In addition to these key skill sets, the course teaches the basics of prototyping, storytelling, marketing and branding, visual communication, and object design as well as project management and sustainability. Interdisciplinary modules or those offered in cooperation with other Bachelor degree courses complement these basics. Students choose modules that reflect their own major interests; and they further pursue this focus through an internship (work experience).
The course is made up of four module types: Core Module, Exchange Module, and Transfer Module; and, too, the Thesis Module, which comprises the two-part Bachelor thesis comprising a written paper and a practical project.
OVERVIEWS OF THE BACHELOR PROGRAMME SPATIAL DESIGN
The degree course may change slightly, as it is continually under review.
Overview of the Programme
The Core Module comprises key skills set in three fields: Spatial Design, Observation & Analysis and Digital Media Design. Theory, practice and research are taught in parallel so as to highlight productive links between them, and then tested in projects. An internship or exchange semester is an integral part of the course. The Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts has a strong network of partners in industry and the public sector.
Whether it’s office space, a shopping mall, a railway station, museum or theatre stage, space is the medium that students deal with, in theory as well as in practical exercises and projects. However, the focus in Spatial Design is not solely on constructing space in the architectural sense, but rather on users’ experience of existing space: it deals with the perceptions, activities and interactions users may experience within a space or when passing through it. Compiling data of this kind makes it easier to tailor the design of a space to its users and its foreseen function. Spatial Design takes people’s activities, memories and rituals into account, quasi as a fourth dimension; and it accordingly regards space as a medium that can be expanded by narratives or immersive realities (AR/VR). The question of what space actually is and which parameters can be used to design it remains pivotal to the Spatial Design course nonetheless. Therefore, in addition to analysing spatial processes and networks, students address the concrete design of a space and the objects within it – be it in the physical or in the virtual realm.
Students investigate space and the activities and interactions unfolding within it with the aid of the sketch – a simple but effective technique for quickly capturing diverse spatial situations in all their complexity. The sketch is also an effective tool for outlining ideas and concepts and communicating them vividly to others.
The key skill sets acquired in Spatial Design can be applied also in the closely related fields of Observation & Analysis and Digital Media Design.
Observation & Analysis investigates which aspects influence users’ experience of a space, as a basis for concept development. In combination with Digital Media Design, students learn about how digital technologies may support and influence user experiences, or be used to other ends in spatial design.
Observation & Analysis
Students draw on findings gained through observation and analysis to design, for example, visitors’ experience of an interactive museum, or user-friendly services and handling at an airport, or a coherent all-round experience of a tourist attraction in the Swiss Alps. Observation & analysis are vital skills whenever the design of a space is to be based on conclusions drawn from the users’ experience and behaviour as well as from a detailed examination of the existing built environment. Observation is the crucial first step. Students examine in detail how a space functions before, during, and after visitors’ use of it – what we might call the flow of a space – and then document this process by visual means, i.e. using sketches, diagrams, photos or video. The second step is to analyse this documentation. Students consider how they could improve the process or “flow” by redesigning or rearranging spatial elements and their interrelations.
Digital Media Design
How can we use virtual reality to breathe life into museum exhibits? How can we digitally archive exhibition content and make it accessible online, via the Internet? Can a business meeting take place in a virtual space? And what might that space look like? Digital media can support and possibly enhance our experience of a space or – in the case of virtual or augmented reality – may actually be the main experience! Using various media such as image, video, animation and sound in combination with interactive digital systems, students learn to develop concepts for immersive experiences of space. The course imparts practical knowledge of interactive screens and blue screen technology, of virtual and augmented reality, and of how sensors, QR codes or beacons can be used to identify users in a space in order then to support and customise their experiences. In practical projects, students realise their concept as an elementary digital prototype that can be trialled and tested.
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The Exchange Module comprises courses that supplement the key skill sets imparted in the Specialism Module with further specialist knowledge and skills. These courses are offered within Spatial Design, but are open to students of other disciplines, too. Likewise, students of Spatial Design can choose courses offered in other fields of study: IDA modules, for example, or the multidisciplinary project carried out jointly with the Bachelor’s in Object Design or Textile Design.
Prototyping involves building a prototype (i.e. a scale model) that simulates certain processes and experiences – and the prototype is then tested, to see whether it delivers to the user the desired effects or results. Prototypes come in all shapes and sizes and a great variety of materials. The crucial first step in making one is always the sketch: this is the quickest and simplest way of communicating an idea. In addition, students learn:
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- to use 3-dimensional models to illustrate initial prototype concepts as well as processes (flows) and spatial relationships
- to use 2-dimensional visuals and photo montages to convey the moods and ambiance of a space
- to use video to communicate processual concepts
- and to use virtual or augmented reality (AR) tools to create realistic immersive environments (i.e. to realistically simulate actual environments.)
Storytelling & Narration
Storytelling skill sets are required when it comes to conveying the content of a space. Such skills are particularly important in the museum and exhibition context, as well as at trade fairs and in shops.
The Spatial Design course teaches basic storytelling strategies as well as potential ways of applying them to a spatial context.
Visual Communications in Space
People orient themselves in space by reading not only architectural clues but also additional visual information in the form of signage, colour coding, pointers, etc. Students learn how visual communications of this sort can be used to clearly indicate the content of a space, including destinations or directions to take (“way-finding”) within it. The spectrum ranges from the simple, two-dimensional information panel, to signage and orientation systems, to typographic elements and symbols that intervene in and define a space.
Object & Space
Objects in a space may be there to play different roles. Potential uses of the objects are designed at best with the space in mind, so that the object and the space work together as a single well-designed functional entity. The course offers insights into how objects can support the functions of a space, contribute to the users’ experience, or even create experiences themselves. A multidisciplinary project carried out jointly with the Bachelor’s in Object Design or Textile Design teaches students’ how to think and work in terms of synergies.
Marketing & Branding
Students of Spatial Design learn how brands can be made palpable in space – for example, in shops, shopping centres or trade fairs – as well as how target groups interact with a space, how space specifies communicative zones, and which of these inform or orientate the users, or provoke interaction.
Which timeframes are required for various phases of the design process in different projects? How do we estimate the cost of a project? And what does our own input cost? The focus in Spatial Design is never solely on the functional or aesthetic factors in a project, but also on costs, deadlines, client satisfaction, and negotiations with the partners and companies commissioned to implement it. These factors are often crucial to a project’s success. The Spatial Design course therefore hones students’ awareness of them.
IDA (Interdisciplinarity in Design and Arts) Modules in the IDA program enables students to broaden their personal horizons and design approach by gaining knowledge of methods “outside the box” of their own Specialism Module. An international and interdisciplinary team of lecturers is on hand to inspire and support them.
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The Transfer Module covers issues of general relevance to academic study and professional practice, such as research methods, essay writing, project layout and presentation, business planning, language skills, and sustainability. Students here acquire:
- solid skills that enable them to think creatively “outside the box” of their own Specialism, Module, and to clearly express their ideas and insights
- the basics tools of photography and desktop publishing
- presentation training, so they can put across themselves and their ideas with confidence.
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The Spatial Design course concludes with a Bachelor's thesis comprised of a theoretical (written) paper and a practical project. Students usually choose the topic themselves, ideally in cooperation with an organisation in industry or the public sector.
For the Bachelor project, students realise a complex design and thereby demonstrate the entire design process, from initial inception of the model/prototype to its construction and testing. Mentors support and advise them throughout. Projects are presented to the jury and the public at the end-of-year degree show.
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