1. Description of the course 1.1 Code: AS050 1.2 Type of course: Mandatory 1.3 Teaching: biannual course 1.4 ECTS credits: 6 1.5 Lecturer: Leandro Madrazo 1.6 Language: Catalan/Spanish/ English Systems of Representation (in Spanish, SDR: Sistemas de Representación) ( is a multidisciplinary and open learning space where various fields and matters become interrelated: architecture and art, aesthetics and composition, visual communication and graphic design, film and photography. These different subjects come into relation through the learning activities that are carried out with a diversity of media (texts, publications, drawings, models, photographs and videos) using analogue and digital representation techniques. Students are actively involved in creating learning resources through the activities that are carried out during the course. These resources are managed through a learning platform SDR: NET, specifically developed for this course. The aim of this course is to promote and develop in students, the capabilities to represent and communicate the creative processes related to the conception of form and space, in line with contemporary ways of thinking and using the media and the techniques of our time.
Type Subject
Tercer - Obligatoria

Titular Professors

ARC Responsible Research Group
Previous Knowledge

2. Prerequisites

To have successfully passed the previous courses: Computer tools I (AR001), and Drawing techniques (AR008).

Basic knowledge of history of art and architecture; ability for graphic expression with traditional media (drawing, models) and digital techniques (CAD); ability for visual and writing thinking and writing; proficiency in the use of standard software (Word, Internet, Photoshop).


3. Skills that the course aims at developing

a. Specific competences (knowledge and skills)

The course helps students acquire basic knowledge in their training as architects, in particular obtaining:

- an understanding about some fundamental issues in architecture and design -function, form, space, technology, materiality, and process- gained through a process of reflection upon their own work.
- an understanding of creative processes through the practice of design thinking, enabling the student to formulate and solve a problem independently, being aware of what and how the student is learning.
- an ability to integrate different techniques and tools -digital and analogue- in the processes of creation and communication.

b. Transversal skills.

- Ability for analysis and synthesis
- Basic general knowledge about the area of study
-Basic knowledge of the profession
- Oral and written communication skills in the native language
- Oral and written communication skills in the English language
- Basic computer skills
- Ability for the management of information (to look for and analyse information from different sources)
- Basic and essential knowledge of the training field

- Capacity of critical awareness and self-criticism
- Ability to work in a team
- Ability to communicate with non-experts in the field
- Value of diversity and multiculturalism
- Ability to work in an international context

- Ability to apply knowledge into practice
- Research skills
- Learning ability
- Ability to adapt to new situations
- Ability to generate new ideas (creativity)
- Ability to work independently
- Initiative and entrepreneurship
- Ability to excel
- Motivation to take on new challenges

4. Learning objectives of the course

1. Understanding of the interrelationships between architecture, art, design, communication and the media in the contemporary world

2. Acquiring the ability to integrate knowledge from various fields and disciplines in the processes of creation and thinking

3. Contributing to form a broad interdisciplinary knowledge base that is going to be further developed in subsequent courses

4. Exercising the ability of expression and communication of ideas combining traditional and digital media

5. Expressing and communicating ideas and projects effectively, making a consistent use of the information and communication technologies in combination with other techniques

6. Developing the ability to learn and work independently

7. Developing the ability to work creatively, individually and in collaboration, using traditional and digital technologies


5. Thematic blocks of the course

The course embraces two of the six issues that make up the entire course Systems of Representation:

- TEXT. Fundamental principles of modern architecture and art and their relationship with contemporary architecture. Fundamentals of graphic design and typography. Fundamentals of linguistics, semiotics and visual communication. Design of interactive interfaces. Multimedia publishing documents on the web (blogs, digital animations).

- FIGURE. Figuration and abstraction in modern art. Abstract and concrete art. Basics of colour theory. Composition principles of shape and colour. Form generation processes. Psychology of visual perception. Painting and music: synaesthesia.

The remaining four themes - IMAGE, OBJECT, SPACE and LIGHT- are part of the SDR II course.


6. Teaching and learning methodological approach for achieving the objectives

Classes are divided in a theoretical block (3 hours a week) and a practical block (1, 5 hours per week). The theoretical classes are dedicated to present and discuss the interdisciplinary contents and to explain the operation of the computer applications used in the learning activities. In addition, students also do additional exercises outside the classroom.

The adopted pedagogical model follows the constructivist philosophy. According to this philosophy, knowledge is constructed with learning resources jointly provided by students and teachers (resource-based learning), as well as from the experience gained by the students during the fulfilment of the learning activities.

The learning platform SDR: NET, specially developed for this course, is an integral part of the course methodology. The purpose of this on-line learning environment is to contribute to the development of the creative and reflective abilities of the student, in a context of collaboration. In this environment, students have access to the work done by other classmates and can contribute to further develop them. Students can also establish relationships between their work and the one of their peers; they can group the different work of the whole class into categories, commenting and evaluating them.

The course is mostly face-to-face, although the platform SDR: NET enables to carry out tasks outside the classroom. The combination of the in-person activities with the ones held in SDR: NET (blended-learning) is a learning space which integrates various themes and activities and makes the collaboration of teachers and students in the joint processes of knowledge construction possible.

The themes discussed in class are continued in the activities that are carried out in the platform SDR: NET. Students present their work both in class and on the SDR: NET. In this way, they can develop their communication skills, combining personal expression with the use of digital media on the Web.

c. Planned activities:

The type and distribution of activities is as follows:

- FACE-TO-FACE (48%) They include attendance at theoretical and practical classes. The objective of the theoretical classes is to present and discuss the main concepts that students need to know to carry out the exercises. In the practical classes, the operation of the tools, necessary to perform the work, is explained. A review of the on-going student´s work is also carried out in these classes.

- ON-LINE (12%). They encompass completing tasks in the learning environment SDR: NET. The goal is that students contribute to the creation of learning resources, and develop the ability to reflect on the work made by the whole class. The activities on this environment contribute to a better understanding of the work of the whole class, encouraging the development of analytical and critical skills.

- INDEPENDENT STUDY (40%). These are learning activities performed outside the school hours. These activities are conceived as an extension of the lectures, rather than the practical application of them.

Dedication to the course = 6 credits, 26 hours / credit = 156 hours
Dedication in a semester = 16 weeks
Weekly dedication= 156 hours/ 16 weeks = 9,7 hours/week
Concept Total Hours
Exercises in the classroom
Individual study 60

Total dedication 156


Choose the necessary evaluation methods for the maintenance of the code:

D. Homework
G. Computer assignments
H. Projects
I. Oral presentations
J. Classroom participation

Evaluation Criteria

7. Assessing the achievement level of the objectives

The evaluation of the course is continuous along the course. The evaluated work includes the exercises done individually and in collaboration, assistance to the session of individual reviews, and participation in the classes.

1. The student should demonstrate his/her ability to understand the meaning of architecture in the context of a contemporary culture, establishing meaningful relationships with other areas of knowledge.
The ability to understand the work from different disciplines (architecture, graphic design, music) and to integrate them into a new context, in a personal and creative way; is evaluated
2. The student should have acquired the ability to integrate knowledge of the different topics involved in the course.
The level of understanding of the theoretical contents is evaluated through written assignments done in class and in the on-line environment.
3. The student should demonstrate his/her ability of reflecting about his/her own creative process.
The ability of students to express and communicate the creative process while identifying the references that have exerted an influence on their way of thinking, and describing the ways followed to achieve their own objectives, is evaluated.
4. The student should demonstrate his/her ability of expression using traditional media (drawing, models, photography, and video) together with digital media.
The capacity to give form to the proposed ideas and the mastery of the tools, techniques and materials needed to create them, are evaluated.
5. The student should demonstrate the ability to learn and work independently.
The originality of the exercises, the level of demand in the objectives pursued and the ability to overcome difficulties, are evaluated.
6. The student should demonstrate the ability to work collaboratively in a creative manner.
Contributions to the on-line learning environments, both quantitatively (number of contributions) and qualitatively (content, expression), are evaluated.
7. The student should demonstrate the ability to express and communicate ideas and projects effectively through the use of information technology.
The presentations of the exercises in class and on SDR: NET and the student's ability to effectively convey an idea using the most appropriate representation techniques, in a more effective way; are evaluated.
8. The student should demonstrate the ability to actively participate in the reflective processes and debates carried out in digital environments.
The ability to effectively express one´s own ideas is evaluated. The evaluation is based on their rigor and exploitation of the potential of new technologies.

Basic Bibliography

8. Basic information sources and bibliography

Some basic information resources such as the summaries of the topics covered in class and references to on-line documents are available in the environment of SDR: NET (

The basic bibliography on the two themes of the course is the following:

Albers, J., & Weber, N. F. (2013). Interaction of color. Yale University Press.
Arnheim, R. (1974). Art and visual perception: a psychology of the creative eye. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Banham, R. (1960). Theory and design in the first machine age. Cambridge: MIT Press.
Bellantoni, J., Woolman, M. (1999). Type in motion: innovations in digital graphics. New York: Rizzoli.
Bill, M. (1995). Die grafischen Reihen. Stuttgart: Gerd Hatje.
Bohn, W. (1986). The Aesthetics of Visual Poetry, 1914-1928. Cambridge, New York: Cambridge University Press, 1986.
Dennis, E., De Fleur, M. (2010). Understanding Media in the Digital Age. New York: Allyn & Bacon.
Conrads, U. (1971). Programs and manifestoes on 20th-century architecture. Cambridge: MIT Press.
Gage, J. (1999). Color and meaning: Art, science, and symbolism. University of California Press.
De Sausmarez, M. (1995). Basic design. The dynamics of visual form. London: Studio Vista.
Drucker, J. (1995). The alphabetic labyrinth: the letters in history and imagination. New York: Thames and Hudson, 1995.
Golding, J. (1968). Cubism: a history and an analysis. 1907-1914. London: Faber and Faber Ltd.
Gomringer, E. (ed.). (1972). Konkrete Poesie. Stuttgart: Philipp Reclam.
Itten, J., & Birren, F. (1970). The elements of color (Vol. 4). John Wiley & Sons.
Kandinsky, W. (2012). Concerning the spiritual in art. Courier Corporation.
Koolhaas, R., Mau, B. (1995). Small, Medium, Large, Extra-Large. Rotterdam: 010 Publishers.
Küppers, H. (1989). Harmonielehre der Farben: theoretische Grundlagen der Farbgestaltung. DuMont.
Kwastek, K. (2013). Aesthetics of Interaction in Digital Art. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press.
Jaffé, H. L. (1970). De Stijl. London: Thames and Hudson.
Lohse, R. P. (1984). Modulare und Serielle Ordnungen. Zürich: Waser Verlag.
Lupton, E. (2010). Thinking with Type. A Critical Guide for Designers, Writers, Editors, and Students. New York: Princeton Architectural Press.
Maur, K. (1999). The sound of painting: music in modern art. Munich: Prestel.
Murray, J. (2012). Inventing the medium: principles of interaction design as a cultural practice. Cambridge: MIT Press.
Neumeyer, F. (1991). The Artless word: Mies van der Rohe on the building art. Cambridge: MIT Press.
von Goethe, J. W. (1810). Zur Farbenlehre. JG Cotta.
Wittgenstein, L. (1978). Some Remarks on color. GEM Anscombe.

Additional Material