path in Kyoto - photo by nyc
University of Oregon - Department of Architecture - ARCH 424/524 Cheng - Advanced Design Development Media

Communicating a Sense of Place


Prof. Nancy Cheng, 204 Pacific Hall, tel: 346-3674

UH 9:30-10:50, 013B Klamath Hall, 3 credits, enrollment limited to 20

Graduate Assistants:

Seishi Unuma, Scott Passman


Arch 423/523 (or equivalent)

Course Description

How can we convey the special qualities of a specific place? As communication tools multiply, the world gets to be a smaller place. These new linkages allow us to directly connect with the places that we are studying, the clients we serve and the most expert specialists. While a potential exists for homogenization through technology, there also exists the possibility of sharing and celebrating the unique local character of a place. While the possibility of armchair travel has long existed in literature, film and television, the emerging palette of digital tools allows us to find new ways to bring a place alive to outsiders.

This class is based on the idea that people in each location around the world can play a role in disseminating the qualities, values and spaces that make it special. Capturing a place in digital media means that feelings, perceptions and memories can be combined with physical information to provide a accessible interpretive presentation. We will investigate how tools such as image processing, 3D modelling and Web authoring techniques can be used to express the essence of a place.

Course Objectives

  • To become facile with communicating architectural ideas with new media.
  • To closely examine what makes a place special and how to capture it.
  • To become resourceful in finding and using computer tools.

Course Requirements

The class will combine lectures about architectural representation with computer media demonstrations, work sessions, reviews and discussions. In short exercises, students will portray a specific place using a variety of methods. These efforts will be condensed into a coherent final summary readable on the World Wide Web. Students can propose to portray unbuilt architectural designs of their own or others' designs, places from literature, existing places from a hometown, or a special journey, or a compelling culture. Direct contact with through telecommunication links to actual residents, sources and specialists will be encouraged .

The course requires class participation, completion of reading assignments, and submission of weekly and bi-weekly assignments utilizing specific techniques for describing a place. These will be compiled into a digital portfolio at the end of the term.

Course Evaluation

  • 20% Class participation
  • 50% Exercises
  • 30% Final digital portfolio

Required Texts & Tools

  • William J. Mitchell, Digital Design Media
  • Glenn Goldman, Architectural Graphics: Traditional and Digital
  • Readings placed on reserve
  • Assignments will require the use of Adobe Photoshop, Autodessys FormZ, and shareware such as PageSpinner which will be available at the Klamath and Millrace Labs. Those taking the class may order a temporary educational license for FormZ by contacting the instructor.

Course information will be posted on the World Wide Web at

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edited Jan 5, 1996 by nywcheng