This is the final, year-long, design project in the course, and before registering as architects (after Part 3 in the UK). In it you demonstrate your ability to integrate the broad range of knowledge and skills required to imaginatively design a complex building project. It forms the principal content of your portfolio.
The CDT is an integrated design project in which you comprehensively research and design a building project. You propose a brief and site and show evidence of your research that led you to the project type and location by undertaking an in-depth study of site, client/user, planning context, social context, climate, new technologies, new live issues needing research etc, and of precedents related to programme and site. The guidelines are highly flexible, allowing maximum choice from refurbishment to master planning, but ensuring that the RIBA/ARB Criteria are addressed, and employability interests met.
The design process reflects real-world practice by following the RIBA Plan of Work. Submissions include a full planning application and attendant information, partial detailed structural, environmental and constructional design, and final high-level presentation of the completed project. This is accompanied by a reflective report on the process in which evidence of research study around the subject area for each of the stages is shown, as well as a commentary on how the new and experimental proposals address live issues. Together, the design proposal and the reflective report, as well as the Dissertation, form a research thesis, which, possibly along with your other work on the course, will be arranged for publication as a book. It is intended that not only should this document provide compelling evidence of your employability, but also give you the basis and option for further research leading to PhD and beyond.
To complement your own research, client and user interviews etc, teaching includes representation from industry with masterclasses from leading architectural practitioners and lectures and tutorials by visiting practicing specialist consultants on strategic planning, means of escape, structures, environment and construction, so that you learn how to manipulate these standard relationships in the profession towards enriching your design. Leading architectural practitioners will also be involved in interim and final reviews.