In the lectures, I will argue that the built environment makes up the greatest part of the human
habitat, especially in postindustrial societies such as ours. But we tend to pay scant attention to it in
spite of the major role it plays in our everyday lives. One of the objectives of this course is to
encourage you to be aware of the built environment's relevance to your life. The assumption is that
awareness promotes caring?and caring, in turn, often results in action. I hope that this first
assignment will start you thinking along these lines, and perhaps stimulate you to examine your
own attitudes towards the designed and built spaces in which you live.
Reflect on places and spaces that you are familiar with, whether in your past or in the present.
From the (certainly large) number of such environments, choose three that you feel have drawn
some kind of response from you, have affected you in some way. Perhaps you had a particularly
happy or sad experience there, or you felt attracted or repelled by them. Or you may have wished
for a certain environment to have been (or to be now) interesting or exciting, only to find it boring
and un-involving. Examine which aspects, characteristics, properties, or features of these three
places may have concurred to create whatever impression they did.
1. Write a two-page summary (excluding illustrations) of the thoughts brought about by the process
outlined above. Describe each of the three spaces and the effect(s) they had on you. Because
environments are perceived primarily through our eyes, it's important that you illustrate your
summary with a few images, at least one per space. These will help us to understand your
perceptions?and perhaps also help you to focus on specific aspects of each space. The images can
be drawn or they can be photographs, magazine clippings, postcards, photocopies, etc. The text
must be double spaced and typewritten. On this assignment you will not be graded on drawing
skills. (A poorly executed drawing is OK if it conveys the character of a space; five-year-old
children usually produce crude but very expressive sketches! Even if you can draw only at that
level, don't let it deter you from trying). Neatness and organization do count though, both in the
text and in the arrangement of illustrations on the page. Express yourself and try to put both your
mind and heart in it. Have fun!
Please remember that this course is about the built environment. You want to emphasize the
features, aspects, and characteristics of the environments you are describing, not the activities that
went on in them. For example, if you were impressed by a great show or game you watched in a
certain place, write about the specific aspects or properties of that place, not those of the show or
game. Was there something about the place that enhanced (or detracted from) your enjoyment of
the event? Maybe it was the quality of light, the size of the space, the color and texture of the
finishes, the forms, the particular style of this place? In short, write about those aspects of the
buildings or spaces that made them memorable for you.
Grading Criteria and Points
Does the paper demonstrate an understanding of the assignment? - 30 pts
Does the writing follow a logical organization of introduction, development, and conclusion? - 20 pts
Is the paper clearly written? (Can one readily understand the points you are trying to make?) - 20
Do the images support the points made in writing? - 20
Is the paper free of grammatical and spelling mistakes? - 10