaningful forms of urban connectivity that are sustainable and productive.

Sivan Glazberg


Warmth correlates with an inclusive feeling of comfort, both thermally and psychologically. Current practice is preoccupied with preventing heat loss and maintaining a constant temperature and relative level of humidity throughout spaces and does not consider occupancy. This mechanical approach considers warmth from an engineering perspective and does not take into account the human senses. An architectural approach to designing for warmth should on the other hand consider these senses. Ideally, it would create milieus that allow inhabitants to engage comprehensively with their space even as they experience awareness and appreciation of the thermal processes at work there. It is the goal of this thesis to develop viable architectural strategies to provide warmth.

Shin-Yi Lam

Fill in the Blank: An Architectural Intervention to Restore the Continuity From Infrastructural Residue in the Densely Built Hong Kong

Transport Infrastructure has played a significant part in reforming the built fabric of our cities. Highways were constructed to facilitate connectivity the urban fabric ever more. The linear cuts incised through the continuity of both the physical and social fabric of the city. Left behind are impermeable accidental spaces, voids that are inaccessible to the surrounding users.  Like no man’s land, the interstitial spaces is its own realm and separates itself from the rest of the system; neglecting its potential as an in-between state, bounded by the edges of communities, infrastructure and landscape. Simultaneously, recognizing architecture as an instrument of organization and its capacity to impose order within an increasingly complex and problematic environments. This thesis attempts to address the residual space created from highway infrastructure by investigating the problematic relationship between infrastructure and the urban fabric. Using architecture as the agent to unfold its potential as a junction, it proposes a design process that focuses on the integration of all fields that defines the urban fabric. The thesis incorporates the utilization of leftover spaces as the site for architectural intervention to restore the continuity of the broken city fabric.



Jeffrey Mitchell

Design for the Cycle

Design for the Cycle investigates, evaluates, and aligns contemporary ideas to propose a system for the design of fabric buildings that respond to social and cultural changes through the manipulation of form and materiality over time. In doing so, a building’s continued relevancy over time allows a project to reduce its need for embodied energy associated with demolition and repurposing due to premature obsolescence.

This can be done through communities driving co-ownership development and tractable design strategies, enriched by the study of existing buildings that have evaded demolition and successfully been repurposed. These elements are brought together to establish a set of guidelines for designing the life-cycle of fabric buildings within an urban context. Using the guidelines, the following thesis proposes a new process for designing and constructing fabric buildings woven into the city with a foundation of resiliency and values reflecting the importance of our earth’s finite resources.

LeeAnn Pallett

An Elemental Architectural: Water Stewardship in Hiawatha First Nation


Dozens of First Nations in Canada lack access to safe and secure water resources. This thesis proposes the decentralization of water treatment in First Nations, and explores how architecture might integrate and decentralize water collection, purification, and storage strategies in Hiawatha First Nation. It simultaneously explores the very deep and layered spiritual connection between women and water in Anishinaabe culture.

Feminist theory is used as a lens through which the research and design is approached. Synthesizing vernacular strategies with contemporary technologies led to the development of a regionally sensitive architecture that creates much needed space for purification, healing, and growth of the community and the individual.

The Pimaadashkodeyaang Cultural Centre in Hiawatha First Nation investigates Anishinaabe architecture and culture, feminist theory and space, and water and productive landscapes. Multiple design strategies emerged that inform how to design with water from both a pragmatic and mythopoetic perspective.

Kevin Pu

Architecture as Respiratory Systems

As a hermetic divide between exterior and interior atmospheres, architecture has been sealing itself off from fluctuating environments through its reliance on artificial breathing. The ability to induce and simulate a breathable environment allows architecture to be detached from nature as a separate entity. This condition needs to be re-conceptualized in order to address the over-reliance on mechanical systems through a study of biological respiratory systems. Therefore, the urban environment must evolve, challenging the divisive barrier of buildings to transform cities into an urban respiratory system, capable of purifying the atmosphere at both micro and macro levels. Urban sustainability therefore needs to challenge the static seal of buildings and learn to breathe from nature in order to become active urban respiratory systems, capable of purifying the atmosphere and contributing positively back into the urban fabric.



Dustin Sauder

Experiential Density: Infill Stratgegies within Toronto’s Centres - Bringing Human Scale, Character, and Walkability

A variety of approaches are being used to accommodate Toronto’s growing population. Most of these solutions rely on high-rise and mid-rise developments, emphasizing the quantity of density instead of the quality. However, this thesis focuses on blocks of slab towers, and explores how the perception of an environment and intensity of development can form an experiential density. Introducing new public and pedestrian orientated spaces to the neglected land between apartment towers to improve the experience of urban blocks also offers open space to increase the density in Toronto’s designated growth areas. To achieve this new environment, urban blocks containing clusters of slab towers will be fragmented into walkable distances; scaled outdoor spaces will activate the neglected park; infill will increase density and define outdoor spaces; and transitional areas will mediate the public and private realm, all to bring life into the block and improve experience of urban density.

Shawna Seligman

Establishing A Journey Architecture

This thesis documents and analyses my research and design that led to the synthesis of a new philosophy called Journey Architecture, the basis of my design work. Journey Architecture utilises movement and emotion to enhance the human experience through constant change. A series of design explorations build the understanding that a journey is never about the end point but rather the creation of a framework of objects, spaces and places to be experienced uniquely by each individual. Through an iterative process of multi-media techniques, methods for representing ideas, both visually and temporally, are illustrated. The final design project, the Dwelling of Walt Whitman, is a representation of a Journey Architecture. The dwelling celebrates life within the spaces by recognising that memory and emotion directly impact our experience of an environment. This thesis removes the limitations of architectural conventions and explores architectural ideas that enhance the continuously changing world around us.



Wing Shum

Resilient Housing for Growing Families: Living in the Urban Core of Toronto

Toronto is experiencing a trend in which apartment housing lacks the flexibility and adaptability to transform over one’s life cycle. A majority of suites in Toronto’s apartment housing stocks are unsuitable for potential family growth and change to an Echo Boomer’s needs over time due to its static layouts. In light of this phenomenon, how can Toronto’s downtown intensification accommodate the changes and demands in all phases of an Echo Boomer’s life cycle in the ever growing apartment typology? Through analyzing city’s development guidelines, precedent studies and a design proposal to culminate the findings, this thesis envisions a building typology that will enable an architectural response that is flexible to accommodate Echo Boomers over their life cycle.

Matthew Suriano

On an Architecture of Atmosphere


In architecture, atmosphere is a term that is used to describe an intangible characteristic that permeates our built environments. The feeling of atmosphere is a direct result of one’s perceptible circumstances, which are shaped by what architects design and how they go about designing it. But for a construct that is grounded in the reality of the buildings architects design, there is a clear lack of consideration and discourse on the subject of atmosphere in the design of architecture. As a result, atmosphere relating to architecture has been relegated to an atmosphere of default by architectural processes that fixate on the conceptualization of buildings as ideal objects. In order to consider atmosphere in architecture designers must acknowledge in their designs the importance of a building’s temporal nature, its effect on one’s corporeal presence, and the surrounding environment. This work is an evolving exploration into designing an architecture of atmosphere.

Siavash Vazirnezami

Anti-Museum: An Architectural Ecology

Anti-museum is a thesis about the relations between nature and architecture. The critique offered here is one that is focused on architecture’s over investment in its commodity and function; parameters that are often neutral to and independent from the spatiotemporal context in which architecture takes place. By contrast this thesis project explores different theories of “nature” as that which binds architecture in its context and hence provides an antithesis to commodification of space. The design project strives to demonstrate an architecture that documents its own produced, modern nature. In doing so, the project foregrounds and privileges the effects of the forces of nature (through weathering), as well as aura and specificity of place over the function and commodity oriented values of space. The overarching aim is to create a social space that enhances the experience of life in the city and also perhaps leads to a different vision in the process of space making at large.

Spring 2016

M.Arch Spring 2016 Theses Abstracts

Shannon Clayton

Re-Envisioning Modernity

While most historic cities show traces of modernist influences, the highest manifestation of modernist planning is found in North America’s postwar suburbs. As such, these environments have been highly criticized for their lack of identifiability and public space, characteristics that do not support contemporary human desires for variety and social interaction. In the immediate future, growing demands for housing and transit will create opportunities for urban transformation, and provide a platform for a contemporary critique of modernism and its evolution. This thesis postulates that postwar suburbs can be adapted to better meet the desires of 21st century residents, while maintaining privacy and access to nature. Through an analysis of potential nodes within existing suburban settlement patterns, and a critical engagement with the ongoing critique of modernism, an architecture which defines public space and creates recognizable images can be developed within the existing fabric of suburbia.


Lisa Marshall

Movable Possessions: Alternative Housing Through Adaptable Design

Poor communities around the world have developed architecture without architects. Subsidized low-income housing has been built as if to provide only a short-term solution. Poverty and lack of affordable housing is not a short-term problem but an ongoing issue that demands creative adaptable solutions for a changing world. Adaptable architecture is essential for the redesign of affordable housing that is environmentally, economically, and socially sustainable. In order to mend the broken bond between lower-incomes and the architectural quality of space, this design research strives to both defend and produce affordable architectural alternatives to housing through the use of adaptable design principles and strategies found within Barbados’ Vernacular Architecture, the Chattel House.

Fall 2016