How to Read a Room

Bachelor of Architectural Design
Semester 1, 2022

Studio leader(s)

  • Kate Finning
  • Colby Vexler

The history of rooms is written as a succession of styles. However, an alternate reading of architectural history can be told through the plan, particularly of housing, and its evolving representations and modes of use. Here the role of architectural elements such as; walls, windows, doors, and floors seem to be obvious points of discussion, but instead we will broaden our studies to include the ordinary arrangement of things that actually inhabit the room. While a functionalist plan, and its oft mentioned but little understood misnomer “program”, may indicate the services to a room, it is in fact through the loose items within a space that a way of life is revealed. If the reading of an architectural plan is a form of literacy, then a consideration of its loose acts of assemblage and arrangements could be considered a form of reading the lived-reality of the architecture of domestic space.

Through this course students will first be introduced to the history and principles of the functionalist plan and the typical or open plan of housing. Through a series of seminars and analytical drawing tasks students will study and re-evaluate acts of planning within domestic space including the role of furniture, fixtures, fittings, appliances and objects within the room. The unit has the less humble aim of questioning the restrictive logic of the practical in favour of ideas of comfort and use.


  1. The Functionalist Plan
  2. The Typical Plan
  3. The Room Plan
  4. Photographs of Rooms
  5. Furniture, Things and Stuff
  6. Not mess, but careful arrangement


  1. Precedent Plan Study (Traced Plans + 150 words)
  2. Precedent Things Study (Plan, Internal Elevations + 150 words)
  3. A Proposal (Plan, Internal Elevations + 150 words)