Design Thesis Projects 2018 - 2019
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Katelynn Schutz
Advisor: Terri Fuglem

There is an emerging and increasingly critical need for an architecture that connects people in real space and provides an authentic social experience. Today’s cultural and social context creates unique challenges, especially in relation to the gradual change in the way we communicate and socialize with one another. The discourse of contemporary practice has led to a desperate search to redefine how architecture can support our interactions and create memorable and meaningful connections with one another in the city. Through virtual spaces, such as social media and other applications, relationships are formed and replaced more easily today. Technology has the ability to desensitize and detach people from authentic encounters with each other, which has damaged our potential for intimacy and genuine connection. The competitive nature of a capitalist society and soulless modernist designs have hindered city life and developed an individualistic culture as a consequence of this social system, shifting group dynamics and redefining our social encounters. This has led to a society that is divorced from other people leading to feelings of isolation, loneliness and lack of community and continues to evolve in this way, becoming more divided through its design. This thesis will explore how architecture in the city is serving us socially, by discovering and rethinking ways of being together.

The project will investigate architecture’s role in creating places that foster purposeful gatherings and engage people authentically, inclusively and tactilely. These questions will be addressed by studying the relationships between people; how they meet, interact, engage, socialize, and communicate in the city. This will help identify and create architectural interventions in the city that can activate the public realm and provide the framework for thriving social interactions. The topic will be explored by imagining into the world a realm of sociability. The intent is to create moments of connection by collaging elements of social rituals and props for social gatherings into daily interactions. This method of working will inspire a series of play places in the city that will act as an infrastructure for sociability, showing many different scenarios for gathering and re-imagining how architecture can create togetherness. Through the lens of human tradition and existing systems, banal moments of the everyday will be studied with fresh eyes to design moments that carry the potential to enliven daily interaction.


1. Hand rendered plan of Busking Pod at bus stop, showing social interaction, graphite.  In this Busking Pod, the left and right sides can be folded out as seen in the plan.  These sides are doors in their closed position, however the busker can unfold one or both sides into pieces of furniture for the audience to rest on.  Some pieces fold into benches, bar tops, or places to lay.
2. Hand rendered plan of Nesting Pod with arrows depicting the movement of the outer shell, graphite
3. Hand rendered plan of connection between floor, roof covering, and hinged wall.  The user must move the wall and roof covering manually.  Small moments like these can engage people with the architecture and allow them to have more control over their environment.
4. 1:20 Nesting Pod model, interior conditions with a view towards the front door, bus stop and bus
5. 1:20 Nesting Pod model, showing exterior conditions from bus to the Nesting Pod.
6. 1:200 Site model of Grant Park area with graphite plan drawings of social devices/pods placed at existing bus stops.

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