All you architecture and interior design students, once again the time comes for selection of thesis subject. The pressure is building up, and there are prime decisions need to be taken. Whether you are an Architecture student, interior design, fashion or graphic design, end of semester project or thesis is a tough task to select. It is very difficult task that challenging self with best fitted thesis project and final deliverable with equally finesse, is what your architectural design thesis all about. So, here we are try to put some facts and factors that cab be considered when you select your thesis topic.

Way to Select a Design Thesis Topic!

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So, Friends first of all try to narrow it down to topics most relevant to the industries you are interested in. Because, often companies prefer candidates that have some level of knowledge or experience in their field, and this can help boost that perception even if you haven’t started working in that field yet.

It also needs to be something you personally find interesting. You’re going to be staring at this for a while, so it better be something you won’t get tired of too quickly. Even thesis topics you’re passionate about will get old, so make sure it’s something you don’t mind spending your energy on.

Let’s start with step by step,….

Aim of your Design Thesis

Architectural Design is for the greater good. No matter what you design, it has to achieve something. Like,..

  • What are your objectives?
  • How do you want to contribute?
  • How can your thesis make a difference?
  • Does your research help a part of the world?
  • Does your thesis use or innovate a new design methodology?

Again, it is important to think about your context, and arrive at something which aims to not just impress the jury, but also plants an idea, that if this design were to be truly executed, it would bring about a certain change.

The aim of your design thesis, need not be complicated or out of world. It could be something very obvious, and very articulate. For example, a topic like devising a built structure to reduce pollution levels in Mumbai, by proposing a sustainable design while actively using technology to reduce and control pollution, is an aim everyone will relate to. It isn’t complicated, it isn’t something people haven’t thought about. But coming up with that thesis topic in the form of your project is sure to win you points.

Try to Select any Proposed project

Academically, it is the thumb rule number one. Taking up a real-time design project which is going to be built will snatch away any possibility to get harassed justifying your thesis project. If not one has to do some real-time brainstorming to convince the juror validating the project. That apart, one need not work out on the requirements and the area estimation but just blindly follow the ones that have been listed out by the client. It’s like preparing for an exam when you have been given the important questions.

Don’t try to Swim the Ocean

The design thesis topic needs to be something fairly narrow for a thesis. Too broad or complex of a topic and it won’t get done in the time you have. Avoid getting frustrated and overwhelmed later by bouncing ideas off someone more experienced who can help you gauge the difficulty and complexity of the topic you are considering. Then actually listen to them. They’re probably right. Instead, set a moderate goal and a stretch goal if you are set on something more lofty. This is just chapter one. Pace yourself.

The Typology of the Building Project

It is advisable to avoid thesis projects which are on urban level or lie in the similar typology. It may be a small but important reminder. Logically one needs to invest more time as the number of buildings increases and we are drained out of both energy & patience by the time we reach to the detailing or presentation part. Lesser the number of buildings, more efficiently one can focus on design and present the work better.

Thesis Topic must Stand-out Individual

Your thesis topic is a sum of your design ideals and philosophies which you’ve picked up over the course of study. It needs to incorporate all the principles and design lessons learn over the years. Thesis is also about projecting your individuality, and your distinctive design approach. Look for topics which stand out, where you think there’s a gap in information, which gives you a good balance between data which can be found, and information which you can decipher and put forth.

It is also a good option to go for a topic, you haven’t dealt with in the course so far. It gives you the chance to experiment, learn a lot about a new kind of design, and gives you an edge above your classmates.

However, don’t go all crazy with the different part. Its not necessary that a topic, if different, will guarantee a good score. Lots of work and research is required to achieve a good final product, and there should be no dearth of research material and case studies.

Thesis Topic that Subject of Interest

After spending almost four years in an architecture school every student carves his or her own niche in the academics. We come to terms with what excites and what doesn’t, which building fascinates us and which one is just a filler. We develop a certain style of dealing with a design problem and know what are our strengths and weaknesses.

One needs to make a list of interests, ideas that you’ve got over the years, current affairs and needs of the world, future needs of the world, (if everyone designs for today, who will design for the future?) and what personally intrigues you in design.

So give this gut feeling a voice. Somewhere deep down we can gauge as to which kind of project has the potential to unleash our caliber and match our sensibility. You have the answer, you just need to have the conviction to finalize it.

  1. Do Urban forums interest you or private spaces?
  2. Do you like bold and daring design, or you are more inclined to simple minimalist designs?
  3. What materials do you like to experiment with? What software are you good at?
  4. Is is possible to convey the design through the software you know how to best use?

These are important self awareness questions you need to answer before choosing a topic. Sometimes, students get carried away with the thoughts and ideas in their brain, (which is a good thing), but then they are unable to deliver those thoughts on paper because of lack of software knowledge.

Topics can also be selected on the basis of what you haven’t tried before and want to build up on. For example, if you think you lack knowledge of building services, you can consider a topic like a Hospital, where you’ll have plenty of scope to learn and incorporate building services. If you’ve never designed a building for a terraced or sloping site, you could consider that a challenge worth taking for your thesis. In the end, a thesis is about gaining confidence as a professional, and learning and overcoming all your fears before you step out in the real world.

Get some Solid Advice from Reliable Source

It is always better to seek an advice. Consulting the faculty helps to get a perspective of the juror as to what is it that they look for in a jury and what are the aspects that should be considered for choosing the thesis topics. Catching up with the immediate seniors will help to figure out the issue a lot better. Their first-hand experience definitely helps you to look at what things to examine minutely before settling for a topic. A list of reference documents may also expose us to new ideas and outlook towards the project.

Realistic Approach towards Thesis Design Topic

Choosing a topic for thesis project is the college’s way of preparing you for the real world. Enough dreamy designs, and more practical approach is appreciated. It’s a good idea, to think about your thesis topic in a pragmatic way. Ask yourself questions like,

  1. Would this project ever be given the green signal by the City Corporation?
  2. How much money would it require?
  3. Will there be any returns if it were to be actually built?
  4. Would a client accept this flaw?

(FYI, if the answer to that question is no, then rework the design).

It is helpful, if you ask your thesis guide to play a couple of roles with you. Imagine him to be the one sanctioning money for your project i.e. the client. He can also be your structural engineer or services consultant. Try to keep all your thesis data, organized, in proper dated folders, like you would in an office. Try considering factors of cost, bylaws, how feasible would be services and furniture placement in the form you have designed, how much would be the carbon footprint of the building owing to the materials selected etc.

Select Unique Design Thesis Topic that don’t Bore!

If your design thesis topic title was a link online- would you want to click on it? You want to choose a topic that attracts people and is memorable enough that they call you back when they want to hire. Opt for topics that most people don’t know about and would be curious to learn more, or evoke an emotional response.

The thesis project selection and the solution will give an insight as to what we as architects or designer would cater to the society in general. The building that we design shall have a role to play in the betterment of the people and that power should be used efficiently. Take a look at the requirements of people, see if any development around you needs an architectural intervention. Keep a track of the ongoing trends and you might just hit a jackpot.

People remember things better if there is a strong emotion associated with them, but make sure to balance. Doing your thesis on S&M subculture or sex toys will be memorable, but if you’re not prepared for future employers to associate the topic with you personally, don’t.

Do a quick search before you finalize your topic and make sure it isn’t an area that has been done to death. Avoid things that sound like a PSA (e.g., fighting childhood obesity, get people active, eating healthy) or are as old as time (e.g., ergonomic chairs/desks/non-specialized products).

Accept positive criticism open hearty

Now the thing about design is, everyone reacts to it differently. Take the feedback in a good, positive way. Work on your mistakes, and rework your design to rid it of any flaws, or silly impractical oversights.

A design is never complete. You can make it better and better. Feedback and criticism isn’t given to discourage you, but to make you realize your blunders and correct them, so its important you take it constructively. Giving your thesis mentor, the role of a client (in your mind) helps a lot, because when a client gives suggestions, points out mistakes and says no to something, it is impossible to avoid rework on them.

Don’t be disheartened if you hear negative comments, try to positively understand what the problem is, analyze it and channel your energy into correcting those problems rather than dwelling on how biased the system is. Trust me, that doesn’t help.

Practical Tips to Pick Architectural Design Thesis Topic

  1. Have faith in your design, passionately work towards making it a success and defend it strongly.
  2. Presenting your thesis in a legible, beautiful and comprehensible format is very important. Your design could be brilliant, but if you fail to convey it in a coherent easy and attractive way, it may just fall flat.
  3. Take care, to finish your work at the given deadlines, late work is never appreciated. You cant rush design or ideas, and starting at a very late hour, may result in a very bad output. You need to give yourself the time and mind frame to think and calculate, so work hard from day one, and don’t procrastinate.
  4. Don’t compete with other students, compete with yourself. It sounds difficult, but each person’s idea and design formulating technique is different. If you try to copy someone else thought, it might not sit in your thesis context and thus make it worse.
  5. Try building a good rapport with your thesis guide. You need to understand him/her, and vice versa. Don’t let negative thoughts enter your mind, they’re only going to affect your work.
  6. Take strategic, well planned breaks. Taking a power nap, can boost your energy when you resume work, or eating a favorite snack can charge you up. However, take care that the break doesn’t stretch on for hours.
  7. Read and research! Find out everything there is to know about your topic. Any question asked in the jury has to be met with an answer. If you let the panel feel, that you don’t know more about the topic than they do, you’ll be in for a hard grill.
  8. Reason your design. Every single dot and line on the sheets, has to have a meaning. Also, don’t be thick enough to miss the North Sign, (if you’re an architecture student) you’ll just be inviting trouble!
  9. Hopefully, the tips above can help you decide a topic. Be brave and persevere. Thesis is one of the most important projects you’ll do, and it will last a lifetime. So make it a good one! Best of Luck!

So, never convince yourself, that everything’s been done. There is nothing new for me to offer. The world is limitless, and there are infinite possibilities. It is the duty of every architect and designer, to give the world something new, and you can never shrug that responsibility.

Engage your mind in World documentaries, read texts online, watch the news, take a short trip, and ideas are sure to flood your brain. Don’t limit yourself to available thesis documents, and tried and tested ideas. Go beyond what is already done, or put your own spin on something conventional, and you’re sure to win the jury over!

Final Thoughts…

Architectural thesis is arguably the most important milestone in the academic career of an architecture or design student. A unique design problem where the student has the flexibility to choose his own and address it with his own design solution. Ideally, thesis project is supposed to be the best yield of creative effort in the entire course of study. Almost every generation of students is in this dilemma as to what the thesis topic should be. One can have a look at some sublime reminders that might help you to consider a topic for your thesis.

About the author

AJ

An architect and founder member of Kadva Corporation. For giving your thoughts a wing, join with me. Be a mind of man & woman.

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