Category: Final Project Summary


Immersive 1

When Alex Short (80short) and I went into this quarter as a team, we knew we had similar mindsets and issues we wanted to address. We both agreed that while collaboration is an important aspect of learning, individual exploration and freedom is equally necessary; so when we received eyarosh’s winter quarter project, Stumble Upon Learning, we thought that his concept of sectional hierarchy between group and individual spaces was a good starting point for an organizational concept. Similarly, when we looked at his large, subtly modulating roof, we saw that as a possible formal driver.

Initial ProcessIn a way we took three initial concepts from eyarosh’s project—one formal, one organizational, and one experiential—and meshed those concepts with our own to create a foundation for our design.

Through both physical modeling and discussion with word and drawings, we developed two separate languages we would use to organize the programmatic space of the school and also cater to both individual and group learning styles. This idea was partly manifest as a spatial representation of one of John Dewey’s ideas on education. The following graphic became our concept statement, and explains in detail how both of these languages were devised, and how they tie back to John Dewey’s idea.

Creating an OSL Story FIRST DRAFT

As both the grounded and lifted spaces started to develop co-dependently, the idea of splicing became evident on the second floor where the floating commons space began to twist and weave through the separated clusters of mass. On the first and third levels, however, the languages were kept more in-tact, and the spaces were molded not so much in response to each other as they were to their respective “grounding” elements. For the first story this grounding element was the landscape, and for the third floor it was the unifying roof from which it hung. The perspectives below show the unique character of each level that was created through our splicing concept.

As the grounded spaces ultimately made up most of the prescribed program, we viewed each interest group as its own mass that was split from the others and united by the commons. How the interest groups were organized followed ideas of service/utility and equality. Spaces like the shop that needed some sort of access ports for larger supplies were moved to the outer perimeter of the design, while spaces more involved with building and assembly were focused inwards on the outdoor space that split the two bars of our building.

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Our day in the life diagram focused on giving the viewer a sense of the sectional organization and how different sized groups would function in these spaces.

Day in the Life

The final piece of our project, which supports the third and second floors, is the roof and the roof structure. As part of the lifted language we developed, both the roof and its structure were meant to appear light and open. We used a space truss design, and began to modulate the span to depth ratios of each unit in the truss in order to achieve a subtle modulation in the top plane. We used this modulation to also enclose space on the third floor, and it began to inform the shape of what was below; so where the third level pathway was, the depth of the members shrunk and allowed for headroom; where only the second floor or ground was below, the members depth was exaggerated and moved down past the third story itself.

Section Persp

As part of our wall section development for the quarter, Alex and I decided to mesh two of our ideas into a cohesive wall system we dubbed the hacka[wall]. The hacka[wall]s in our design are graphically depicted as orange planes in both the section perspective and day-in-the-life diagram above, and one is linked to each homeroom as a way for that group of 30 students to create their own group identity. The basic idea behind the hacka[wall] is that the students can easily edit either the graphic quality or actual makeup of the wall by using 2×6 studs as building blocks; the key for me, however, was that there would be no tools involved in removing this timber cladding, but that a simple lever mechanism could be operated to independently remove each piece of the wall. Alex then brought in the idea of making the wall horizontally operable like a barn door, so that each homeroom would have the option of opening up and focusing outwards into the school, or closing and focusing inwards on their own ideas.


And last but not least, our final model was meant to highlight the concept of splicing and the two separate languages on a whole building scale, something that is hard to do within a single render or perspective.

Adaptive Overlap

Section Perspective Final

When we first inherited “Overlap,” the building design was focused around the idea of “the communal and the individual, the focused and the exploratory”. We tried to keep the heart of this idea, while developing it further with our own influences throughout the quarter, thus resulting in “Adaptive Overlap.” Similar to our first post as a team, we pinpointed three main words that drove our architectural strategies:

Exploration: Encouraging curiosity and movement through different spaces

Connectivity: Central commons with both courtyards branching out

Variation: Different sizes and types of areas to allow for different group sizes and learning types

Once we finalized the overall form of the building (after making changes in the angles, size, and programming) we were able to really delve deep into the interior spaces and courtyards at a human level, with those 3 key words in our minds throughout design development.


Form Diagram

Diagramming from an early stage was something that was kind of new to both Annabelle and I, but we both found it extremely helpful having visual methods of showing our design thinking rather than just relying on our spoken presentation. Through iterations of all of the diagrams we were able to consider how best to tell our story.

(In order of appearance: Macro-programming, Circulation, HVAC, Structure, and Shading System)

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-Entry Experience-

One of the motivations that guided our “aesthetic” design of the exterior of the building was using the school to make a statement. We’ve had a lot of discussions about using architecture to motivate students to learn and want to go to school, because the environment that surrounds you can make a huge impact on your high school experience. While the majority of our efforts were focused inwardly by developing the Hubs, we we wanted to make sure the outdoor experience was not neglected. An thus, the beginning of the student’s journey through school begins right at the front steps:


Site BG


The lower courtyard (left) was designed to allow for morning light to warm up the space, for it’s proximity to the parking lot and school entrance would encourage its primary use in the morning hours. We saw the upper courtyard more as the area that would be used during lunch and after school hours, and would be a larger gathering space lit with afternoon sun.

Lower CourtyardUpper Courtyard


From the entry courtyard, the students would be encouraged to take two paths: straight into the atriums or spending time in the commons. Although the overall concept of the commons at the center of the two buildings was a strong concept and an important part of our project, if given more time it would definitely be one of our focuses to develop deeper. But for now, our main vision for the space was a bustling cafe feel that would be a comfortable place to study, talk with friends, or just relax during breaks.


-The Hub-

And then finally, all of the students would finally end up in one of the three hubs. The idea of the Hub as this gathering place of knowledge with varying degrees of flexibility was a huge influence in our design process through the quarter. The plan for the hubs were by far the most developed focus of our project because it really got to the heart of everything our studio has been arguing talking about. By having 4 different sized learning spaces with varying levels of flexibility, students and their mentors/ teachers would have the ability to move throughout the floor and rearrange the spaces to fit their needs and learning goals.

Hub Diagram



-Floor Plans-

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Section2 Section1

-Material Inspiration-

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This quarter was filled with challenges and new experiences. This was more work produced than either Annabelle or myself had ever produced previously, and working in a team had its challenges but taking this project into design development could only be accomplished with help. When Mark first stated he expected everyone to print 8 feet by 8 feet (or whatever it was) the entire class seemed shocked, because how could we produce THAT much? Even if we didn’t say anything, I know I at least briefly considered his sanity. But through blood, sweat and tears (literally) we did it. Was it hard work? Hell yes. But was it not only possible, but worth it? No doubt about it. Perhaps we could have collaborated more instead of dividing and conquering, but by working within our own known strengths and weaknesses we were able to accomplish more than what we thought possible. Looking back at it now, both Annabelle and Courtney are proud of their strong marriage and watching their adopted child grow up. It is a little hard to let go after 20 weeks of working on Open Source Learning, but now it is time to let  “Adaptive Overlap” be free and leave the nest, like any good child should.

– Annabelle & Courtney

mg 2-1 section 2-5


Passage Into the Loop

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The concept of our Open Source Learning Academy design project this quarter is to design a learning environment for high school students with an emphasis on integrated learning across multiple disciplines. We intend to use a large black box theater space located at the front corner entry of our project as a multipurpose space that is accessible to all four of the OSL’s primary focus groups: Media Design, Product Design, Culinary Design, and Organizational Design.

Creating Connections

After receiving the original project from a classmate, we adjusted the form’s overall proportions and extensively redesigned the project’s interior program. We also chose to keep the original project’s idea of a circulation loop as a way for occupants to experience the building, a way of organizing the program spaces throughout the project, and as a way to shape the overall form of our design.

During the early phases of the design process we decided to place the black box theater near the building’s entrance to signify it’s role in bringing together not only the various groups of students belonging to the four interest areas, but also the OSL Academy as a whole and the surrounding community. The immediate adjacency of the black box to a large central atrium allows for the activities taking place in the black box itself to spill out into a large public space that reaches into other interest areas, such as culinary and product design. Our large, atrium visually and acoustically connects all three floors of the OSL Academy while bringing in a large amount of natural light.

Wall Section

After deciding to place the black box theater near the entrance of our project we created a large wall section to further develop the spatial qualities of the black box and it’s connections to the spaces above and directly adjacent to it. This large scale drawing also allowed us the opportunity to develop the primary and secondary structural connections, facade connections, and materials for this portion of the project.

Classroom Clusters

Branching off this large atrium is a secondary atrium that serves as a way to connect students in their classrooms, or clusters, to a large gymnasium which supports student wellness. The classrooms of the OSL are arranged into two primary clusters that are each made up of four flexible classroom spaces. These four classrooms have the option of being either enclosed or open to a central staircase connecting the two floors of the clusters. The flexibility of these classroom spaces can be mixed to provide students with a variety of learning interactions, ranging from formal to informal, and engaging both visual and auditory connections.

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Structural Challenges

One area of the project we struggled with this quarter was the programming of the third floor of our design because it was formally very different from the rest of our design. The large cantilever the third floor creates over the entrance of the building also called for a different structural system than the rest of the building and we found that whenever we laid out a column grid that aligned with the program needs of the first two floors we would have columns in strange locations on the third floor.

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Design Process

This quarter our design process consisted of a very strong connection between hand sketches on trace paper and digital Rhino models. We frequently found ourselves scanning our drawings with a handheld wand scanner and putting them directly into Rhino as a template to trace. Also, since we created many diagrams to help explain our project, we did a significant amount of work in Illustrator and Photoshop. Our numerous Rhino models and diagrams also helped us design and laser-cut several mass-glass models at a small scale to help understand the overall massing of our project and a CNC cut site showed the ways in which we developed the landscape surrounding our building to accommodate our design.

Project Wrap-Up

Looking back on the project we have developed together this quarter, we are both proud of the progress we have made and our growth as designers. This project has allowed us to develop our design to a greater level of detail than we have previously been able to and we were able to show the depth of thought we put into the organization of our design. Overall we believe this to be a very successful project.

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Contributors: kjbishop13 and bensonkothai

Interactive Learning

entry perspective

When learning is open source, a network engages and empowers students, teachers, outside professions, and communities. The web of influence in pursuit of learning is not limited to those within the four plain walls of a typical high school classroom. The established “lecturer teacher at the front and 30+ silent listeners in individual desks” model is demolished. In an Open Source Learning (OSL) environment, hubs become focal points for discovery, participation, and belonging driven by specific interests. Students and teachers must have flexibility, variety, and choice, especially with room size, acoustics, and furniture.

site arial plansite plan

Issue- high school students are not learning to learn

Proposal-   a project-based open source learning network where students find identity in specific disciplines, creating a place where learning is both self-motivated and exploratory

main street perspective

The system is organized into five 90 person cohorts (community) each linked to a specific disciple (interest). We consciously decided community and specific interest are a collective experience, taking on the form of a hub.


diagramsThese 90 student hubs became intrinsically linked to how one shares information. This organizing scheme developed spatially into a series of bi-modal boundaries that signify times of formal/inward focus, and alternatively informal/outward exploration. This high school explores boundaries as organizers of space, the phasing between the specialized and unspecialized. The nature of the wall is explored as boundary, invitation, seclusion, fixed, flexible, expository, focal. The overarching concept developed as the creation of sharing between these five hubs. Circulation served as an organizing principle bringing cohesion to the entire system and encouraging interaction between the five hubs. These spaces are individual specific, but also part of a greater whole.

The darker gray parts in the diagrams represent these pockets of sharing/expository zones which are the middle ground between intensive study and circulatory exploration.

The main structural elements help to connect the activities below and play a huge part in the spatial experience of the entry. The light truss that spans across the angled middle bar connects that spaces as large sliding walls provide flexibility. The massive cantilever shapes the entry experience as it draws people under and within.


The circulation is established as a figure eight loop with vertical shortcuts. One of these shortcuts is the large social stair experienced upon entry. The spatial experience of the intersection of the loop upon itself is crucial. At this very point, the entry to the building, the main social stair, the bridge, the lower circulation channel, and two programatic spaces of organizational and culinary design meet as the dynamic experience is amplified by the changing ceiling heights and structure. This section cuts through this middle angled bar.

big sectioncoffee perspective

On an average day, if you ripped the roof off and the people didn’t all run away, this diagram depicts the nature of the activity. Evident are focused classrooms to rooms of tools supporting a discipline to common spaces where the “hallway” becomes a breakout space for activity. The celebration of student work meant to inspire each other is typified in the Interaction Walls indicated in orange.

day in the life

interaction sharing walls

A particular geometry set out helped to define form and inform structure. The floor plans were organized based on programatic adjacencies and spatial experience while maintaining the consistency of the established gradient.

geo set outbridge perspective

floor plans


In the facade, that gradient of space and intensity is expressed through a change in density from left to right.


DSC_5853DSC_5851 DSC_5850

wall detail

To the Heart of Education: A Look Back at [Re]Structured Learning at the OSL

by R+VH architects (in training).

circulation diagram 1

What is the role of an architect? An architect is one who plans, designs, and oversees the construction of buildings, but what is it that an architect really does? We must not only know about design and construction, but about psychology and sociology as well. So, that brings me to a more specific question. How does an architect design a space that can influence learning and education? The learning environment is not easy to design.

We have been asking these questions for the past 20 weeks in attempts to find the answers. We know that education in the US needs to be rethought, not only the concept of it, but the architecture of it as well. We have the opportunity to influence people through the design of spaces, and really provide a place where minds can grow. We need to design spaces that are structured, yet flexible to adapt to different learning types and situations. We used a connective axis through the center of the campus, as well as strong adjacencies to create a fostering environment.

Design Intent

Our design fosters curiosity and collaboration through various layers of working clusters, ranging from casual to private while weaving through the focus areas of the Open Source Learning Academy. Two main atria (the hearts) connect the spaces vertically, creating dynamic working areas that spark curiosity between the focus areas. Various exterior spaces support academia while connecting the students to nature and wellness.

OSL: Program

Our intention was to house the four different focus groups, while providing interstitial spaces for a variety of learning environments, as well as provide a gradient of privacy.

day in lifeWe have the OSL FoundationProduct DesignMedia DesignOrganizational Design, and Culinary Design, as well as a Media Technology Lab.

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The core of our design, in which the focus area surround, is the four-story Commons Atrium. It connects the spaces, and brings a bright, collaborative environment. It also acts as an axis, unifying the two buildings of the campus, extending an atrium space through the second building.

render sunset atrium

Organizational Design overlooking Central Atrium.

render lab space

Lounge Space adjacent to Labs.

section perspective

Sectional Perpective showing spatial connectivity across levels and spaces.


Very early on, the structure of our project became a driving factor. In the common areas, tall, branchlike structures bring a monumental feeling of support to large open areas.

AlignedAxonAligned Axonometric: 4 Stories of Primary Structure Grids, Glazing System, Exposed Structural Elements, and Overview with Geometry Set-Out. As you can see here below, the exposed structure (in orange) houses the commons/study areas of the campus (in blue), giving them open bigness. In this process, the circulation became a driving force in designing the spaces and adjacencies.

The Models

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See It, Learn It, Do It, Show It: An investigation into Open Source Learning

by Jeffrey Skilling and Erik Yarosh


Today’s high school curriculum does not create the learning environment necessary to foster the passion and depth of knowledge needed to be successful in the working world. The project based curriculum of the OSL Academy remodels the standard high school education by offering educational opportunities through 5 interest zones: Product, Media, Culinary, Organizational, and Wellness.

GeoSetOut_ProgramSee it Culinary [Converted]Learn It Culinary [Converted]Do-It-Lab-Show it Bridge [Converted]

But, what does it mean to Open Source It??? First, it begins when you “See It” or experience an OSL space or product. Based on your personal interests you may chose to “Learn It”. After learning, it is time to “Do It”. This is when you put the skills and knowledge you learned in the classroom setting and synthesize this information into a physical learning assignment, bridging the conceptual nature of schooling with the practicality of apprenticeship. Lastly, it is time to “Show It.” Regardless of their location on campus, students are constantly being exposed (Seeing It) to the work of other students and faculty creating a never-ending cycle of knowledge flowing from student to student.

Learn it-Do It2See_LearnDo_Show

Day-Plans-Basic RGB

We chose reinforced concrete as our primary structural system for it’s aesthetic qualities. Our intentions are to show a structural contrast between a massive, beton-brut concrete structure and an elegant, light weight (ETFE) roof.

Structure Axon

To take advantage of the Central California Climate we are using a decoupled system of stack ventilation and radiant slabs. The enclosure of the ETFE membrane is raised to allow natural breezes to circulate into the building, absorb heat and expel it through the roof through operable vents at the top of the tubes.


For our exterior cladding we used multilayer ETFE. ETFE is relatively new and hold great benefits such as low cost, low maintenance, and spans ranging from fifteen to two hundred feet. The ETFE membrane is pneumatic to provide insulation and has the option to be fritted/printed on to provide a pleasant ambient glow within our school. It can also be inflated with gases that can respond to environmental factors. ETFE is not only water proof, but also breathable to help maintain indoor air quality.


Open Source Learning Academy: A Review

by Suzie + Caroline

Our studio began this project exploring and developing the concept of Open Source Learning (OSL) in January. By the end winter quarter, we each had our interpretation of OSL. Since inheriting someone else’s project, we have done our best to explore what OSL looks like spatially. Our site is located along highway 101 across from Pismo Beach.

coast aerial view with building

The problem of learning today is that it mass produces students for a future that doesn’t exist. Open Source Learning is a way for students to learn by engaging in physical and mental connections and through networking. By providing a variety of spaces, flexibility of where to work, they have the choice to engage that space to make these connections.

– 4 interest groups (organizational design, media design, product design, and culinary design)
– 3 clusters (5 classrooms, a teacher hub and a lab)
– Open Source Learning (OSL) Foundation and administration

Concept: Our interpretation of Open Source Learning consists of these guiding words:

updated word cloud THIS ONE


Movement is an integral word in the project because it is how students experience the spaces. Upon entering the OSL Academy, students interface with a glass facade and terracotta solar screen. Their first view is the staircase that looks into the product design, and to their left, get a glimpse of the red ribbon stairs.

entry this one!03

Entry (see A in Day in the life)

view into product design

Stairs across fro entry (See B in Day in the life)

interior render 02

Ribbon Stair Case that is injected into an open space. (See C in Day in the life)

Day in the life of a student in Open Source Learning Academy (click on the picture for a close up)

day in life

Interstitial + Connecting

The spaces in between the programming become interstitial spaces that guide and connect students to their interest areas. The entry area is a public entrance for students, teachers and the community alike. It serves as a lobby space so that students can direct themselves where they need to go. To the right of the entrance is the black box theater which is a public more area. This place has a gallery (see picture on lower right corner of day in the life) which has the potential to connect the community to OSL. To the left of the entrance are the rest of programming which houses the rest of the OSL identity.

commons spacecirculation

commons/flex space                                              circulation (cores are for circulation + egress)

cluster  osl + admin

clusters                                                             osl foundation + administrationprogramming relaxation space

organizational design (yellow)

product design (blue)

culinary design (green)

media design + black box theater (purple)

relaxation + wellness (orange)

Mass Customization

These diagrams are an exploration of clusters. Because of the great weather in San Luis Obispo, we knew we needed to incorporate rooms that open to the outdoor. (see picture from day in life bottom left corner). These open classrooms face west, and have terracotta solar screens to block the sun’s rays. These open classes don’t have solid walls; rather they have moveable glass walls for learning to be shared in an open environment. For students who need enclosed environments while learning, there are “closed classrooms” (see upper left picture from day in the life). Students can still see what is going in the giant atrium space while focusing on what they are learning.

cluster01 cluster02

Open classrooms open to the outdoor, on the first floor it connects to the outdoors where there is a communal garden.

floor plans sheet03

These open classrooms face west, and have terracotta solar screens to block the sun’s rays. The outdoor deck allows students to have an indoor/outdoor learning environment while learning.


Connecting Physical + Mental

The relaxation space rests between the cluster and wellness center, meant to be an interstitial space where students can relax from their mental and physical exercises. It includes a “play” aspect on the bottom floor, which opens to a staircase and zen space on the second floor, and is then open on the third floor for students to have an indoor outdoor relationship with the wonderful weather in San Luis Obispo.

relxation diagram

Getting to the Core of Open Source Learning

Diagram1Throughout the last 20 weeks, we as a studio explored the question “How do we apply open source ideals to architecture?” and more specifically, “How do these spacial manifestations provide students with a more genuine learning environment?”


Three main Interest Groups form the primary programatic elements. These three areas, Culinary Design, Product Design, and Media Design, will serve as interest cores, allowing students to gravitate towards their interests freely. This feature will allow students to pursue subjects they are genuinely desire to learn about, leading to more captivating, in-depth educational experience. This will also allow students to connect with the peers that share similar interests. If these connections are harnessed and used to promote learning, the system is all the more immersive.


These Primary Cores are developed to attract students, and students are encouraged to move between cores freely, and therefore the space between cores provides students with diverse and adaptable gathering areas. The areas that occupy the 3 “bridges” are called clusters and identify with the cores that it connects. This mixing of interests connects students with each other, the space that they occupy, as well as the subject they are interested in



This concept acts as the foundation for the Open Source Learning Academy. The Triangular building form supports the unrestricted movement necessary to facilitate natural connections. The constantly visible center courtyard acts as a mental landmark to students traveling throughout, and pushes the hallway past the norm of double loaded corridors. Rather than mandatory space, this feature makes circulation much more accessible and constructive. Because of this influence, circulation is routed through major spaces, resulting in maximum contact possibilities between students.



The most specific program of each core (i.e. The Black Box Theater) is located on the first floor, grounding the core and providing access to both public and service. These spaces then become less core specific as the extrude upwards (Media Playground). The Core is meant to attract students, and this Programatic significance must be emphasized in the design.  The OSLA achieves this through several strategies.

  • Be visible and pronounced from a distance, so students can easily locate desired specialty resources.
  • Create perceptible continuity of the core. This is created in the Media Design core by using the Black Box Theater as a Mass, continuous through floors.
  • Provide double height, or atrium space surrounding the Core, visibly isolating the mass and highlighting continuity.
  • Use Glass walls to show void and draw spectators. This allows sensory connection while controlling unwanted sound or interaction.
  • Control ceiling height to suggest the core continues upwards through the building. As seen in the Media playground, this can designate core spaces while allowing plenty of permeability.
  • Use color to further highlight core spaces, primary colors are used to designate primary cores.


The Cluster is a buzzing network of information. The purpose of this cluster is to house 150 students, and reaxamine an educational ecosystem with open source learning in mind. The clusters occupy one floor of their respective bridges, and function as more than circulation to and from each core. Each is composed of four parts.

  • Classrooms
  • Teacher Hub
  • Labs
  • Commons

The Cluster is organized with connections in mind. While the exact organization varies slightly, it is in close proximity to the circulation of the bridge. Use varies, with some students coming and going quickly near circulation paths while others settle into group seating or lounges. Situated closest to the commons, the Teacher Hub provides help from teachers, while its student heavy location creates a more integrated teacher to student relationship. Classrooms flank each lab space, encouraging a “learn by doing” process.

Day In the Life

DAY in the LIFEv3

Final Project Post

As a wrap-up to our 20 weeks together in the Open Source Learning Lab, I am asking for two more blog posts.  The first is a presentation of your final project.  Please do not simply post the PDF of your final boards, but use the blog format to present graphically and verbally the intentions of the project.  This should include moving across the entire comprehensive nature of the project from concept of OSL all the way through to the wall section.  This should state in a clear declarative way what the project is about and how it works, it does not need to go into process of how you got there – but can and should connect to process by linking back to other posts in this blog (from either winter or spring term development).  Please take some time to prepare this, including final archival photographs of physical models, as this is the final lasting record of your work in the OSL Lab.