Course Syllabus

Architecture Foundations Studio - SA

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Semester & Location:

Spring 2023 - DIS Copenhagen

Type & Credits:

Core Course - 6 credits

Major Disciplines:

Architecture, Design


One drawing course at university level.

Additional Portfolio Needs: Examples of studio work in a portfolio to be submitted to studio instructor at the beginning of the semester. This will allow the professor to become acquainted with the design skills of each student.


Søren Amsnæs (current students please reach out to faculty via Canvas Inbox)

Time & Place:

Tue and Fri from 13:15-17:00 in studio (V10-A43 Front) - faculty present for three hours during this timeframe.

Faculty issue session specifics in announcements and/or calendar (see below)

Course Description

The Studio is the core course of your studies. Design projects are the basis for learning in the studio and will be the basis for discussions, presentations, and the development of individual design skills. The studios at DIS emphasize awareness and knowledge of designing in a context of site, society, and situation and use Copenhagen as an ‘urban laboratory’ for exploration and precedent study. Project work is done both individually and in teams.  

Learning Objectives Across DIS Design Studio Courses

To enhance the individual student’s:

Design Knowledge:

Building an understanding of the Danish and Scandinavian architecture and design tradition - historic as well as contemporary - through the work on assignments, and the study of precedents and case studies in studio.

Design Experiences:

Exploring Danish architecture and design on field studies and study tours as well as through the exposure to Danish and Scandinavian architecture in studio. 

Design Skills:

Studying and working with Danish and Scandinavian architecture and design methods and philosophies shaped by democratichumanistic, and contextual aspirations

  • Democratic: We believe design matters to society, its well-being and progress, and our common sanity
  • Humanistic: We believe design must care for people, at all levels, in their common and individual everyday, and for the environment as the habitat for human activity
  • Contextual: We believe design connects us to what we share – the common ground, history, identity, and each other.

Learning Objectives Specific to this Course:

The Architecture Foundation Studio serves as an introduction to the discipline of architecture and design in a Scandinavian context.

Students in this course will gain experience and knowledge of architecture and design by;

  • Study and working with basic tools in architecture such as plan, sections and spatial representations to develop architectural understanding and language
  • Study and working with the context to gain an understanding of the values of the location for example daylight, topography, urban context and other site-specific relations
  • Exploring conceptual design development through sketching, model-making, research and observations.
  • Study and working with the detailing and understanding of the value of materials, texture as well as sustainability.
  • Developing student’s individual portfolio by carrying out two design projects in the course of one semester from initial design challenge to finished presentation of design solutions.
  • Strengthening oral presentation skills by presenting finished architectural proposals to professionals from the architectural community in Copenhagen.

In the Architecture Foundation Program there are no expectations to students skills regarding experience with computer program to develop a project.

Focus (and grading) will be based on the grading rubric and in particular on the understanding of concept, context, function, light, scale and to document the process.

During the semester students are challenged to execute the presentation of the projects through analogue processes with hand drawings, model making and light studies.

Students will be introduced to relevant digital programs to be able to communicate spatial and architectural ideas and intentions.

To support an understanding and to develop a language to communicate architectural ideas students will be introduced to a compendium reviewing basic tools and definitions as well as readings regarding basic architecture experiences and observations.


Søren Amsnæs

Architect (Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Copenhagen, 1983). Employment with PLH Architechts, Homann Architects. Since 1988, own office specializing in visualization and project presentation for clients in Denmark and abroad. With DIS since 2012.

Required Reading

Reading material for studio will be distributed by the studio faculty on Canvas.


One drawing course at university level.

Approach to Teaching

Studio instruction is a combination of one-on-one tutoring, discussions, and lectures. The studios are organized as vertical studios, meaning that students of different levels are taught within the same studio. Expectations will relate to each individual student and their respective level of experience.  Studio work will include individual as well as team assignments, both of which are considered important as preparation for later work in the profession. 

Expectations of the Students

Students are required to be fully engaged in the studio discourse, be prepared for each individual desk critique, be present and active in studio Tuesday and Friday throughout the afternoon studio sessions (13:15-17:00), be present and active throughout the presentation and gallery review sessions, and to invest time outside of studio hours developing their projects. If not on field studies in another course, Wednesdays should be used to work on their studio projects as well. Assignment debriefs with faculty will help align the expectations of the student and the professor to guide the rest of the semester.


We request you upload a digital copy of your design portfolio to your Canvas studio page. This will allow your faculty to better understand your background and will make it easier to address your individual progress in your studies in studio. Please within the first week make sure to go to your studio course on Canvas and to Assignments. Portfolio Submission and upload your portfolio.

Core Course Week

The core of your studies in the AD Program at DIS is the studio. The core course week (CCW) is a full week of studies meant to contribute to the advancement of your architectural understanding and your studio work. We do this through a dedicated focus on key themes in Danish architecture and design and the crucial skill of visual note-taking. CCW falls in two interrelated parts:

The first part takes place in Copenhagen, both in class and on field studies. Visits to relevant case studies and exercises in visual note-taking are part of the first days of CCW. The second part takes you on a three-day study tour to Western Denmark. Full-year students go to Berlin.

Field Studies and Study Tours

The field studies and study tours of the Architecture and Design Program (AD) at DIS form an integral part of the learning process. We travel to places to learn through experience and through analysis. We travel to places to understand and ultimately, to become better architects and designers. 

Field Studies

Field studies are excursions to sites within the Copenhagen capital region and are composed of significant, historical sites of design interest as well as contemporary case studies linked to the studio. Field studies take place in connection with studio and at the discretion and choice of the faculty.

Study Tours

Course-integrated, faculty-led study tours are a signature of the DIS curriculum. The AD study tours are constructed around a series of fixed and recurring must-do sites (80% of sites) and new sites and visits that may change from semester to semester (20% of sites). Students travel in groups of 20-24 students, along with a faculty handling the academic visits and a co-leader handling the logistics on the tour.

During Core Course Week a the three-day study tour takes students to both contemporary and historical sites on the island of Fyn and in Jylland.

Later in the semester the week-long study tour will expand students frame of personal experience from Copenhagen to include other countries in Northern Europe.  This is an opportunity to compare what students have studied thus far in Denmark with a larger European context and in turn with previous experiences from students home country.  Visits will include both contemporary and historical sites.

Using a Visual Journal

The very classical way in which architects throughout centuries have kept track of their experiences and learning is something DIS aims to maintain an understanding of among students. We have journal courses, which give students access to ways in which to sketch, note down, annotate and diagram experiences and learning drawn from the study of buildings and places.

On the study tours we have built in sessions where students and tour leaders look at the developing sketchbooks, to share and learn from each other.

Evaluation & Grading

Evaluation is based on daily work in studio and on final presentations. Assignments are generally presented to a panel of jurors including the student’s own instructor. Grades are given by the instructor in accordance with other jurors.

To be eligible for a passing grade, you must complete all of the assigned work.

The final grade is determined as follows:



Assignment 1 - Process


Assignment 1 - Presentation


Assignmeent 2 - Process


Assignment 2 - Presentation


Evaluation Criteria for Assignments

Studio Process - Evaluation in studio is based on the following:

  • Approach: Student is motivated, positive, engaged in the project and in all studio activities, attending and prepared for every session in studio, inquisitive, self-critical, receptive to input from both faculty and fellow students.
  • Production: Student is diligent, productive, continuously engaged in sketching, prototyping, model making, and other forms of physical/digital design development, to support the progress of the project and the dialogue with faculty.
  • Innovation: Student is creative and experimenting, continuously willing to push the project forward, exploring different design opportunities, oriented towards generating unique design solutions.

Note, presence and participation at the introductions to assignments, gallery critiques, and Core Course Week events has an impact on your studio process grade.

 Final Presentation - Evaluation is based on completion of design goals agreed upon by student and studio faculty, and the criteria presented below:

  • Completeness: Student presents the required deliverables - well-crafted drawings, models and other visual presentation material - to convincingly communicate the scope and content of the project in a meaningful and creative manner.
  • Delivery: Student orally presents the project in a well-prepared and organized way, communicating the project intentions in a professional manner and engaging in a receptive and reflective dialogue with critics.
  • Design: Student presents a final product of high artistic quality that convincingly shows a conceptually clear and well-motivated design solution where the elements of the brief have been explored thoroughly and creatively.

Academic Regulations  

DIS - Study Abroad in Scandinavia -

Course Summary:

Date Details Due