Title: Architecture students' spatial reasoning with 3-D shapes

Authors: Ömer Akin; Ömer Erem

Addresses: School of Architecture, Carnegie Mellon University, 201 College of Fine Arts, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA. ' Faculty of Architecture, Istanbul Technical University, Taskisla, 34437, Sisli, Istanbul, Turkey

Abstract: We observe that exercises involving abstract representation of 2-D and 3-D shapes are considered by architectural educators to be an important part of early design education. Although the results have been mixed, at best, this conviction persists. The Architectural Scholastic Aptitude Test (ASAT) administered by Educational Testing Services, in the 1960s is one such well known effort that since has been abandoned. Yet the practice of using abstract design problems focusing on the kind of spatial reasoning included in the ASAT is present in the core repertoire of many introductory design studio problems. As we reported in a paper published in 1999, in architecture programmes all over the USA, freshmen still compose with basic geometric shapes in order to learn general design principles. Upperclassmen explore the virtues of the 3 × 3 × 3 grid space. Design researchers toil over the process of recognising emergent patterns based on primary shapes. Our findings in this paper indicate that the decline in skill to manipulate abstract shapes by upperclassmen is due to lack of practice or rehearsal; and this skill does not appear to be central to the learning of students of architecture.

Keywords: spatial reasoning; aptitude tests; abstract representation; strategic reasoning; spatial manipulation; errors; cube arrangements; skill retardation; domain independent skills; memory rehearsal; architecture education; 3D shapes.

DOI: 10.1504/JDR.2011.043362

Journal of Design Research, 2011 Vol.9 No.4, pp.339 - 359

Available online: 26 Oct 2011 *

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