What is Architectural Thesis?
An Architectural thesis is about presenting ideas, research, and findings for an academic degree by candidature, combining their entire learning in the last five years that they learned in different semesters from the first day to the last semester— looking at and formulating it so that to can convert into a project.
What defines a good thesis?
A good thesis is usually issue-based. As Architect, whatever we do is for the built environment. So what comprises the built environment is known by us like typology of structures, building uses, forms, shapes, etc. Now ask a question, what is the problem with the built environment. Maybe a problem with the Social aspect, Physical aspects, Infrastructure, or health. So these are some of the problems, but these are also broad.
We have some categorization of the building in building in the built environment. Residential, Commercial, Institutional, Healthcare/Medical, Heritage/Old areas, etc. Residential can be categorized as old or new, Institutional as Public, Semi-Public, or Private.
We can see some of the problems are common in all of the categories. Let’s say; Residential areas can have a Social, Infrastructure, or healthcare problem. The social problem there could be a problem in the Community, Age, Crime, etc. So these are the broad things and need to be focused upon.
Our thesis is partly Research and partly Design. In research, we try to understand- what is the problem? And what are the ways of dealing with the problem? Now this research can be translated into Design.
Selection of Thesis topic
Narrow down the Selection
First, look at the Broader categories (as specified in the previous section), which you are interested in. Let’s say Residential. Under Residential, we have Gated communities, Group housings, Independent housings, Slum settlements, Service apartments, Redevelopment of old areas, etc. So, although our interest is Residential buildings, within which we have multiple categories to work on. Similarly, under the Healthcare category, we see hospitals, clinic, Blood banks, Diabetes education centers, Imaging and radiology centers, Mental health and addiction treatment centers, Orthopedic and other rehabilitation centers, Nursing homes etc., under which let’s choose hospital. Hospitals can further be divided into different categories, such as Cancer, Eye, Dental etc.,
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Now for Cancer specialty hospital, look for the unique aspect. Here we do research on existing Cancer specialty hospitals and identify the problems present in it in terms of Design. Maybe research on Space typology, functionality. So, up to now, you would be having a flowchart list like this:
Healthcare- Hospital- Cancer specialty -Space Functionality- Evolving new space typology for Cancer specialty hospitals.
So, this is a way of formulating a Research topic or Thesis topic. It is not a Project. In the thesis, we try to formulate our project by identifying the issues, doing research, Site selection, correlating research, and coming up with a Design. The major part will be ‘research.’
How to find an existing issue?
Finding a problem could be difficult, especially if you have a little knowledge about the field you want to work on, let’s say a Hospital. Although it can be found through extensive research, you can also check the competitions. Competitions usually focus on the issues and ask participants who come up with various solutions. You can find various competitions ongoing on different sites. One of the sites is Arch daily, which provides ongoing competitions which you can find here.
Another way of finding a problem is to read about Architectural issues in terms of spaces, material, climate-related, vernacular, etc. You can search for the problems the country’s hospitals face and whether it can be solved through Design and its elements.
You can look for the future scope of Architecture. To do that, think about what the world would look like after 10,20 or 50 years from now. For example, Covid-19 has changed the functioning of various commercial and institutional companies and organizations. Many of them started ‘work from home’ for their employees. Also, will the future of Education be an Online medium? If yes, then how those existing buildings can be utilized. If we go more further and consider AI or Robots be the future, what problems may arise at that time? Will they require any particular type of space for their manufacturing or training?
News can be another way of finding a topic. For example- the Government has levied a certain amount of taxes which gives foreign investors the to set up their factories in our country, OR the Government has introduced a scheme to promote Tourism and generate more revenue by attracting more number of tourists; thus, restoration and preservation of Heritage buildings will commence.
These were some of the ways to select an Architectural thesis topic. If you want to share some of your ideas, feel free to comment below.