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The Architectural Apparatus


“When nature has, under this hard shell, developed the seed for which she cares most tenderly-namely, the inclination and the vocation for free thinking-this works back upon the character of the people (who thereby become more and more capable of acting freely) and finally even on the principles of government, which finds it to its advantage to treat man, who is now more than a machine, in accord with his dignity.”                                                                                                 -Immanuel Kant


What are the apparatus(es) that allow architecture to happen and how do we make the Architectural Apparatus(es) of today? Rhino, Maya and CAD were adopted over two decades ago. How can we trust that these large corporations will keep the interests of the architect in mind as they further develop these tools? When will we take control of our own future and convey architecture the way we wish to by using the tools that we developed? I say it is now but let’s understand it first. Before it is too late. Before we get replaced like the autoworkers in the midwest. While many might think that because we are in a creative industry we are shielded from such harsh realities, the truth of the matter is that a large part of our industry is doing very mundane and repetitive or near-repetitive processes which may already have been replaced by softwares and algorithms.


This is a wild re-imagining of SCI_ARC's infamous CR grading system. ALL STUDENTS WILL GET A CR+/A+. THIS IS AN EXERCISE IN PARTICIPATION AND PASSION.

The Architectural Apparatus

This vertical studio aims to question what constitutes an architectural apparatus by looking into the architectural model and model making process. When you are working on architecture inside of a particular computer program, why are you doing it? Are you doing it because you want to or because the program wants you to? Are you using the program because it is truly the best program for the job or are you using it because that is the program you are most comfortable in? What if you could design your own software and do architecture the way you would like to? Would it lead to a more diverse pool of designs? Could the architectural “model” be rethought?


The architectural model is often presented to be refined and beautiful, often takes months to build. But how useful are these refined final models? I would argue for rougher models but more intuitive and quicker to build. Students should treat model making as a game and something fun to do rather than a tedious expenditure of time and money. The concept of the “sketch model” should be playful, intuitive and improvisational. If we were to understand that play (suggested in Homo Ludens) is primary to the generation of culture and that the architectural discourse itself is a game, then what does it take to win in such a game? Students are required to play 2 seasons of the architectural video game in Qube Saga for the semester. 


While Play is fun, Play is also competitive and requires a certain degree of rigour. There will be winners and losers. The students will be split up into teams of three. The team that wins at the playoffs will receive a CR+. The team that receives the most points at the end of the season will get a CR+. The players of each team (MVPs) who score the most points at the end of the season will receive a CR+. Teams may trade players before the playoff as long as they have a ⅔ majority in the decision. Points can be traded as well. 


The game that the students will be playing is Qube Saga. They will have 10 mins to design and build with assets they have built beforehand. Students and Jury vote for what they think is the best design anonymously through the game. Votes will be tallied up after the match. There will be 2 matches a week. A season is 7 weeks. Play-off is a week and it is a single round elimination. Teams may modify the game however they want through their own DLCs or Mods to produce a “better” result. 

Qube Saga

Play-Off Bracket Example:

Play-Off Bracket Example

Kick-off Exercise:

Kick-off Exercise

Student Learning Objectives and Outcomes


  • Student Learning Objective 1: Win Student Learning Outcome 1: Students will figure out how to win or game a system.

Course Organization and Requirements

I don’t really care what you do. There is ultimately only one objective which is to win. How you do it is ultimately not my concern. If you perceive winning in my class as getting a CR+ then there are 3 ways to win and two chances.


CR+ :

(Condition 1: Win a playoff)

(Condition 2: Score most points in a season)

(Condition 3: Become MVP)

CR  :

(If you didn’t get more than 10 points)

CR- :

(If you score less than 10 points)


(If you score no points)


Course Schedule


Week 01

M 01.11 Studio Lottery + Introduction (Creativity as a Structured System) 

Kick-off Exercise due on the same day

W 01.13 Teams Introductions & Discussions (Freedom in Design)

F 01.15 First Match of Season (Make an Interesting Object)


Week 02

W 01.18 Martin Luther King Jr. Day [no class]

W 01.20 Team Discussions (Flexible Concept V.S. Inflexible Implementation)

F 01.22 Match 2 (Make a Multi-Family Residential Typology)


Week 03

M 01.25 Match 3 (Make a Interesting Facade)

W 01.27 Team Discussions (Structural Rigour V.S. Intellectual Rigour)

F 01.29 Match 4  (Asset Randomizer)


Week 04

Black Lives Matter – Week of Action

M 02.01 Match 5 (Make a Single Family Residential Typology)

W 02.03 Team Discussions (Season Goals and System Goals)

F 02.05 Match 6 (30 Second Game)


Week 05

M 02.08 Match 7 (Make an Industrial Typology)

W 02.10 Team Discussions (Determinism vs Libertarian Free Will)

F 02.12 Match 8 (Switch Your Computer Screen)


Week 06

M 02.15 Match 9 (Combination Combine your Typologies and Objects)

W 02.17 Team Discussions (Scripting Workshop/Play-off Strategies)

F 02.19 Match 10 (ADA and Egress A.K.A Locate Your Systems)


Week 07

M 02.22 Team Session With SCI_Arc Psychologist

W 02.24 Play-Offs

F 02.26 Play-Offs


Week 08

M 03.01 Season 2 Match 1 (Backward Controls)

W 03.03 Team Discussions (External Competition VS Internal Competition)

F 03.05 Season 2 Match 2 (Make a Quirky Object)


Week 09

M 03.08 Season 2 Match 3 (Make a Commercial Typology)

W 03.10 Team Discussions (Nature VS Culture AND THEN US)

F 03.12 Season 2 Match 4 (Make a Playful Object)


Week 10

M 03.15 Season 2 Match 5 (Make a Powerful Section)

W 03.17 Team Discussions (Scripting Workshop)

F 03.19 Season 2 Match 6 (Monitor-Off)


Week 11

M 03.22 Season 2 Match 7 (Make an Interesting Object)

W 03.24 Team Discussions (Play-off Strategies)

F 03.26 Season 2 Match 8 (Make an Interesting System)


Week 12

M 03.29 Season 2 Match 9 (Combination Combine your Typologies and Objects)

W 03.31 Play-off Meditation Camp

F 04.02 Season 2 Match 10 (Make a Powerful System)


Week 13

M 04.05 Season 2 Match 11 (Combine your Systems with the Match 9 Objects)

W 04.07 Team Discussions (Play-off Strategies)

F 04.09 Season 2 Match 12 (Laggy Computer)


Week 14

M 04.12 Season 2 Match 13 (Pre-Playoff Test)

W 04.14 Play-off Training Camp

F 04.16 Team Session With SCI_Arc Psychologist


Week 15

M 04.19 Play-Offs

W 04.21 Play-Offs

F 04.23 Final Wrap-up (Produce Showreel for Archive)




  2. Nicholas Negroponte: One Laptop per Child, two years on

  3. Kentaro Toyama - Geek Heresy: Rescuing Social Change from the Cult of Technology

  4. Jose Sanchez - Gamescape

  5. Nassim Taleb - The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable

  6. Ian Cheng - Interview A Portal to Infinity



  1. Martin Heidegger - The Essence of Human Freedom

  2. Friedrich Nietzsche -  Beyond Good and Evil (Chapter I. Prejudices of Philosophers & Chapter II. The Free Spirit)

  3. Immanuel Kant - An Answer To The Question: What Is Enlightenment?

  4. Niccolò Machiavelli - The Prince Niccolò Machiavelli (Chapters IV to XIV)

  5. David Robb - Moral Responsibility and the Principle of Alternative Possibilities

  6. Baron D’Holbach - The System of Nature  (Chapter XI: Of the System of Man’s Free Agency)


  8. Jordan Peterson - Marionettes & Individuals 



  1. Thomas Hobbes - Leviathan (Chapter XIII: Of the Natural Condition of Mankind as Concerning their Felicity and Misery

  2. Johan Huizinga - Homo Ludens



  1. Sianne Ngai - Our Aesthetic Categories: Zany, Cute, Interesting

  2. Immanuel Kant - Observations on the Feeling of the Beautiful and Sublime

  3. Carol Duncan - The Aesthetics of Power

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