Architecture for All: Complexity Made Simple

Architecture for All: Complexity Made Simple

Academic Year:
2017 - 2018 (June 1, 2017 through May 31, 2018)
Funding Requested:
Project Dates:
Chair Uniqname:
Overview of the Project:
The purpose of this grant is to fund the printing of multiple sets of twelve original books for children, on the subject of architecture. The books are being written and designed by architecture and urban planning students in the course “Fresh Graphics: Complexity Made Simple,” with the input of local preschool and elementary children. The grant will allow the finished books to be professionally printed and bound, and donated to the libraries of the University of Michigan Children's Center and Thurston Elementary School. The efforts of this course embrace a design logic set forth in the early twentieth century by Otto and Marie Neurath, pioneers of visual education. The course is organized as a simultaneous research seminar and design workshop. Throughout the semester, students have investigated not only masterful graphic communication (including the Neuraths’ Visual History of Mankind and the Isotype), but also relevant architectural ideas, concepts, designs, history, and architects. The culminating effort of the course is the production of a set of children’s books about architecture, written and designed by the students.
Number of Graduate Students Affected Annually:
21 graduate students
Number of Undergraduate Students Affected Annually:
0 undergraduate students
Additional Supporters:
<p>Geoffrey Thun,</p>
Budget Administrator:
Linda Mills,
Final Report Fields
Project Objectives:

The objectives of this project were to allow graduate students in architecture and urban planning to use their skills in design and communication to create a set of twelve books for children on the topics of architecture, design, and urban planning. These students worked with two groups of local children - a preschool class and a second-grade class - and the grant enabled us to have copies of the final books professionally printed so we could donate full sets to both classrooms. The children who collaborated on the project were able to see the exciting results of their involvement, and the books will also be part of the classroom for future groups of students.

Project Achievements:

This project has had an impact on, and has united, many groups. The students in the course were involved in researching and learning the history of graphic design and how it might influence their capacity to communicate complex ideas. In using those skills to work with children, they received invaluable feedback on their work, and could engage directly with a set of "clients" who were also enthusiastic collaborators. For their part, the children were allowed access to information they are not typically taught in school, fueling their excitement for the topics of architecture and planning. By also receiving these books to keep in their classroom, they may continue to learn about design, as will future students in these classrooms.

Yes, aspects of this course will continue into further courses at Taubman College. In addition, some of the books produced in this course will be further developed by their individual authors, for possible publication and wider dissemination.
Many colleagues (and some of their children) were invited to join our course for reviews and feedback to the students. Now that the books have been self published, they will be made available to colleagues for purchase.