Specification writing as a postgraduate degree studio has in the past been a technical subject with little relation to informing the design process. The specification writing studio was usually scheduled at the end of the year to test the technical ability of final year students. This ability was tested on how students responded to a brief calling for the contract documentation of the design decisions they made in the conceptual development phase of the dissertation project, during the first part of the academic year. This paper outlines a newly developed syllabus for a postgraduate degree specification writing studio. This newly developed syllabus utilises specification writing of a building system as a tectonic conceptualisation. A conceptualisation that provides the opportunity to visually represents the theme of the architectural dissertation that a final year student submits in partial fulfilment of their degree. Furthermore, the introduction of the studio during the first part of the academic year allows for the building system to serve as a tectonic generator that inform the proposal and communicate the dissertation theme throughout the project. Thereby resulting in a more appropriate application and academic response to the theme related research gathered and presented in the research report. This paper aims to present some of the positive changes’ findings observed in the architectural projects proposed by students over the past two years of online teaching during the Covid-19 pandemic. Changes attributed to the newly developed syllabus of the specification writing studio. Selected students work will be presented as case studies for comparison and analysis. These research findings are new and may be helpful to other schools of Architecture that has a focus on developing the technical ability of students as a design process tool.
Francine van Tonder is a qualified architect, lecturer, and specification consultant. She holds an MTech Architecture Professional from the Tshwane University of Technology and a Master of Business Leadership from the University of South Africa. She is currently reading towards a Doctor of Architecture. Francine is a Sessional Lecturer at the University of the Witwatersrand department of architecture and planning, and she is a self-proclaimed lifelong student, researcher, and aspiring author. Francine is happiest living her purpose working with architecture students and consulting with architects.
Amira Osman is a Sudanese/ South African Professor of Architecture at the Tshwane University of Technology and SARChI: DST/NRF/SACN Research Chair in Spatial Transformation (Positive Change in the Built Environment). Amira believes that the architectural profession has a critical role to play in the achievement of buildings, neighbourhoods and cities that are more equitable, beautiful and functional, creating environments that are livable and lovable and offering people a better chance at improving their lives and livelihoods; this has been the driving force behind Amira’s work and she has spent most of her career advocating for these principles. Amira obtained a PhD in Architecture (University of Pretoria, 2004), she was a convener for the World Congress on Housing (2005), the Sustainable Human(e) Settlements: The urban challenge (2012), the 9th International Conference on Appropriate Technology (9th ICAT)(2020) and she served as UIA 2014 Durban General Reporter and Head of the Scientific Committee for the International Union of Architects (UIA) and the South African Institute of Architects (SAIA). She is a joint coordinator for the international CIB W104 Open Building Implementation network. Amira has extensive experience curating international events, coordinating complex programmes, exhibitions, conceptualising content and managing diverse teams.