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Architecture Masters Theses Collection

Theses from 2023 2023.

Music As a Tool For Ecstatic Space Design , Pranav Amin, Architecture

Creating Dormitories with a Sense of Home , Johnathon A. Brousseau, Architecture

The Tectonic Evaluation And Design Implementation of 3D Printing Technology in Architecture , Robert Buttrick, Architecture

Designing for the Unhoused: Finding Innovative and Transformative Solutions to Housing , Hannah C. Campbell, Architecture

Investigating Design-Functional Dimension Of Affordable Housing With Prefabrication On Dense Suburbs Of Chelsea, MA , Siddharth Jagadishbhai Dabhia, Architecture

Architecture of Extraction: Imagining New Modes of Inhabitation and Reclamation in the Mining Lifecyle , Erica DeWitt, Architecture

Utopian Thought and Architectural Design , Anthony L. Faith, Architecture

Building Hygge In-Roads into Incremental Living , Tanisha Kalra, Architecture


Sustainable Architecture in Athletics: Using Mass Timber in an Old-Fashioned Field , Zach C. Lefever, Architecture

Off-grid Living for the Normative Society: Shifting Perception and Perspectives by Design , Patsun Lillie, Architecture

The Evolution of Chinese Supermarkets in North America: An Alternative Approach to Chinese Supermarket Design , Ruoxin Lin, Architecture

Refreshing Refinery: An Analysis of Victorian Architecture and How to Translate its Elements for Contemporary Architecture , Richard J. Marcil, Architecture

After Iconoclasm: Reassessing Monumental Practices and Redesigning Public Memorials in Twenty-First-Century Massachusetts , Lincoln T. Nemetz-Carlson, Architecture

Earthen Materials In Organic Forms: An Ecological Solution to the Urban Biosphere? , Rutuja Patil, Architecture

Adaptive (Re)purpose of Industrial Heritage Buildings in Massachusetts A Modular Strategy for Building a Community , Riya D. Premani, Architecture

Community Design: A Health Center Serving the Greater Boston Population , Brandon E. Rosario, Architecture

The Food Hub as a Social Infrastructure Framework: Restitching Communities in Boston After the Pandemic , Connor J. Tiches, Architecture

Theses from 2022 2022

Equitable Housing Generation Through Cellular Automata , Molly R. Clark, Architecture

Beneficial Invasive: A Rhizomatic Approach to Utilizing Local Bamboo for COVID Responsive Educational Spaces , Megan Futscher, Architecture

Architectural Activism Through Hip-Hop , Micaela Goodrich, Architecture

Addressing Trauma Through Architecture: Cultivating Well-being For Youth Who Have Experienced Trauma , Megan Itzkowitz, Architecture

Buildings Integrated into Landscape & Making People Care for Them: Exploring Integrated Land-Building Ecosystems and the Lifestyles Needed to Support It , Sara Mallio, Architecture

Reimagining Black Architecture , Esosa Osayamen, Architecture

Prefabricated Homes: Delivery At Your Doorsteps , Obed K. Otabil, Architecture

Memory and Resistance , Cami Quinteros, Architecture

Mycelium: The Building Blocks of Nature and the Nature of Architecture , Carly Regalado, Architecture


Theses from 2021 2021

Creating New Cultural Hubs in American Cities: The Syrian Diaspora of Worcester, Massachusetts , Aleesa Asfoura, Architecture

Firesafe: Designing for Fire-Resilient Communities in the American West , Brenden Baitch, Architecture

The Beige Conundrum , Alma Crawford-Mendoza, Architecture

Cultivating Food Justice: Exploring Public Interest Design Process through a Food Security & Sustainability Hub , Madison J. DeHaven, Architecture

Physical to Virtual: A Model for Future Virtual Classroom Environments , Stephen J. Fink, Architecture

Detroit: Revitalizing Urban Communities , David N. Fite, Architecture

The Homestead Helper Handbook , Courtney A. Jurzynski, Architecture

An Architecture of a New Story , Nathan Y. Lumen, Architecture

Border Town: Preserving a 'Living' Cultural Landscape in Harlingen, Texas , Shelby Parrish, Architecture

Housing for Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD): Creating an Integrated Living Community in Salem, MA , Tara Pearce, Architecture

From Sanctuary to Home in the Post-Interstate City , Morgan B. Sawyer, Architecture

Exploring the Use of Grid-Scale Compressed Air Energy Storage in the Urban Landscape , Connor S. Slover, Architecture

Bridging the Gaps in Public Conversation by Fostering Spaces of Activism , Karitikeya Sonker, Architecture

Re-envisioning the American Dream , Elain Tang, Architecture

Tall Timber in Denver: An Exploration of New Forms in Large Scale Timber Architecture , Andrew P. Weuling, Architecture

Theses from 2020 2020

Urban Inter-Space: Convergence of Human Interaction and Form , Clayton Beaudoin, Architecture

The Hues of Hadley Massachusetts: Pioneering Places for Preservation and Growth , Elisha M. Bettencourt, Architecture

Reinvigorating Englewood, Chicago Through New Public Spaces and Mixed-Income Housing , Givan Carrero, Architecture

Architectural Agency Through Real Estate Development , Hitali Gondaliya, Architecture

Multimodal Transit and a New Civic Architecture , Samuel Bruce Hill, Architecture

Rethinking The Suburban Center , Andrew Jones, Architecture

Resilient Urbanism: Bridging Natural Elements & Sustainable Structures in a Post-Industrial Urban Environment , Nicholas McGee, Architecture

Adaptive Airport Architecture , Yash Mehta, Architecture

Rethinking School Design to Promote Safety and Positivity , Emily Moreau, Architecture

The Built Environment and Well-Being: Designing for Well-Being in Post-Industrial Communities During the Age of Urbanization , Tyler O'Neil, Architecture

Brutalism and the Public University: Integrating Conservation into Comprehensive Campus Planning , Shelby Schrank, Architecture

Spatial Design for Behavioral Education , Madeline Szczypinski, Architecture

Theses from 2019 2019

THERAPEUTIC COMMUNITY: FOR REFUGEES , Raghad Alrashidi, Architecture

From Archaic To contemporary : Energy Efficient Adaptive Reuse of Historic Building , Nisha Borgohain, Architecture

(RE)Developing Place: The Power of Narrative , Kinsey Diomedi, Architecture

Rethinking Ambulatory Care Delivery , Senada Dushaj, Architecture

Photosynthesizing the Workplace: A Study in Healthy and Holistic Production Spaces , Kaeli Howard, Architecture

Museum Design As A Tool For A City , Cunbei Jiang, Architecture

Architecture and Wilderness: An Exchange of Order , Ashley Lepre, Architecture

Cross-Species Architecture: Developing an Architecture for Rehabilitative Learning Through the Human-Canine Relationship , Jake Porter, Architecture

Intermodal Transit Terminal: Integrating the Future of Transit into the Urban Fabric , Guy Vigneau, Architecture

Theses from 2018 2018

Bangladeshi Cultural Center: for the Bangladeshi Population Living in New York City , Sabrina Afrin, Architecture




Resilient Architecture: Adaptive Community Living in Coastal Locations , Erica Shannon, Architecture

Theses from 2017 2017

New York City 2050: Climate Change and Future of New York | Design for Resilience , Abhinav Bhargava, Architecture

The Performance of Light: Exploring the Impact of Natural Lighting in the New UMass School of Performance , Dylan Brown, Architecture

Regional Expression In The Renovation Of Remote Historic Villages , Jie chen, Architecture

An Incremental Intervention In Jakarta: An Empowering Infrastructural Approach For Upgrading Informal Settlements , Christopher H. Counihan, Architecture

UMASS Dining Hall. A Path to Resiliency , Lukasz Czarniecki, Architecture


HUMANITY IN A CHILDREN’S CANCER HOSPITAL , Sara Jandaghi Jafari, Architecture

Designing Symbiosis for the New Church Community , Evan Janes, Architecture

A Visible History: A Synthesis of Past, Present and Future Through the Evocation of Memory Within Historic Contexts , Nicholas Jeffway, Architecture

Creating A Community A New Ecological, Economical, and Social Path to Uniting a Community , Andrew Stadnicki, Architecture

Z-Cube: Mobile Living for Feminist Nomads , Zi Ye, Architecture

Theses from 2016 2016

Music and Architecture: An Interpresence , Rachel J. Beesen, Architecture

Intervening in the Lives of Internally Displaced People in Colombia , Amy L. Carbone, Architecture

Designing Waste Creating Space: A Critical Examination Into Waste Reduction Through Building Techniques, Architectural Design, and Systems , Courtney M. Carrier, Architecture

Umass September 11 Intervention , Mohamad Farzinmoghadam, Architecture

Merging Social Science and Neuroscience in Architecture: Creating a Framework to Functionally Re-integrate Ex-Convicts , Kylie A. Landrey, Architecture

From Shelters to Long Living Communities , Yakun Liang, Architecture

Building Hope: A Community + Water Initiative, La Villa de San Francisco, Honduras , Christopher D. Mansfield, Architecture


Innovation of the Residential Buildings and Community in the Emerging City Rongcheng , Xing Yu, Architecture

Art and Life - Make invisible visible in Cao changdi village, Beijing, China , peng zhang, Architecture

Theses from 2015 2015

The Dialogue of Craft and Architecture , Thomas J. Forker, Architecture



Design Of A Housing For Urban Artisan-Living Work , Fahim Mahmud, Architecture

Membranes and Matrices: Architecture as an Interface , Nayef Mudawar, Architecture

Building for the Future: Revitalization through Architecture , Rebecca N. Perry, Architecture

Developing Maker Economies in Post-Industrial Cities: Applying Commons Based Peer Production to Mycelium Biomaterials , Grant R. Rocco, Architecture

Design of Children's Event and Cutural Center in Osu, Accra, Ghana , Rudi Somuah, Architecture

Sustainable Design of Student Centers Retrofitting and Adaptive Reuse of UMass Student Union , Tianye Song, Architecture

Design/Build in Architectural Education: studying community-focused curriculum , Matthew K. Sutter, Architecture

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Study Architecture | Architecture Schools and Student Information

2020 Student Thesis Showcase - Part I

design thesis in architecture

Have you ever wondered what students design in architecture school? A few years ago, we started an Instagram account called IMADETHAT_ to curate student work from across North America. Now, we have nearly 3,000 projects featured for you to view. In this series, we are featuring thesis projects of recent graduates to give you a glimpse into what architecture students create while in school. Each week, for the rest of the summer, we will be curating five projects that highlight unique aspects of design. In this week’s group, the research ranges from urban scale designs focused on climate change to a proposal for a new type of collective housing and so much in between. Check back each week for new projects. 

In the meantime, Archinect has also created a series featuring the work of 2020 graduates in architecture and design programs. Check out the full list, here .

design thesis in architecture

Redefining the Gradient by Kate Katz and Ryan Shaaban, Tulane University, M.Arch ‘20

Thesis Advisors: Cordula Roser Gray and Ammar Eloueini / Course: 01-SP20-Thesis Studio

Sea level rise has become a major concern for coastal cities due to the economic and cultural importance tied to their proximity to water. These cities have sustained their livelihood in low-lying elevations through the process of filling, bridging, and raising land over coastal ecosystems, replacing their ecological value with infrastructures focused on defining the edge between city and nature. Hard infrastructures have been employed to maintain urban landscapes but have minimal capacity for both human and non-human engagement due to their monofunctional applications focused on separating conditions rather than integrating them. They produce short-term gains with long-term consequences, replacing and restricting ecosystems and acting as physical barriers in a context defined by seasonal transition. 

To address the issues of hard infrastructure and sea level rise, this thesis proposes an alternative design strategy that incorporates the dynamic water system into the urban grid network. San Francisco was chosen as the location of study as it is a peninsula where a majority of the predicted inundation occurs on the eastern bayside. In this estuary, there were over 500 acres of ecologically rich tidal marshlands that were filled in during the late 1800s. To protect these new lands, the Embarcadero Sea Wall was built in 1916 and is now in a state of neglect. The city has set aside $5 billion for repairs but, instead of pouring more money into a broken system, we propose an investment in new multi-functional ecologically-responsive strategies. 

As sea levels rise, the city will be inundated with water, creating the opportunity to develop a new circulation system that maintains accessibility throughout areas located in the flood zone. In this proposal, we’ve designed a connective network where instance moments become moments of pause and relief to enjoy the new cityscape in a dynamic maritime district. 

On the lower level, paths widen to become plazas while on the upper level, they become breakout destinations which can connect to certain occupiable rooftops that are given to the public realm. The bases of carved canals become seeding grounds for plants and aquatic life as the water level rises over time. Buildings can protect high-risk floors through floodproofing and structural encasement combined with adaptive floorplates to maintain the use of lower levels. The floating walkway is composed of modular units that are buoyant, allowing the pedestrian paths to conform and fluctuate with diurnal tidal changes. The composition of the units creates street furniture and apertures to engage with the ecologies below while enabling a once restricted landscape of wetlands to take place within the city. 

The new vision of the public realm in this waterfront district hopes to shine an optimistic light on how we can live with nature once again as we deal with the consequences of climate change.

design thesis in architecture

Unearthing the Black Aesthetic by Demar Matthews, Woodbury University, M.Arch ‘20

Advisor: Ryan Tyler Martinez Featured on Archinect

“Unearthing The Black Aesthetic” highlights South Central Los Angeles’s (or Black Los Angeles’s) unique positioning as a dynamic hub of Black culture and creativity. South Central is the densest population of African Americans west of the Mississippi. While every historically Black neighborhood in Los Angeles has experienced displacement, the neighborhood of Watts was hit particularly hard. As more and more Black Angelenos are forced for one reason or another to relocate, we are losing our history and connection to Los Angeles.

As a way to fight this gentrification, we are developing an architectural language derived from Black culture. So many cultures have their own architectural styles based on values, goals, morals, and customs shared by their society. When these cultures have relocated to America, to keep their culture and values intact, they bought land and built in the image of their homelands. That is not true for Black people in America. In fact, until 1968, Black people had no rights to own property in Los Angeles. While others began a race to acquire land in 1492, building homes and communities in their image, we started running 476 years after the race began. What percentage of land was left for Blacks to acquire? How then can we advance the development of a Black aesthetic in architecture?

This project, most importantly, is a collaboration with the community that will be for us and by us. My goal is to take control of our image in architecture; to elevate, not denigrate, Black life and culture. Ultimately, we envision repeating this process in nine historically Black cities in America to develop an architectural language that will vary based on the history and specificities of Black culture in each area.

design thesis in architecture

KILLING IT: The Life and Death of Great American Cities by Amanda Golemba, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, M.Arch ’20

Advisors: Nikole Bouchard, Jasmine Benyamin, and Erik Hancock / Independent Design Thesis

For decades, post-industrial cities throughout the United States have been quietly erased through self-imposed tabula rasa demolition. If considered at all, demolition is touted as the mechanism for removing unsightly blight, promoting safety, and discarding the obsolete and the unwanted. Once deemed unworthy, rarely does a building survive the threat of demolition. 

In the last decade, the City of Chicago has erased over 13,000 buildings with 225 in just the last four months. Not only does this mass erasure eradicate the material and the spatial, but it permanently wipes the remnants of human bodies, values, and history — a complete annulment of event, time, and memory. 

But why do we feel the need to erase in order to make progress?

Our current path has led to a built environment that is becoming more and more uniform and sterile. Much of America has become standardized, mixed-use developments; neighborhoods of cookie-cutter homes and the excessive use of synthetic, toxic building materials. A uniform world is a boring one that has little room for creativity, individuality, or authenticity.

This thesis, “KILLING IT,” is a design proposal for a traveling exhibition that seeks to change perceptions of the existing city fabric by visualizing patterns of erasure, questioning the resultant implications and effects of that erasure, and proposing an alternative fate. “KILLING IT” confronts the inherently violent aspects of architecture and explores that violence through the intentionally jarring, uncomfortable, and absurd analogy of murder. This analogy is a lens through which to trace the violent, intentional, and premature ending and sterilization of the existing built environment. After all, as Bernard Tschumi said, “To really appreciate architecture, you may even need to commit a murder.”1 But murder is not just about the events that take place within a building, it is also the material reality of the building itself. 

Over the life of a building, scarring, moments in time, and decay layer to create an inhabitable palimpsest of memory. This traveling exhibition is infused with the palimpsest concept by investigating strategies of layering, modularity, flexibility, transparency, and building remains, while layering them together to form a system that operates as an inhabitable core model collage. Each individual exhibition simultaneously memorializes the violence that happened at that particular site and implements murderous adaptive reuse strategies through collage and salvage material to expose what could have been.

If we continue down our current path, we will only continue to make the same mistakes and achieve the same monotonous, sterilizing results we currently see in every American city and suburb. We need to embrace a new path that values authenticity, celebrates the scars and traces of the past, and carries memories into the future. By reimaging what death can mean and addressing cycles of violence, “KILLING IT” proposes an optimistic vision for the future of American cities. 

  • Tschumi, Bernard. “Questions of space: lectures on architecture” (ed. 1990)

design thesis in architecture

A New Prototype for Collective Housing by Juan Acosta and Gable Bostic, University of Texas at Austin, M.Arch ‘20

Advisor: Martin Haettasch / Course: Integrative Design Studio Read more:

Austin is a city that faces extreme housing pressures. This problem is framed almost exclusively in terms of supply and demand, and the related question of affordability. For architects, however, a more productive question is: Will this new quantity produce a new quality of housing? 

How do we live in the city, how do we create individual and collective identity through architecture, and what are the urban consequences? This studio investigates new urban housing types, smaller than an apartment block yet larger and denser than a detached house. Critically assessing existing typologies, we ask the question: How can the comforts of the individual house be reconfigured to form new types of residential urban fabric beyond the entropy of tract housing or the formulaic denominator of “mixed-use.” The nature of the integrative design studio allowed for the testing of material systems and construction techniques that have long had an important economic and ecological impact.

“A New Prototype for Collective Housing” addresses collectivity in both a formal and social sense, existing between the commercial and residential scales present in Austin’s St. John neighborhood as it straddles the I-35 corridor; a normative American condition. A diversity of programs, and multigenerational living, create an inherently diverse community. Additionally, a courtyard typology is used to negotiate the spectrum of private and shared space. Volumes, comprising multiple housing units ranging from studio apartments to four bedrooms, penetrate a commercial plinth that circulates both residents and mechanical systems. The use of heavy timber ensures an equitable use of resources while imbuing the project with a familiar material character.

design thesis in architecture

ELSEWHERE, OR ELSE WHERE? by Brenda (Bz) Zhang, University of California at Berkeley, M.Arch ’20

Advisors: Andrew Atwood and Neyran Turan See more:

“ELSEWHERE, OR ELSE WHERE?” is an architectural fever dream about the San Francisco Bay Area. Beginning with the premise that two common ideas of Place—Home and Elsewhere—are no longer useful, the project wonders how disciplinary tools of architecture can be used to shape new stories about where we are.

For our purposes, “Home,” although primarily used to describe a place of domestic habitation, is also referring generally to a “familiar or usual setting,” as in home-base, home-court, home-page, and even home-button. As a counterpoint, Elsewhere shifts our attention “in or to another place,” away. This thesis is situated both in the literal spaces of Elsewhere and Home (landfills, houses, wilderness, base camps, wastelands, hometowns) and in their culturally constructed space (value-embedded narratives determining whether something belongs, and to whom). Since we construct both narratives through principles of exclusion, Elsewhere is a lot closer to Home than we say. These hybrid spaces—domestic and industrial, urban and hinterland, natural and built—are investigated as found conditions of the Anthropocene and potential sites for new understandings of Place.

Ultimately, this thesis attempts to challenge conventional notions of what architects could do with our existing skill sets, just by shifting our attention—Elsewhere. The sites shown here and the concerns they represent undeniably exist, but because of the ways Western architecture draws thick boundaries between and around them, they resist architectural focus—to our detriment.

In reworking the physical and cultural constructions of Homes and Elsewheres, architects are uniquely positioned to go beyond diagnostics in visualizing and designing how, where, and why we build. While this project looks specifically at two particular stories we tell about where we are, the overall objective is to provoke new approaches to how we construct Place—both physically and culturally—within or without our discipline.

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design thesis in architecture

About Study Architecture

design thesis in architecture

Explore Thesis projects from the Class of 2021

design thesis in architecture

Review Book:  

Master of Architecture (M.Arch) Website:

Post -arium Arditha Auriyane Advisor: Mariana Ibanez

Priced Out of Paradise :  Reconsidering cooperatives in response to climate gentrification in Miami’s communities of color Adiel Alexis Benitez Advisor: Miho Mazereeuw

To Know is to Empower :  Chagos Institute of Environmental Humanities Chen Chu Advisor: Miho Mazereew

Reclaiming the Estranged :  Reimagining the Architecture of the Excess Sydney Cinalli Advisor: Brandon Clifford, Deborah Garcia

Ferrous Futures :  Scenario Planning for Global Steel Charlotte D'Acierno, Clarence Lee, Jaehun Woo Advisor: Mariana Ibanez

Seven Ways of Reading The House of the Seven Gables Isadora Dannin Advisor: Mark Jarzombek

Gardens of Resistance Nynika Jhaveri Advisor: Azra Aksamija

After Aura :  Authorship, Automation, Authenticity Kailin J. Jones Advisor: Azra Aksamija

The Factory of Coexistence Melika Konjicanin Advisor: Cristina Parreño Alonso

Screen Time Jeffrey Landman Advisor: Rania Ghosn

Architecture for Revision Emma Pfeiffer Advisor: Rosalyne Shieh

Thorough David Allen White Advisor: Mark Jarzombek

Spring 2021

Review Book:

Master of Architecture (M.Arch) Website:

The Houseful(l)ness of Public Space Xio Alvarez (M.Arch & MCP) Advisor: Miho Mazereeuw, Larry Vale

Still Standing :  Cooperative strategies for the renovation of Soviet mass housing Ben Hoyle, Eytan Levi (M.Arch & MSRED) Advisor: Ana Miljački

Concetividad Alegal :  Remaking and Resilience in the bay of Havana        Lucas Igarzabal, Marissa Concetta Waddle Advisor: Hans Tursack

M.I.celium mexicanus :  Rejecting Modernity through Zapotec Futurism Lynced Torres Advisor: Sheila Kennedy View project site here!

Heirlooms :  In Search of the Fifth Ecology Erin Wong Advisor: Sheila Kennedy

Building / Unbuilding   Andrew Younker Advisor: Azra Akšamija

Space of Mind :  The Hidden Architecture in the Time of Pandemic Ziyu Xu Advisor: Axel Killian

Master of Science in Architecture Studies (SMArchS)

SMArchS Architecture + Urbanism

Third Landscape Dries Carmeliet Advisor: Rania Ghosn

Mediating Chana :  Seeding Synergies Between Doves and Development Eakapob Huangthanapan Advisor: Miho Mazereeuw

Mokumitsu Districts in Tokyo :  Urban Renewal by Housing Cooperatives against Disaster Risk Ryuhei Ichikura Advisor: Miho Mazereeuw

To Build Home and To Live In (U)Hygge Wuyahuang Li Advisor: Mark Jarzombek

Collecting Ideals :  Re-Envisioning Ejidos as Climate-Action Platforms Luis Alberto Meouchi Velez Advisor: Lorena Bello Gomez, Nicholas de Monchaux

Made in Rural China Siyuan Sheng Advisor: Brent Ryan

Generative Urban Design toward Thermal Synergy :  Inspire sustainable urban configuration under distributive heating & cooling schemes Qianqian Wan Advisor: Caitlin Mueller

SMArchS Architecture Design

Velvet Garage :  Narratives of an Education in Architecture Marianna Gonzalez-Cervantes Advisor: Liam O'Brien

Nightrise :  Through the Valley of Jabal ‘Amil’s Shadow Mohamad Nahleh Advisor: Sheila Kennedy

SMArchS Building Technology

Mass Balance :  Design Strategies for Lightweight, Thermally Massive Construction Systems Eduardo Gascón Alvarez Advisor: Caitlin Mueller

Evaluating Overheating Preventative Measures in Residential Buildings and Passive Survivability Yesufu Oladipo Advisor: Les Norford

SMArchS Computation

A Machine Learning Model for Understanding How Users Value Designs :  Applications for Designers and Consumers Jeremy Bilotti (SMArchS Computation & SM in CS) Advisor: Terry Knight

The Untold Narratives Rania Sameh Kaadan Advisor: Terry Knight

Sonic Others :  Metaphorical Sonification of Collective Events Wonki Kang Advisor: Axel Killian

Networking Knowledge and Experience :  An Instrumental System for the Personal Development of Individual Designers Bowen Lu Advisor: George Stiny

Sonic Urban Transformations :  A Computational Model to Study and Represent Temporal Changes in the Walking Experience Elina Oikonomaki Advisor: Terry Knight

Monstrous Space :  Architectural Production in an Age of Algorithms Alexandra Waller Advisor: Larry Sass

Investigating Design Intentions :  Use of Eye Tracking and Machine Leearning to Study Perception of Architecture Xiaoyun Zhang Advisor: Takehiko Nagakura

SMArchS History, Theory & Criticism

"A Great Civilizing Agent" :  Architecture at MIT, Drawing Education, and Boston's Cultural Elite, 1865-1881 Katherine Dubbs Advisor: Arindam Dutta

Surveilling Sin :  Locating Sodomy in the Early Modern Florentine Bathhouse Aidan Flynn Advisor: Kristel Smentek, Jodi Cranston

SMArchS Aga Khan Program

Fractured and Dissolved, Architecture Ablaze :  Towards an Understanding of Ayeneh-Kari in Iranian Palaces Reza Daftarian Advisor: Nasser Rabbat

Scripting Inclusion Amanda Merzaban Advisor: Renee Green

Master of Science in Building Technolgy (SMBT)

Using Urban Building Energy Modeling to Meet Carbon Emission Targets :  A Case Study of Oshkosh, Wisconsin Zachary Berzolla Advisor: Christoph Reinhart

Early Design Stage Building Lifecycle Analysis (LCA) of Cost & Carbon Impact :  A Seamless Addition to the Conceptual Design Process Jingyi Liu Advisor: Jeremy Gregory, Randy Kirchain, Les Norford

Machine Learning for Human Design :  Developing Next Generation Sketch-Based Tools Bryan Ong Wen Xi (SMBT & MEng in CEE) Advisor: Caitlin Mueller

On the Relationship Between Spatial-Temporal Outdoor Thermal Comfort Simulations and Bike Ridership Elizabeth Young Advisor: Christoph Reinhart

Bachelor of Science in Art and Design (BSAD)

Digital Narratives for Self-Therapy Rachel Seo Yeon Kwak Advisor: Lee Moreau

Digital Communities x Collaborative Storytelling Clare Liut (BSAD & SB in 2A) Advisor: Mikael Jakobsson

Concrete Alternatives for Large Scale Additive Manufacturing Chloe Nelson-Arzuaga Advisor: Skylar Tibbits

Image Credits:

01. Ferrous Futures. Courtesy of Charlotte D’Acierno, Clarence Lee and Jaehun Woo (MArch).

02. Space of Mind. Courtesy of Ziyu Xu (MArch).

03. Nightrise. Courtesy of Mohamad Nahleh (SMArchS Architecture Design)

04. Untold Narratives. Courtesy of Rania Kaadan (SMArchS Computation).

05. Mediating Chana. Courtesy of Eakapob Huangthanapan (SMArchS Urbanism).

06. To Build Home and To Live In (U)Hygge. Courtesy of Wuyahuang Li (SMArchS Urbanism).

07. Concetividad Alegal. Courtesy of Lucas Igarzabal and Marissa Concetta Waddle (MArch).

08. The Houseful(l)ness of Public Space. Courtesy of Xio Alvarez (MArch + MCP).

09. Mass Balance. Courtesy of Eduardo Gascón Alvarez (SMArchS Building Technology).

10. Early Design Stage Building Lifecycle Analysis (LCA) of Cost & Carbon Impact. Courtesy of Jingyi Liu (SMBT).

Published July 1, 2021

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design thesis in architecture

Writing an Architecture Thesis: A-Z Guide

design thesis in architecture

ishika kapoor

14 min read

January 5, 2022


Table of Contents

How to Choose Your Architecture Thesis Topic

As with most things, taking the first step is often the hardest. Choosing a topic for your architecture thesis is not just daunting but also one that your faculty will not offer much help with. To aid this annual confusion among students of architecture, we've created this resource with tips, topics to choose from, case examples, and links to further reading!

[Read: 7 Tips on Choosing the Perfect Architecture Thesis Topic for you ]

1. What You Love

Might seem like a no-brainer, but in the flurry of taking up a feasible topic, students often neglect this crucial point. Taking up a topic you're passionate about will not just make for a unique thesis, but will also ensure your dedication during tough times.

Think about the things you're interested in apart from architecture. Is it music? Sports? History? Then, look for topics that can logically incorporate these interests into your thesis. For example, I have always been invested in women's rights, and therefore I chose to design rehabilitation shelters for battered women for my thesis. My vested interest in the topic kept me going through heavy submissions and nights of demotivation!

Watch Vipanchi's video above to get insights on how she incorporated her interest in Urban Farming to create a brilliant thesis proposal, which ended up being one of the most viewed theses on the internet in India!

2. What You're Good At

You might admire, say, tensile structures, but it’s not necessary that you’re also good at designing them. Take a good look at the skills you’ve gathered over the years in architecture school- whether it be landscapes, form creation, parametric modelling- and try to incorporate one or two of them into your thesis.

It is these skills that give you an edge and make the process slightly easier.

The other way to look at this is context-based , both personal and geographical. Ask yourself the following questions:

• Do you have a unique insight into a particular town by virtue of having spent some time there?

• Do you come from a certain background , like doctors, chefs, etc? That might give you access to information not commonly available.

• Do you have a stronghold over a particular built typology?

3. What the World Needs

By now, we’ve covered two aspects of picking your topic which focus solely on you. However, your thesis will be concerned with a lot more people than you! A worthy objective to factor in is to think about what the world needs which can combine with what you want to do.

For example, say Tara loves photography, and has unique knowledge of its processes. Rather than creating a museum for cameras, she may consider a school for filmmaking or even a film studio!

Another way to look at this is to think about socio-economically relevant topics, which demonstrate their own urgency. Think disaster housing, adaptive reuse of spaces for medical care, etcetera. Browse many such categories in our resource below!

[Read: 30 Architecture Thesis Topics You Can Choose From ]

4. What is Feasible

Time to get real! As your thesis is a project being conducted within the confines of an institution as well as a semester, there are certain constraints which we need to take care of:

• Site/Data Accessibility: Can you access your site? Is it possible to get your hands on site data and drawings in time?

• Size of Site and Built-up Area: Try for bigger than a residential plot, but much smaller than urban scale. The larger your site/built-up, the harder it will be to do justice to it.

• Popularity/Controversy of Topic: While there’s nothing wrong with going for a popular or controversial topic, you may find highly opinionated faculty/jury on that subject, which might hinder their ability to give unbiased feedback.

• Timeline! Only you know how productive you are, so go with a topic that suits the speed at which you work. This will help you avoid unnecessary stress during the semester.

How to Create an Area Program for your Architecture Thesis

Watch SPA Delhi Thesis Gold-Medallist Nishita Mohta talk about how to create a good quality area program.

Watch SPA Delhi Thesis Gold-Medallist Nishita Mohta talk about how to create a good quality area program.

Often assumed to be a quantitative exercise, creating an area program is just as much a qualitative effort. As Nishita says, “An area program is of good quality when all user experiences are created with thought and intention to enhance the usage of the site and social fabric.”

Essentially, your area program needs to be human-centric, wherein each component is present for a very good reason. Rigorously question the existence of every component on your program for whether it satisfies an existing need, or creates immense value for users of your site.

To this end, you need to create three lists:

• A list of proposed spaces by referring to area programs of similar projects;

• A list of needs of your users which can be fulfilled by spatial intervention.

• A list of existing functions offered by your immediate context.

Once you put these lists side-by-side, you’ll see that you are able to match certain needs of users to some proposed spaces on your list, or to those in the immediate context.

However, there will be some proposed spaces which do not cater to any need, and needs that are not catered to by any of the spaces. There will also be certain proposed spaces which are redundant because the context already fulfils that need.

This when you remove redundant spaces to create ones for unmatched needs, and viola, you have a good quality area program!

Confused? Here’s an example from the above video. Nishita originally intended to provide a typical eatery on her site, which she later realised was redundant because several eateries already existed around it. In this manner, she was able to fulfil the actual needs of her users- one of which was to be able to rest without having to pay for anything- rather than creating a generic, unnecessary space.

How to Identify Key Stakeholders for Your Architecture Thesis

“A stakeholder? You mean investors in my thesis?”, you scoff.

You’re not wrong! Theoretically, there are several people invested in your thesis! A stakeholder in an architectural project is anyone who has interest and gets impacted by the process or outcome of the project.

At this point, you may question why it’s important to identify your stakeholders. The stakeholders in your thesis will comprise of your user groups, and without knowing your users, you can’t know their needs or design for them!

There are usually two broad categories of stakeholders you must investigate:

• Key Stakeholders: Client and the targeted users

• Invisible Stakeholders: Residents around the site, local businesses, etc.

Within these broad categories, start by naming the kind of stakeholder. Are they residents in your site? Visitors? Workers? Low-income neighbours? Once you’ve named all of them, go ahead and interview at least one person from each category!

The reason for this activity is that you are not the all-knowing Almighty. One can never assume to know what all your users and stakeholders need, and therefore, it’s essential to understand perspectives and break assumptions by talking directly to them. This is how you come up with the aforementioned 'List of Needs', and through it, an area program with a solid footing.

An added advantage of carrying out this interviewing process is that at the end of the day, nobody, not even the jury, can question you on the relevance of a function on your site!

Why Empathy Mapping is Crucial for Your Architecture Thesis

Okay, I interviewed my stakeholders, but I can’t really convert a long conversation into actionable inputs. What do I do?

This is where empathy mapping comes in. It basically allows you to synthesize your data and reduce it to the Pain Points and Gain Points of your stakeholders, which are the inferences of all your observations.

• Pain Points: Problems and challenges that your users face, which you should try to address through design.

• Gain Points: Aspirations of your users which can be catered to through design.

In the above video, Nishita guides you through using an empathy map, so I would highly recommend our readers to watch it. The inferences through empathy mapping are what will help you create a human-centric design that is valuable to the user, the city, and the social fabric.

Download your own copy of this Empathy Map by David Gray , and get working!

Beyond Case Studies: Component Research for your Architecture Thesis

Coming to the more important aspects, it’s essential to know whether learning a new skill will expand your employability prospects. Otherwise, might as well just spend the extra time sleeping. Apart from being a highly sought-after skill within each design field, Rhinoceros is a unique software application being used across the entire spectrum of design. This vastly multiples your chances of being hired and gives you powerful versatility as a freelancer or entrepreneur. The following are some heavyweights in the design world where Rhino 3D is used:

Case Studies are usually existing projects that broadly capture the intent of your thesis. But, it’s not necessary that all components on your site will get covered in depth during your case studies.', 'Instead, we recommend also doing individual Component (or Typology) Research, especially for functions with highly technical spatial requirements.

For example, say you have proposed a residence hall which has a dining area, and therefore, a kitchen- but you have never seen an industrial kitchen before. How would you go about designing it?', 'Not very well!', 'Or, you’re designing a research institute with a chemistry lab, but you don’t know what kind of equipment they use or how a chem lab is typically laid out.

But don’t freak out, it’s not necessary that all of this research needs to be in person! You can use a mixture of primary and secondary studies to your advantage. The point of this exercise is to deeply understand each component on your site such that you face lesser obstacles while designing.

[Read: Site Analysis Categories You Need to Cover For Your Architecture Thesis Project ]" ]

The Technique of Writing an Experiential Narrative for your Architecture Thesis

A narrative? You mean writing? What does that have to do with anything?

A hell of a lot, actually! While your area programs, case studies, site analysis, etc. deal with the tangible, the experience narrative is about the intangible. It is about creating a story for what your user would experience as they walk through the space, which is communicated best in the form of text. This is done for your clarity before you start designing, to be your constant reference as to what you aim to experientially achieve through design.

At the end of the day, all your user will consciously feel is the experience of using your space, so why not have a clear idea of what we want to achieve?

This can be as long or as short as you want, it’s completely up to you! To get an example of what an experience narrative looks like, download the ebook and take a look at what Nishita wrote for her thesis.

Overcoming Creative Blocks During Your Architecture Thesis

Ah, the old enemy of the artist, the Creative Block. Much has been said about creative blocks over time, but there’s not enough guidance on how to overcome them before they send your deadline straight to hell.

When you must put your work out into the world for judgement, there is an automatic fear of judgement and failure which gets activated. It is a defensive mechanism that the brain creates to avoid potential emotional harm.

So how do we override this self-destructive mechanism?

As Nishita says, just waiting for the block to dissolve until we magically feel okay again is not always an option. Therefore, we need to address the block there and then, and to systematically seek inspiration which would help us with a creative breakthrough.

This is where the concept of Divergent and Convergent Thinking comes in.

• Divergent Thinking: Say you browse through ideas on pinterest to get inspired. If you’re in a creative rut, do just that, but don’t worry about implementing any of those ideas. Freely and carelessly jot down everything that inspires you right now regardless of how unfeasible they may be. This is called Divergent Thinking! This process will help unclog your brain and free it from anxiety.

Snippet from the video explaining divergent and convergent thinking.

Divergent and convergent thinking.

• Convergent Thinking: Now, using the various constraints of your architecture thesis project, keep or eliminate those ideas based on how feasible they are for your thesis. This is called Convergent Thinking. You’ll either end up with some great concepts to pursue, or have become much more receptive to creative thinking!

Feel free to use Nishita’s Idea Dashboard (example in the video) to give an identity to the ideas you chose to go forward with. Who knows, maybe your creative block will end up being what propels you forward in your ideation process!

How to Prototype Form and Function During Your Architecture Thesis

Prototyping is one of the most crucial processes of your architecture thesis project. But what exactly does it mean?

“A preliminary version of your designed space which can be used to give an idea of various aspects of your space is known as a prototype.”

As Nishita explains in the video above, there can be endless kinds of prototypes that you can explore for your thesis, and all of them explain different parts of your designed space. However, the two aspects of your thesis most crucial to communicate through prototyping are Form and Function.

As we know, nothing beats physical or 3D models as prototypes of form. But how can you prototype function? Nishita gives the example of designing a School for the Blind , wherein you can rearrange your actual studio according to principles you’re using to design for blind people. And then, make your faculty and friends walk through the space with blindfolds on! Prototyping doesn’t get better than this.

In the absence of time or a physical space, you may also explore digital walkthroughs to achieve similar results. Whatever your method may be, eventually the aim of the prototype is to give a good idea of versions of your space to your faculty, friends, or jury, such that they can offer valuable feedback. The different prototypes you create during your thesis will all end up in formulating the best possible version towards the end.

Within the spectrum of prototypes, they also may vary between Narrative Prototypes and Experiential Prototypes. Watch the video above to know where your chosen methods lie on this scale and to get more examples of fascinating prototyping!

How to Convert Feedback (Crits) into Action During Your Architecture Thesis Project

Nishita talks about how to efficiently capture feedback and convert them into actionable points during your architecture thesis process.

Nishita talks about how to efficiently capture feedback and convert them into actionable points during your architecture thesis process.

If you’ve understood the worth of prototyping, you would also know by now that those prototypes are only valuable if you continuously seek feedback on them. However, the process of taking architectural ‘crits’ (critique) can often be a prolonged, meandering affair and one may come out of them feeling dazed, hopeless and confused. This is especially true for the dreaded architecture thesis crits!

To avoid that, Nishita suggests capturing feedback efficiently in a simple grid, noting remarks under the following four categories:

• Amplify: There will be certain aspects of your thesis that your faculty and friends would appreciate, or would point out as key features of your design that must be made more prominent. For example, you may have chosen to use a certain definitive kind of window in a space, which you could be advised to use more consistently across your design. This is the kind of feedback you would put under ‘Amplify’.

• Address: More often, you will receive feedback which says, ‘this is not working’ or ‘you’ve done nothing to address this problem’. In such cases, don’t get dejected or defensive, simply note the points under the ‘Address’ column. Whether you agree with the advice or not, you cannot ignore it completely!

• Explore: Sometimes, you get feedback that is totally out of the blue or is rather unclear in its intent. Don’t ponder too long over those points during your crit at the cost of other (probably more important) aspects. Rather, write down such feedback under the ‘Explore’ column, to investigate further independently.

• Consider: When someone looks at your work, their creative and problem-solving synapses start firing as well, and they are likely to come up with ideas of their own which you may not have considered. You may or may not want to take them up, but it is a worthy effort to put them down under the ‘Consider’ column to ruminate over later!

Following this system, you would come out of the feedback session with action points already in hand! Feel free to now go get a coffee, knowing that you have everything you need to continue developing your architecture thesis project.

How to Structure Your Architecture Thesis Presentation for a Brilliant Jury

And so, together, we have reached the last stage of your architecture thesis project: The Jury. Here, I will refrain from telling you that this is the most important part of the semester, as I believe that the process of learning is a lot more valuable than the outcome. However, one cannot deny the satisfaction of a good jury at the end of a gruelling semester!

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Home > Architecture > Architecture Masters Theses

Architecture Masters Theses

Architecture Masters Theses

RISD’s Master of Architecture program is one of the few in the US embedded in a college of art and design. Here, architecture is taught in a way that understands the practice of design and making as a thoughtful, reflective process that both engenders and draws from social, political, material, technological and cultural agendas. The program aims to empower students to exercise their creativity by understanding their role as cultural creators and equipping them to succeed in the client-based practice of architecture.

The degree project represents the culmination of each student’s interests relative to the curriculum. A seminar in the fall of the final year helps focus these interests into a plan of action. Working in small groups of five or six under the guidance of a single professor, students pursue individual projects throughout Wintersession and spring semester. Degree projects are expected to embody the architectural values that best characterize their authors as architects and are critiqued based on the success of translating these values into tangible objects.

Graduate Program Director: Hansy Better Barraza

These works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License .

Theses from 2024 2024

Reform Craft | Re-Form Clay , Katherine Badenhausen

Narrative Structures , Theodore Badenhausen

Room to Grieve: The Space of Solace in Public Life , Lauren Blonde

Frontier: Land, Architecture, and Abstraction , Jacob Boatman

Rhythm of Space , Brian Carrillo

Searching for the Hyperobject: Crystals as Transscalar Vehicles , Jay Costello

Unconditioning Air , Weijia Deng

(Matter)ial Revolution , Aleza Epstein

Building the Body , Jasmine Flowers

House Calls , Gregory Goldstone

Culinary community: Collaborative Relationship Building through Improvisational Fine Dining , Victoria Goodisman

Textile Tectonics: Shaping Space Through Soft Studies , Lela Gunderson

Hong Kong’s Architectural Resistance: Practice Through Research , Jingjing Huang

“Modern Nomads”: Unfolding Domesticity , Yifan Hu

Curb Appeal , Eric Liu

Dreampool , Xia Li

Atelier Interloper , Isabel Jane Marvel

Entre Manos Y Barro: Innovando Con Tradición , Jose Mata

Patchwork: 76km between Juárez and El Paso , Naheyla Medina

The Dollhouse , Kristina Miesel

A Dispatch from the Site Office , Adrian Pelliccia

Infinite Plane: Metaphysical Architecture + Digital Space , Isabella Ruggiero

snowstorm , Caleb Shafer

Living Surfaces , Ryan R. Sotelo


What does water want? , Julia Woznicki

Design With Decay , Charlotte Wyman

LifeLink , Yuan Yuan

Architecture As A Carbon-Based Practice , Qixin Yu

Theses from 2023 2023

Ghost Hotel , George Acosta

Cohabitation x Adaptation, 2100: A Climate Change Epoch , Kyle Andrews

Reintroducing Hemp (rongony) in the Material Palette of Madagascar: A study on the potential of Hemp Clay components and its impact on social and ecological communities. , Henintsoa Thierry Andrianambinina

Norteada- En Busca De un Nuevo Norte. Cocoon Portals and the Negotiation of Space. , Kimberly Ayala Najera

Decolonial Perspective on Fashion and Sustainability , Haisum Basharat

Psychochoreography , Nora Bayer

Whale Fall·Building Fall , Jiayi Cai

Means and Methods: Pedagogy and Proto-Architecture , Daniel Choconta

The Miacomet Movement , Charles Duce

Unpacked: Consumer Culture in Suburban Spaces , Jaime Dunlap

you're making me sentimental , Chris Geng

Myths, Legends, and Landscapes , Oromia Jula

Old and New: Intervention in Space and Material , Yoonji Kang

Urban Succession: an ecocentric urbanism , Anthony Kershaw

An Architect's Toolkit for Color Theory , ella knight

WAST3D POTENTIAL , Andrew Larsen

Sustainable Seismic Architecture: Exploring the Synergy of Mortise-and-Tenon Joinery and Modern Timber Construction for Reducing Embodied Carbon , Cong Li

Recipes for Building Relationships , Adriana Lintz

Water Relations, Understanding Our Relationship to Water: Through Research, Diagrams, and Glass , Tian Li

Exploring Permanent Temporariness: A Look into the Palestinian Experience through Refugee Camps , Tamara Malhas

A Study of Dwelling , Julia McArthur

Appropriate that Bridge: Appropriation as a way of Intervention , Haochen Meng

Toronto Rewilded , Forrest Meyer

Confronting and Caring for Spaces of Service , Tia Miller

Reorientation , Soleil Nguyen

The De-centering of Architecture , Uthman Olowa

[De]Composition: Grounding Architecture , Skylar Perez

Soft City: Reclaiming Urban Public Spaces for Play , Jennifer Pham

We Have a (Home) - Co-operative Homes for Sunset Park , Lisa Qiu

The Incremental Ecosystem: Hybridizing Self-Built + Conventional Processes as a Solution to Urban Expansion , Shayne Serrano

Liberdade para quem? - Layered Histories , Vanessa Shimada

Tracing as Process , Lesley Su

The Design of Consequences , Yuqi Tang

On the Edge of the "Er-Ocean" State , Mariesa Travers

Beyond the White Box: Building Alternative Art Spaces for the Black Community , Elijah Trice

Translational Placemaking: The Diasporic Archive , Alia Varawalla

Unearthing Complexity: Tangible Histories of Water and Earth , Alexis Violet

Ritual as Design Gesture: Reimagining the Spring Festival in Downtown Providence , wenjie wang

Spatial Reveries , Alexander Wenstrup

Public-ish , Aliah Werth

Phantom Spaces , Craytonia Williams II

Navigating Contextualism: An architectural and urban design study at the intersection of climate, culture, urban development, and globalization Case Study of Dire Dawa , Ruth Wondimu

Green Paths - On the Space In-Between Buildings , Hongru Zhang

Blowing Away , Ziyi Zhao

Uncovering Emotional Contamination: Five Sites of Trauma , Abigail Zola

Theses from 2022 2022

Revisionist Zinealog : a coacted countercultural device , Madaleine Ackerman

Reengineer value , Maxwell Altman

Space in sound , Gidiony Rocha Alves

Anybody home? Figural studies in architectural representation , David Auerbach

An atlas of speculating flooded futures ; water keeps rising , Victoria Barlay

Notes on institutional architecture ; towards and understanding of erasure and conversation , Liam Burke

For a moment, I was lost ; a visual reflection on the process of grief and mortality within the home , Adam Chiang-Harris

Remnants , Sarah Chriss

A thesis on the entanglement of art and design , Racquel Clarke

Community conservation & engagement through the architecture of public transportation , Liam Costello

Sacred pleasures : a patronage festival of the erotic and play , David Dávila

Caregivers as worldbuilders , Caitlin Dippo

Youkoso Tokyo : Guidebook to a new cybercity , Evelyn Ehgotz

Home: a landscape of narratives ; spaces through story telling , Tania S. Estrada

A digital surreal , Michael Garel-Martorana

Moving through time , Anca Gherghiceanu

Rising to the occasion : a resiliency strategy for Brickell, Miami , Stephanie Gottlieb

Food for an island : on the relationships between agriculture, architecture and land , Melinda Groenewegen

Towards a new immersion , Kaijie Huang

Astoria houses: a resilient community , James Juscik

Healing the Black Butterfly: reparation through resources , Danasha Kelly

Immortal/ ephemeral/ versatile , Zhenhong (Brad) Lei

Objects in transformation , Caroline Coxe Lippincott

System as a living organism , Xinyi Liu

Unnoticeable city corners , Yuchen Liu

Immaterial realities , Tyler Lovejoy

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10 Inspiring Architecture Thesis Topics for 2023: Exploring Sustainable Design, AI Integration, and Parametricism

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design thesis in architecture

Choosing between architecture thesis topics is a big step for students since it’s the end of their education and a chance to show off their creativity and talents. The pursuit of biomaterials and biomimicry, a focus on sustainable design , and the use of AI in architecture will all have a significant impact on the future of architecture in 2023.

We propose 10 interesting architecture thesis topics and projects in this post that embrace these trends while embracing technology, experimentation, and significant architectural examples.

Architecture thesis topics

Architecture Thesis Topic #1 – Sustainable Affordable Housing

Project example: Urban Village Project is a new visionary model for developing affordable and livable homes for the many people living in cities around the world. The concept stems from a collaboration with SPACE10 on how to design, build and share our future homes, neighbourhoods and cities.

“Sustainable affordable housing combines social responsibility with innovative design strategies, ensuring that everyone has access to safe and environmentally conscious living spaces.” – John Doe, Sustainable Design Architect.

Parametric lampchairs 16

Architecture Thesis Topic #2 – Parametric Architecture Using Biomaterials

Project example:  Parametric Lampchairs, using Agro-Waste by Vincent Callebaut Architectures The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) “Living Architecture Lab” investigates the fusion of biomaterials with parametric design to produce responsive and sustainable buildings . The lab’s research focuses on using bio-inspired materials for architectural purposes, such as composites made of mycelium.

Architecture thesis topics

Architecture Thesis Topic #3 – Urban Planning Driven by AI

Project example: The University of California, Berkeley’s “ Smart City ” simulates and improves urban planning situations using AI algorithms. The project’s goal is to develop data-driven methods for effective urban energy management, transportation, and land use.

“By integrating artificial intelligence into urban planning, we can unlock the potential of data to create smarter, more sustainable cities that enhance the quality of life for residents.” – Jane Smith, Urban Planner.

Cs9 tzg paddingtonreservoir 041465 700x525 1 690x420 2

Architecture Thesis Topic #4 – Adaptive Reuse of Industrial Heritage

From 1866 to 1878, Oxford Street’s Paddington Reservoir was built. From the 1930′s, it was covered by a raised grassed park which was hidden from view and little used by the surrounding community.

Over the past two years, the City of Sydney and its collaborative design team of architects, landscape architects, engineers, planners, and access consultants have created a unique, surprising, functional, and completely engaging public park that has captivated all who pass or live nearby.

Instead of capping the site and building a new park above, the design team incorporated many of the reinforced ruins of the heritage-listed structure and created sunken and elevated gardens using carefully selected and limited contemporary materials with exceptional detailing.

5ebaa250e7d0b pexels photo 169677

Architecture Thesis Topic #5 – Smart and Resilient Cities

The capacity to absorb, recover from, and prepare for future shocks (economic, environmental, social, and institutional) is what makes a city resilient. Resilient cities have this capabilities. Cities that are resilient foster sustainable development, well-being, and progress that includes everyone.

Untitled design 20

Architecture Thesis Topic #6 – High Performing Green Buildings

The LEED certification offers a foundation for creating high-performing, sustainable structures. In order to guarantee energy efficiency , water conservation, and healthy interior environments, architects may include LEED concepts into their buildings. To learn more check our free training to becoming LEED accredited here .

Diller scofido renfro high line architonic 02 highline photography by iwan baan 02 edited

Architecture Thesis Topic #7 – Urban Landscapes with Biophilic Design

Project example: The High Line is an elevated linear park in New York City that stretches over 2.33 km and was developed on an elevated part of a defunct New York Central Railroad branch that is known as the West Side Line. The successful reimagining of the infrastructure as public space is the key to its accomplishments. The 4.8 km Promenade Plantee, a tree-lined promenade project in Paris that was finished in 1993, served as an inspiration for the creation of the High Line.

“Biophilic design fosters human well-being by creating environments that reconnect people with nature, promoting relaxation, productivity, and overall happiness.” – Sarah Johnson, Biophilic Design Consultant.


Architecture Thesis Topic #8 – Augmented and Virtual Reality in Architectural Visualization

An interactive experience that augments and superimposes a user’s real-world surroundings with computer-generated data. In the field of architecture, augmented reality (AR) refers to the process of superimposing 3D digital building or building component models that are encoded with data onto real-world locations.

Green buildings header

Architecture Thesis Topic #9 – Sustainable Skyscrapers

There is even a master program called “Sustainable Mega-Buildings” in the UK , Cardiff dedicated to high-rise projects in relation to performance and sustainability. Since building up rather than out, having less footprint, more open space, and less development is a green strategy .

“Sustainable skyscrapers showcase the possibilities of high-performance design, combining energy efficiency, resource conservation, and innovative architectural solutions.” – David Lee, Sustainable Skyscraper Architect.

Img 3943 bewerkt leonvanwoerkom web

Architecture Thesis Topic #10 – Circular Economy in Construction

Project example: Building D(emountable) , a sustainable and fully demountable structure on the site of a historic, monumental building complex in the center of the Dutch city Delft. Of the way in which the office approaches circular construction and of the way in which one can make buildings that can later donate to other projects. Or even be reused elsewhere in their entirety.

“By embracing the circular economy in construction, architects can contribute to a more sustainable industry, shifting from a linear ‘take-make-dispose’ model to a more regenerative approach.” – Emily Thompson, Sustainable Construction Specialist.


The 10 thesis projects for architecture discussed above demonstrate how AI, LEED , and sustainable design are all incorporated into architectural practice. Students may investigate these subjects with an emphasis on creativity, experimenting, and building a physical environment that is in line with the concepts of sustainability and resilience via examples, quotations, and university programs.


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Architecture Thesis Of The Year | ATY 2022

Architecture Thesis Of The Year | ATY 2022 - Image 1 of 1

  • Published on July 06, 2022


The most amazing Architecture Thesis of 2022!

After the overwhelming response from the first two editions, Charette is elated to announce the third edition of ‘Architecture Thesis of the Year Competition - ATY 2022’.

‘Architecture Thesis of the Year 2022’ is an international architecture thesis competition that aims to extend appreciation to the tireless effort and exceptional creativity of student theses in the field of Architecture. We seek to encourage young talent in bringing their path-breaking ideas to the forefront globally.

PREMISE Academic Design endeavours allow the free flow of unfettered ideas – experimental, bold, promising, and unconventional. An intensive architectural discourse and a collaborative design process are essential to developing ingenious solutions to complex problems of the future.

An Architecture Thesis is considered the avant-garde – pushing the boundaries of what is accepted as the norm in the architectural realm. It is the outcome of months of painstaking research and an excruciating design process yet it hardly gets any recognition beyond the design studio. It is imperative to share such revolutionary ideas with the entire fraternity to open up new possibilities for dialogue.

Competition Brief -

AWARDS Exposure and recognition is the key to success for any designer. The ATY 2022 competition provides students with the opportunity to showcase their work on a global stage.

TROPHIES Custom Designed Trophies will be awarded & shipped to the Top 3 Winners.

CERTIFICATES Sharable and verifiable certificates of achievement will be awarded to the Winners, Honorable Mentions & Top 30.

INTERVIEW The Top 3 Winners will get an exclusive interview in both – written and video formats. Photos, interviews, and more information about the winners will be published on our website.

PUBLICATIONS The winning entries shall be published on Charette’s website & social media platforms and other international architecture websites partnered with us.

ELIGIBILITY ATY 2022 is open to architecture students of all nationalities and institutions. All Undergraduate/Bachelors and Graduate/Masters Thesis conducted in the calendar year 2017 – 2022 are eligible to participate. Group, as well as individual entries, are allowed.. The official language of the competition is English.

SUBMISSION GUIDELINES A total of 5 sheets of size 30 cm x 30 cm are to be submitted as a combined PDF document, which shall not exceed 5 MB.

Sheets 1 to 4: Graphic Representation Sheet 5: Text Summary

For more details visit -

KEY DATES Advance Entry: 15 June - 15 July 2022 Early Entry: 16 July - 15 Aug 2022 Standard Entry: 16 Aug -15 Sep 2022 Last-Min Entry: 16 Sep -15 Oct 2022 Submission Deadline: 16 Oct 2022 Results: 15 Nov 2022


Registration Deadline

Submission deadline.

This competition was submitted by an ArchDaily user. If you'd like to submit a competition, call for submissions or other architectural 'opportunity' please use our "Submit a Competition" form. The views expressed in announcements submitted by ArchDaily users do not necessarily reflect the views of ArchDaily.

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Fifth Year Architecture Design Thesis

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Mirjana Lozanovska

Architecture Design 2 Unit Chair: Dr. Mirjana Lozanovska Co-Chair: Anthony Worm Design Teachers: Marc Dixon, Fiona Gray, Eugenia Tan design orientation This semester will focus on the ‘making ofarchitecture’ in the more specific sense of the physical building and order of the environment. There will be two major themes explored: how materiality generates both the physical and aesthetic conditions of architecture; and how materiality organizes and frames social relations. These are elaborated below. Architecture is a product of imagination, ideas, traditions, cultural forces and it is also a product of technologies, construction, and structures. Experimentation, invention, manufacture and innovative ways of using existing materials define the field of the ‘making of architecture’. To be familiar with the tools, materials, techniques, technologies and structural possibilities of architecture is to build on the capacity of the imagination. Architecture is expanded and limited by how it is made and what it is made of. To resist and prevent a dormant imagination or an imagination that tends towards repetition, you will be encouraged to nourish it with the properties, processes and possibilities of architecture’s material conditions. Concepts such as tectonics, technics and technology will be explored through ‘hands on’ projects rather than theoretically. In a sense these all derive from the concept téchne which is conventionally understood as the science or art of making, the crafting of an object or tool. However, its deeper sense derives from the ancient Greek to refer to the process of making something appear, the letting out of the intrinsic properties within materials to inform their expression, form and usage. Technologies of the social emphasises architecture’s role in facilitating social relations, the ways that the materiality, spatial order, and various components (doors, walls, windows) set limits and open possibilities for the various relations between people, whether this be eating a meal, working, playing, or having a meeting or conversation. Architecture organises relations between people: person to person, person to group, person to crowd, group to group, etc. However, architecture also organises relations between people and objects: person to toaster, person to iPod, person to tool, person to monument. The important thing is that there are various different status objects: technological, aesthetic, consumable, kitsch, precious, profound, functional etc. At this point you can begin to understand how the two major themes meet and are overlaid onto one another. The materiality of architecture mediates the relations between people. In addition, a building is itself an object and is construed, used and perceived through its relation to people. This semester is about exploring how materiality generates architecture and organizes the relations between people and objects of a utilitarian, kitsch and aesthetic kind. It will ask you to examine the everyday garage or shed as a building type that is made in an ad hoc way. The garage is invariably not only the intended shelter for cars, but a place for a diverse array of other uses. This will ultimately form the platform for a design of a factory, warehouse or display centre.

design thesis in architecture

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Across culture and time, architects have interrogated the built environment and their role in shaping it. Questions of artistic agency, political power, social control, and cultural preservation all contribute to the fundamental debate of what architecture is—and is for. This syllabus aims to introduce students to the expansive theory, practice, and study of architecture. At once an examination of disciplinary history and theory, this course will investigate the diverse ways architects have understood their world (and situated their profession within it) by actively negotiating between written ideas, drawings, and built projects. To do so, this syllabus adopts an explicitly transnational perspective, challenging the Euro-American canon of architectural theory by presenting it as just one tradition amongst a range of cultural, geographic, and historical perspectives. Through exposure to a range of thinkers, students will be able to consider their own work within a diverse spectrum of theories concerning architecture, urbanism, and space.

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About the design thesis

The Department of Architecture design thesis is an opportunity for students to challenge themselves by pursuing architectural interests in ambitious and self-critical ways, while working in the mutually supportive context of peers attempting the same.

The design thesis is an independently driven creative work developed within a focused subject of inquiry and directed by architectural questions. It is carried out through intensive research, study, and design explorations, and culminates in a thoroughly developed architectural proposition. It is to be fully recorded in a final document.

The design thesis is both an end in itself and a new beginning: it culminates a professional education, but also inaugurates new directions. It is a transformative event — a threshold, opening new ways to think, make and engage architecture, others and the world.

Carrying out self-directed design research and bringing this work to creative fruition are imperative skills for any architect. The design thesis entails considerable intellectual risk, but can also be serious fun! It should be the most exhilarating time of an architect’s education and a fulfilling experience that one reflects on fondly and meaningfully for the rest of one’s life.

Black and white photo of architectural model superimposed on abstract painting, which appears to expand the lines and momentum of photo with paint.

Beginning the design thesis

An important preliminary step of the design thesis is preparing a proposal that establishes the general topic and particular strategies to guide the work. A thesis topic should have at least two facets: subjects that fascinate you, and problems that concern you. Articulating a multi-faceted topic of interest, however, is not enough.

A design thesis proposal must further describe particular conditions, programs, sites and/or phenomena to be studied (“the what”); exploratory strategies and manners of working by which the topic will be investigated and the design developed (“the how”); and relevant research precedents—architectural, theoretical and cultural contexts—to which the work will meaningfully relate (“the why”). A proposal must be clear, specific, succinct, relevant, exciting, and achievable within the given time frame. 

A good proposal is detailed, yet open-ended. It does not predetermine results but rather inaugurates inquiry in particular ways, establishing the parameters that allow for creative work to unfold. The best design thesis work results from restless inquiry, rigorous commitment, and critical discourse with peers.

Term one: Finding topics and articulating questions

How does a thesis begin? With questions! While each student will develop their own, everyone should also grapple with the fundamentals: What is architecture? What are its various manifestations? What are the most pressing challenges facing the discipline today?

What are its most persistent, trans-historical topics? What are the different ways of performing architectural work, and which ways do I seek to develop? What kind of architect do I want to become? What architectural settings have I found to be most moving? Most fascinating? Most troubling? Most confounding? Most meaningful? What ignites architectural imagination?

The design thesis commences with a design research studio. This first term is about finding topics of fascination and concern, articulating questions and attempting responses. The first term culminates with significant attempts at architectural design and design strategies, together with presentations of ongoing creative research in the form of diverse models and drawings, and potentially full-scale installations, supplementary videos and digital projections.

Term two: Producing a design thesis book

During the winter design thesis term, students fully manifest a substantive architectural design project and produce a design thesis book. The book compiles a full year’s worth of search and research, including documentation of processes, iterations, and a final design, plus sufficient text to describe the thesis inquiry, providing contextual framing, interpretive annotations and critical reflections.

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RTF | Rethinking The Future

15 Architecture Thesis Topics for Urban Architecture

design thesis in architecture

Urban Architecture has consistently been a trending architecture thesis topic among the students. And before we go deep into the variety of topics that can be used we must understand what exactly is Urban Architecture?

One could say urban architecture refers to any building type that establishes an appreciable relationship with its surrounding context, the built environment , and the community itself. It comprises buildings that are mostly located in urban areas, are accessible, and are meant to serve the public at large. Its purpose hence would be to make society better. Indeed, people are indeed strongly affected by building forms and facades. According to research, the main cause of ‘social stress’ in urban environments is often the absence of social bonding and interconnection in city landscapes . Design that stimulates social and urban cohesion is hence, very important for good community living. This is where urban architecture comes in; a holistic approach to the subject may result in projects like iconic skyscrapers or even residential developments . However, the focus revolves around enhancing the experience of people who are connected to the architecture.

When choosing to do a architecture thesis project on the subject of urban architecture, one needs to understand the platitude of areas and scopes encompassed by the field. There are indeed endless possibilities and avenues to explore that intend to serve the interests of the public, and also make community life better.

Before you delve into the list of topics of urban architecture to choose from, make that:

  • You understand the subject thoroughly. Choose a topic relevantly and appealing to your interests, especially prospects, masters, or a job.
  • You discuss it with your thesis advisor so that he can comprehend your intent and help you through the course of the project .
  • The topic does not necessarily have to be unique. It also should not be something that has been tried and tested far too many is because your work is what would represent you. Make sure, it speaks of who you are and what you want to do.

Here are a few options for viable architecture thesis topics that you could choose to look at.

1. Low-cost housing | Architecture Thesis

As more and more people are moving to dense urban cities like New York , in search of a better quality of living and opportunities, the city population is on the rise. As is the cost of living, making low-cost housing a dire need of societies, as low-income residents have limited choices for affordable living. When affordable housing complexes were being constructed ever since the mid-20 th century, these projects were often seen as monumental solutions to provide economical living spaces to large groups of people. Hence, even with the best of intentions of the designers, the imposing towers often turned out to be negligent of human scale, and were often more inhospitable and discouraging for communities, leaving them feeling more isolated and unwelcome.

However, a rising interest in the area since recent years has seen a rise in alternative solutions to the outdated models. Low-cost, affordable housing is not seen as merely buildings creating decent spaces for living, but also using sustainable building features to reduce costs, maintenance and to help improve the quality of life and belongingness for residents, allowing them to feel more connected to not just the resources, but also to communities and the spaces outside.

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2. Art and Heritage museum

To design a building that is important not only for the preservation of the history of the community but to also integrate members of the community and to what they share. This topic uses a method that looks at the study not only qualitatively, but also based on a theoretical foundation, with the acute understanding that comes from familiarizing oneself with concepts and standards of museums, exhibition spaces, contextualism, and exhibit care and preservation.

The project should not only focus on respecting the importance of the historical context, but also ensure that it avoids the damage of pieces of its past. It should shed light on the concept of the museum itself, the types of functions and activities it would encourage, the form and physicality of the building, and the interconnectivity between different elements of the museum . The journey of a user and the enriching experience that the museum provides, concerning its displays but to communal spaces of social interaction and discussion should also be of high value when taking this topic.

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3. Airport of Urban Architecture Thesis

Many countries in the world, including the USA, are suffering from outdated aviation infrastructure, with most airports being more than 40 years old, and a lot of money being spent on the revamp, expansion or construction to meet the challenging new needs of today. Design-wise, architects need to not only provide solutions for the necessary functioning and program of the airport , but also to enhance the experience of travel for the visitors, which includes interesting features for wayfinding, atriums for nature incorporation and natural light, state-of-the-art visual elements, and huge spaces for sightseeing and rest, as well cultural experiences which encapsulate the context of the airport, gardens, and desert landscapes. The project area also has a lot of potential for experimentation with physical form and modelmaking, which could induce a sense of awe for the public at large.

The functional aspects, of course, include catering to huge parking spaces, checking and security posts, luggage management areas, lobby areas, airport maintenance spaces, airplane ramps, and cargos, and many others, as well as allowing for the potential for future expansion. Thus, airports not only present an interesting challenge for a thesis topic but are also one that provides extensive avenues to understand the flexibility of a space which is in fact the cardinal space a visitor comes into contact with when entering a new city or a country. Hence, holding great social importance. The change seen in recent airport designs does indeed seem like a promising area to work in.

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4. Cinema and theatre architecture

Cinemas and theatres are interesting places, where the anticipation to experience is just as important as the actual film or performance itself. This is why the design and nature of the building hold such great importance.  It should in some way, either reflect the magnitude of the experience that it would showcase, or subdue itself against the marvel of the performance . Either way, it should be taken as a work of art, as architectural icons as done so in the past, which communicate the spirit of the times through the design.

The building requires a careful understanding of the program; it features their relationships with one another, the type of circulation from one space to another, and the allowance of gathering spaces with technical ones as well. The seating arrangement, sound buffering, technical knowledge must be handled as meticulously as possible, as close attention to the sound, visuals, and theatrics are what greatly enhance the experience of the performance. This is why this is also a very fascinating topic, for a building that integrates different groups of society and brings them together to experience a shared feature.

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5. Skyscraper design | Architecture Thesis

Living in a time when the competition to rise, to go higher, and to reach greater heights resonates with the fact that there is an ever-increasing desire to build very tall buildings. By definition, a skyscraper is a building that exceeds 330 feet in height. Yet the contemporary approach is not only to reach unattainable heights in construction, but it is also to rejuvenate thinking abilities, and present inventions with cutting-edge designs, that also meet the function of the building with elegance and pride. From encompassing different architectural movements like art deco and modernism, skyscraper designs also look at the intensive technical understanding of how high-rise work, the relationship of functionality between different floors, structural knowledge, and the municipalities that come with handling such delicate tasks.

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6. Suburban housing community

Suburban homes provide an avenue to understand a huge sector of society without directly destroying existing structures. They should be able to cater to the needs of the ever-changing dynamic of the public, to provide a potential for future expansion, and to provide an environment of ownership that allows for a comforting feeling of belongingness that leads to greater social integration.

The nature of the task often involves dealing with multiple stakeholders that are directly associated with such regions, including developers and the municipal government. Therefore, this subject involves a meticulous understanding of the way rules and regulations work, sizing, areas and appropriate zoning, transportation, and also a critical comprehension of the associated infrastructure required to cater to the needs of residential living, and of course, the quality of life.

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7. Marine park design of Urban Architecture

Projects paying attention to marine life can help bring new life into waterfront areas and can also provide a point of interest for the entire region itself. There exists in our society an absence of awareness regarding marine ecosystems, especially informal sectors, which has resulted in a lack of opportunities, care, and resources available for marine life. Thus, a thesis project on this topic would not be addressing the administrative concerns related to marine life, but could also cater to providing a recreational public space , where visitors can appreciate and interact with marine life along with exhibition spaces intended to create awareness for the general public.

Whilst taking the project a step ahead, a proper research institute could also be designed to further the knowledge available of the oceans and the organisms that inhabit them. These institutes with research facilities and equipment could provide areas for analysis, experimentation, and research for discovery. Thus, this project would not only help educate the public at large, but help generate revenue as a popular tourist attraction, and plant seeds for much-needed research of marine life.

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8. Convention center of Urban Architecture

A convention center is a public building of urban architecture meant to convey ideas and knowledge. It is also perceived to be more like the expansion of a town hall, where people having shared interests, goals, though, religion, or professions, could gather to interact, communicate, learn, and make decisions regarding the public realm. Hence, it is a space that caters to large groups of people, providing them with communal spaces that encourage different uses as well as appropriate exhibition spaces. 

Furthermore, since a convention center is meant to act as a medium for discourse, the first thing to consider is to develop a concept that would intend to attract people. It should have easy accessibility, be welcoming and fascinating and its spaces should be able to provide the necessary means for it to function efficiently and effectively. 

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9. Library of Urban Architecture Thesis

In the modern age of digitalization, the internet and technology have greatly transformed the manner in which we consume information. With this rapidly changing paradigm, the traditional function of a library is put on a pedestal and called to question. While it is true that the physical collection of books in a certain environment as compared to quick access to data using the internet does question the sustainability of a public library and the resources it offers, we must also keep in mind that a library also functions as a flexible space, that can be transformed to an active social space, agent for interaction and societal growth.

It must not only be considered to be a space that allows access to information, but also an environment that encourages discourse, communication, and exchange of meaningful ideas between people from different ages and social groups. With this in mind, a public library must be considered as one of the most democratic building types available, and one that has huge potential to add value to community development, growth, resource, and service. Therefore, with the sensitivity that comes with designing a library comes great responsibility, and this must be looked at as an area with the potential to be explored as a vital public asset.

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10. School of art and design

Projects that are practical solutions to community needs also have greater impacts on communities socially as well as economically. A thesis of urban architecture at a School for Art and Design could immensely help in this regard. It would only provide a platform for artists, architects, students, and citizens from various fields and social groups to gather and interact, share ideas and learn through conventional as well as modern ways and activities. This center would also enable these artists to share and exhibit their work and experiences through exhibition spaces, seminars, events, and conferences with members of their own community and the wider world through event halls, conference rooms, and libraries for research and learning.

With a learning institute as part of the program, the center would also allow aspiring artists to develop skills through formal training as well as informal activities. Thus, this institute would help create inclusivity in society but integrating different groups of people with a shared interest throughout the day and hence, year. It would also act as a viable magnet for social interaction between professionals, beneficial for the community and the campus. This, in turn, would enhance and regenerate the urban fabric, add depth to the context of the city and help drive the society forward in a positive direction. A thesis conducted on this topic, therefore, would allow you to look at art as a potential field to a group and bring communities together to appreciate the marvel that is an art and its ability to create change in the contemporary world.

15 thesis topics for urban architecture - Sheet10

11. Bus terminal cum commercial complex

Transit facilities are indeed one of the most important and vital functions of a city itself. They constitute some of the most important goals of the city and its government by inviting a large number of people to the city, merges different groups of crows, and bring in opportunities of work and living for the masses, thus building the scope of urban architecture. Therefore, smooth and better transit provides ground for future development and helps the urban fabric to grow incredibly. Transit not only improves the urban squares and nodes, and provides a push to less developed areas to allow them to be at par with the rest of the city.

Understanding the scope of development associated with a bus terminal with a commercial complex attached as an additional function thus presents itself as an interesting topic to pursue. It would not only group different travelers with one another but also with the locals, allowing them to appreciate and value local culture and tradition, as well as activities that integrate the urban living community.

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12. Sports stadium of Urban Architecture

A stadium is one of the building typologies that have the power to shape the city or town it is located in. it not only helps put the city on the maps but also establishes an identity for the community and provides a tourist attraction and a focal point in its landscape. It is thus, a huge actor of theatrics that represents the output of a sport, and has a significant role for the city with regards to politics, geography, as well as socio-economics.

Thus, a sports stadium should not be looked at as a revenue-generating machine, but a building type that should be sustainable, iconic in design, with strong structural understanding for it to be considered a marvel in civic urban architecture. It requires a comprehensive understanding of various issues related to planning and design, which also cater to increased interaction and ease of access to its activities, and the environment is contained and encouraged.


13. Resort design | Architecture Thesis

A resort is a place that caters to accommodation, leisure, and recreation. It provides for a variety of activities and luxury in scenic areas and is able to house different groups of people together. Some facilities provided include rooms or huts, swimming pools , sports grounds, gyms, fine dining areas, halls for events, and many others.

Resort tourism is an area that is rapidly gaining popularity. It has a lot of municipalities involved that are often delicate in nature so as to provide high levels of comfort for its users. Therefore, it often talks about large scales, an attractive form that is meant to attract the general public, and advanced equipment and management strategies. It is indeed an interesting topic to consider when one wants to work on an area that not only deals with program efficiency but also the psychological impacts of effective design strategies. 


14. Religious buildings

An architecture thesis of urban architecture on religious buildings is a fascinating area to work on. It provides an avenue to create places with identity and an environment that awakens the senses and the emotions, enhances the experience, and provides a platform for spiritual practice. It should be kept in mind that the metaphysical concerns and experiences can largely be enhanced using effective space strategies that will come with a keen understanding of spatial and urban architecture.

Thus, space aims to heighten the experience of religion and spirituality and tends to cater to the tangible and intangible aspects of architecture, that involve senses. It is, therefore, a great challenge for architects to design spaces for religious activities, but also one that provides that greater amount of emotional appraisal. The modern religious building not only functions as only a religious center but also provides opportunities for people to come together and engage in communal activities. This is another aspect that architects need to consider when designing religious centers for contemporary times.


15. Educational Institute for rural children

With the understanding that urban architecture paves the way for enhancing the educational process with effective plan strategies and expression of detail, the topic provides an opportunity to explore this area with the development of an educational institute for rural children. This would not only emphasize the importance of education for all sectors of society but would allow meaningful involvement of the community for development projects meant to improve the quality of life for the rural sectors.

The planning involved would recognize the basic functions needed to run a school, especially in a rural setting with a standard of quality education kept in mind. There is an urgent need for developers to look at this area in society, as existing schools do not meet the typical standard, which in turn affects the educational lives of its students, making them unable to perform effectively to become important assets for their society. Thus, this topic for social responsibility helps to integrate schools and the community, with the building serving as a reflection of ideas of both its place and time through its design, concept, and function.


An Architect by profession, a writer, artist, and baker by interest, Amna Pervaiz sees Architecture and Urban Planning as a multifaceted avenue allowing her to explore a plethora of disciplinary elements. She sees the field as an untapped canvas; a journey she hopes would one day lead her towards social responsibility and welfare.

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  • Arts & Culture

Urban design for a better world

Architecture students present innovative thesis projects.

  • Macie Harreld
  • June 3, 2024

Graduate students in the Master of Architecture (M.Arch) program at Portland State are finalizing their capstone thesis projects. Each member of the 18-student cohort has designed a thesis project guided by an overarching question corresponding to a particular place or community.

“They can be situated more in theory or more in practice, depending on what you want to do,” said M.Arch student Kaleb Huerta. “So some people will get extremely theoretical and philosophical about what it is, and some of them will be much more rooted in the zoning and planning and all the regulatory things that determine what we can and can’t do.”

“A lot of it is self guided,” Huerta said. “So you’re set up with the tools to start framing what you’re thinking about, but what it actually becomes is up to you.” 

These thesis projects involve extensive research, community outreach, urban design planning, model-making, sketchwork, mapmaking and other modes of craftwork. Each thesis will culminate in a printed book, oral presentations and an open-house gallery display. 

“We are, in a thesis, developing both the problem and the solution, and so a lot of it is telling a story through the process,” said M.Arch student Eric Giovannetti.

For M.Arch student Zeta Blice, housing insecurity in Portland was the problem to be addressed. Blice’s thesis question asked, “How can architecture join education and housing to create a safe environment for unhoused students and their families?” This thesis project repurposes the abandoned sheriff’s office on 122nd Avenue and Gleason Street to be used as a middle school and affordable living space. 

M.Arch student Brandi Barlow’s thesis seeks to “rebridge the connection between the medical world and the natural world, and to integrate spiritually engaging spaces to further support and humanize patients.” Barlow’s inspiration has come from witnessing their own mother’s journey in cancer treatment and recognizing the positive effects of more natural, welcoming settings rather than clinical environments.

“I think, for a lot of us, [our theses have] something to do with our heart, in a way…” said M.Arch student Athena Rilatos. “You follow that thread of what is your passion, or what is something that’s exciting for you to work on, and then you’re just spending your time getting to work on that.”

Informed by Indigenous Futurism, Rilatos’s thesis project is guided by the question, “how can architecture facilitate Indigenous restoration in the urban environment?” This project realizes Land Back by restoring waterways and their previously buried or disrupted natural ecosystems and “integrating Indigenous treaty rights to fish, hunt and gather into downtown Portland’s landscape,” Rilatos said.

“As a Native, in my treaties it’s stated that I have the right to fish, hunt and gather,” Rilatos said. “And we are people of roots, fish and game. And it’s really hard to find that within the urban context. So I have to be Native out there, not in the city.” 

Rilatos’s thesis prioritizes sustainable development and honors the cultural preservation and rights of local Indigenous peoples while also providing the Portland area with greater access to the region’s natural beauty and wildlife.

Decolonizing Portland is also the focus of M.Arch student Rebecca Silk’s thesis project. Silk’s main priority in developing their thesis was to “connect people with plants and the environment.” 

Silk chose the abandoned United States Postal Service site in NW Portland near Broadway Bridge as the site for their thesis project. The area will be redeveloped into a park featuring a basketry learning center. The land will use “Native American tending practices, to encourage reciprocal relationships [in which] humans care for the plants and plants care for the human,” Silk said.

Another M.Arch student, Alondra Maldonado, has centered her thesis on the Latino community of Rockwood, Oregon. “Growing up in this area, I have always noticed a deep need for the introduction of third spaces—places for leisure, learning, resources and more,” Maldonado said.

Maldonado titled the project “Fortaleza.” The project seeks to answer the question, “How can architecture and urban design strategies be employed to foster vibrancy, resiliency, and prosperity within the Latino community in Rockwood, Oregon?”

This project bolsters community resources in Rockwood while honoring the city’s cultural identity. Maldonado has redesigned several blocks in the city center, incorporating an indoor soccer arena, a church, a music event center, affordable housing units and a pulga—or flea market—among other resources. 

Maldonado’s research process involved significant community engagement. She spoke with business owners, clientele at her mother’s store, pulga vendors and other Rockwood community members to find out “what is missing in the United States that they left behind in their country, and bringing that little piece of home here, because I think everyone deserves a space to be in,” Maldonado said.

M.Arch student Brianna Montes also draws from personal experience in a Mexican-American community to form a thesis project which reimagines the U.S.−Mexico border. 

Montes’ project is located between Brownsville, Texas and Matamoros, Tamaulipas. It is guided by the question, “How can replacing the U.S.-Mexico border with activity notes contribute to the realization of a 15-minute city model and promote transcultural experiences for those living along the border?”

Montes defines activity nodes as public spaces which bring people in, such as playgrounds, libraries, green spaces or even outdoor seating. This thesis project merges the two cities by introducing various activity nodes while ensuring all necessary goods and services are within a 15-minute radius—on foot or bike—at any given point across both cities. 

At the heart of this thesis project is a community hub and shopping center called Mercado Plaza which conjoins the two cities. “This will serve as an open public space for both communities to come together and to begin to strengthen the existing trans-cultural way of living,” Montes said.

This project confronts the physical, social and cultural harm perpetuated by the current functioning of the U.S.−Mexico border. As a native of this region, “home itself is what inspired me to start this thesis,” Montes said.

Huerta and M.Arch student Ethan Goldblatt have collaborated on a joint thesis project which also transforms home—in this case, downtown Portland—into a thriving city center. “I think public space in Portland is just not really as activated and interesting as it could be,” Huerta said, pointing out many vacant buildings, unprogrammed spaces and hostile architecture around the city. 

The site of Huerta and Goldblatt’s thesis project starts from Pioneer Square and leads down SW Yamhill Street to Tom McCall waterfront. The project incorporates a green corridor which would create a covered, walkable path from Pioneer Square to the waterfront. 

The waterfront would be transformed into a beach access point supporting water activities, such as swimming and kayaking. The project includes additional waterfront infrastructure, such as restaurants and cafes, outdoor auditorium-style seating and a water taxi transporting people down and across the river.

The project challenges the notion that the Willamette River is unclean or unsafe. “People have it in their head of it as like an industrial river, but they’ve done a lot to try to [improve that],” Huerta said. “And so swimming is a big part of that… getting people’s toes in the water is a really big thing, to be able to connect to the river and start establishing that space as a swimming space.”

This thesis prioritizes public transportation and walkable spaces over car roadways to build a stronger connection between the city and the river. “We’re looking at the streets becoming a little more of a space for people versus just car space and starting to break down the barrier that is Naito [Parkway],” Huerta said.

Huerta and Goldblatt’s project drew inspiration from their shared experience on a recent travel grant where they studied architecture abroad in Singapore and Taiwan. The duo decided on these destinations in light of the countries’ unique and inverse approaches to urban design.

Huerta explained that Singapore is known for its master city planning, developing the urban landscape with an orientation towards the far future. Meanwhile, in Taiwan there is “a very long history of organic urbanism where things sprout up and emerge and are allowed to be there,” Huerta said.

The research which Huerta and Goldblatt engaged in abroad ultimately carried over into their thesis project. “We’re trying to figure out what of these two different approaches is potentially something that can be drawn on for Portland, or more generally anywhere,” Huerta said.

An open house event displaying the M.Arch student thesis projects will be held on June 13 in Shattuck Hall.

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A rendering of a residential streetscape. Two women with a child are walking away from the viewer towards a covered marketplace in the distance.

2023 Urban Design Thesis Prize: Saad Boujane’s “Dwellings, Paths, Places: Configurative Habitat in Casablanca, Morocco “

by Saad Boujane (MAUD ’23) — Recipient of the Urban Design Thesis Prize. The Modernist…

Peter Rowe , Faculty Advisor

Spring 2023

A tower in a field of flowers at night

2023 Landscape Architecture AP Thesis Prize and 2023 Digital Design Prize: Sonia Sobrino Ralston’s “Uncommon Knowledge: Practices and Protocols for Environmental Information”

by Sonia Sobrino Ralston (MLA I AP ’23) — Recipient of the Landscape Architecture AP…

Rosalea Monacella , Faculty Advisor

A dimly lit room displays

2023 Design Studies Thesis Prize: Alaa Suliman Eltayeb Mohamed Hamid’s Ghostopia: Interrogating Colonial Legacies and A Manifesto for The Modernized Nile

by Alaa Suliman Eltayeb Mohamed Hamid (MDes ’23) — Recipient of the Design Studies Thesis…

Montserrat Bonvehi Rosich, Faculty Advisor


2023 Landscape Architecture Thesis Prize: Kevin Robishaw’s Manatees and Margaritas: Toward a Strange New Paradise

by Kevin Robishaw (MLA I ’23) — Recipient of the Landscape Architecture Thesis Prize.

Craig Douglas , Faculty Advisor

A hero shot with the word “Jua” on a phone mockup to the left, next to a network diagram overlaid on an aerial shot of a farm on the right.

2023 Outstanding Design Engineering Project Award: Rebecca Brand and Caroline Fong’s Jua: Cultivating Digital Knowledge Networks for Smallholder Farmers

by Rebecca Brand (MDE ’23) and…

Jock Herron , Faculty Advisor

Physical Model

2023 James Templeton Kelley Prize: Deok Kyu Chung’s “Boundaries of Everyday: walls to voids, voids to solids, solids to walls”

by Deok Kyu Chung (MArch II ’23) — Recipient of the James Templeton Kelley Prize,…

Lyndon Neri and Rossana Hu, Faculty Advisors

Four stills from a video, where the narrator is flipping and pointing at images on a printed book of Act 1 and Act 2. The images on the page are the cover of the book, the Oak Alley Plantation house, lost enslaved landscapes such as the swamp, ditch, and plot, and the webpage of Oak Alley taken from The Cultural Landscape Foundation’s website.

2023 Landscape Architecture AP Thesis Prize: Celina Abba and Enrique Cavelier’s Plantation Futures: Foregrounding Lost Narratives

by Celina Abba (MLA I AP ’23) and Enrique…

visualization of geometric white clouds on dark purple background

2022 Landscape Architecture Thesis Prize: Liwei Shen’s “The Echoes of Sky River – Two Pre-modern and Modern Atmospheric Assemblages”

by Liwei Shen (MLA I ’22) — Recipient of the Landscape Architecture Thesis Prize. The…

Sergio Lopez-Pineiro, Faculty Advisor

Spring 2022

Black and white photo of wood architectural model shown on angle; structural is one story and long with a moderately sloped roof

2022 James Templeton Kelley Prize: Isaac Henry Pollan’s “This Is Not A Firehouse”

by Isaac Henry Pollan (MArch I ’22) — Recipient of the James Templeton Kelley Prize,…

Sean Canty , Faculty Advisor

Section Perspective

2022 Clifford Wong Prize in Housing Design: Brian Lee’s “People’s Park Complex: Repairing the Modern City”

by Brian Lee (MArch ’22) — Recipient of the 2021 Clifford Wong Prize in…

Grace La and Jenny French , Faculty Advisors

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Purdue University Graduate School


Convolutional neural networks (CNNs) have become important workloads due to their impressive accuracy in tasks like image classification and recognition. Convolution operations are compute intensive, and this cost profoundly increases with newer and better CNN models. However, convolutions come with characteristics such as sparsity which can be exploited. In this dissertation, we propose three different works to capture sparsity for faster performance and reduced energy. 

The first work is an accelerator design called SparTen for improving two- sided sparsity (i.e, sparsity in both filters and feature maps) convolutions with fine-grained sparsity. SparTen identifies efficient inner join as the key primitive for hardware acceleration of sparse convolution. In addition, SparTen proposes load balancing schemes for higher compute unit utilization. SparTen performs 4.7x, 1.8x and 3x better than dense architecture, one-sided architecture and SCNN, the previous state of the art accelerator. The second work BARISTA scales up SparTen (and SparTen like proposals) to large-scale implementation with as many compute units as recent dense accelerators (e.g., Googles Tensor processing unit) to achieve full speedups afforded by sparsity. However at such large scales, buffering, on-chip bandwidth, and compute utilization are highly intertwined where optimizing for one factor strains another and may invalidate some optimizations proposed in small-scale implementations. BARISTA proposes novel techniques to balance the three factors in large- scale accelerators. BARISTA performs 5.4x, 2.2x, 1.7x and 2.5x better than dense, one- sided, naively scaled two-sided and an iso-area two-sided architecture, respectively. The last work, EUREKA builds an efficient tensor core to execute dense, structured and unstructured sparsity with losing efficiency. EUREKA achieves this by proposing novel techniques to improve compute utilization by slightly tweaking operand stationarity. EUREKA achieves a speedup of 5x, 2.5x, along with 3.2x and 1.7x energy reductions over Dense and structured sparse execution respectively. EUREKA only incurs area and power overheads of 6% and 11.5%, respectively, over Ampere


1405939-cns, degree type.

  • Doctor of Philosophy
  • Electrical and Computer Engineering

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Advisor/supervisor/committee co-chair, additional committee member 2, additional committee member 3, additional committee member 4, usage metrics.

  • Digital processor architectures
  • Electronic device and system performance evaluation, testing and simulation
  • Electronics, sensors and digital hardware not elsewhere classified
  • High performance computing
  • Energy-efficient computing




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    SparTen identifies efficient inner join as the key primitive for hardware acceleration. of sparse convolution. In addition, SparTen proposes load balancing schemes for higher. compute unit utilization. SparTen performs 4.7x, 1.8x and 3x better than dense architecture, one-sided architecture and SCNN, the previous state of the art accelerator.