Integration of Philosophy & Drawing within the course “Spatial Imagination”: A method for integrating theory & practice of spatial analysis in architectural education

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractAcademic


This paper will present the experiences, ideas and evaluation of a course called “Spatial Imagination”, an elective for Bachelor Students of the Faculty of the Built Environment. The data comes from the three years in which the course was set up and has developed as a result of three different forms of course evaluation. The course brought together two rather unlikely bedpartners, namely philosophy and drawing. They have become a promising couple, braiding the theoretical with the practical, thinking with doing. What is special about the course is its methodological approach and its relevance to the profession of architectural design, as well as the current attempts to make it into a course of blended learning. We have made the philosophy of space into a tangible and concrete subject, explaining various conceptions of space and working out how these conceptions affect our way of responding to space in architectural design. At the same time, the lessons in drawing explore these theoretical positions by combining the real experience of space with drawing, and in the meanwhile developing the skills of critical spatial representation. In this way the theory is giving a foundation in practice.The course is made up of three parts. One part consists of a course of 8 lectures in which a theoretical framework is given, concerning various conceptions of space. Parallel to this, there are 7 drawing workshops which respond to the lectures and vice versa. To give a concrete example: when the philosophy lectures discuss Kant’s “Das Ding an sich”, and the idea that space and time are categories of mind, requiring ‘models of space and time’ to organize our experience of the world, the drawing workshops explore various models of observing and representing space, such as the systems of perspective, which are then discussed and explored in the lectures. There is an in between, the seminar part, in which both theoretical and practical research is performed by students themselves on the spatial setting of specific works of art and architecture. Those specific works of art & architecture change every year. The seminar assignment requires small groups of students who analyse and critique the work of art & architecture and finally they transform it into another dimension.The three components of the course are together concerned with raising awareness of how our experience of space is affected by our conception of it, and using that awareness to improve the critical acumen with which the student approaches the design task.For three years we have been able to critically evaluate the subject and have developed it into a course which has been consistently well evaluated. Nevertheless we currently are upgrading the quality further by making referential materials for students, moulded into the form of screencast for different philosophical concepts and pen cast for the drawing parts. To make the connection between the philosophical thoughts and viewpoints, and the representational and drawing part more touchable, we are now creating more explicit links between these two parts. The seminar part as the in-between philosophy and drawing is also developed further.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jan 2018
Event2nd National Interdisciplinary Education Conference (NIE 2018) - TU Eindhoven, Eindhoven, Netherlands
Duration: 30 Jan 201830 Dec 2018
Conference number: 2!/267567/nie-conference-2018/


Conference2nd National Interdisciplinary Education Conference (NIE 2018)
Abbreviated titleNIE 2018
Internet address

Bibliographical note

Session 1, Papersession 2


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