CEx18: A collaborative exercise for architecture students

Students and professors in the department of architectural science gather in the Paul H. Cocker Architecture Gallery at the opening of the CEx18 DWELL exhibit. All images by Arash Ghafoori.

While most Ryerson students were beginning their winter semester, I was wrapping up my first week with the opening of the CEx18 DWELL exhibit. CEx18, or Collaborative Exercise, is a four-day mandatory course for all undergraduate students in architectural science, where we are put into groups with students of all four years. It was four intensive days of a design charrette that were then followed by the awards announcement and the opening of the exhibit in the Paul H. Cocker Architecture Gallery.


Students in the CADlab rush to finish and submit their group’s project right before the deadline.

Divided into groups of 30, 450 students were assigned a site, and each group had to propose a design for affordable student housing on the Ryerson campus. Each year, the course objective changes to address current issues at Ryerson. It’s a great opportunity to meet upper-year students and make connections within the program. The project must be completed within a very short time, and we have the opportunity to exercise project management and teamwork skills.

My group and I brainstormed general ideas on the first day of the exercise and discussed who we wanted to target with our design. Since we were assigned the site of Kerr Hall South-East, we immediately thought of connecting our design to the Rogers Communications Centre (RCC) and Kerr Hall bridge. We decided that our main target audience for the residence would be students enrolled in the Image Arts, film, RTA, contemporary arts, and journalism programs. Due to the large commuter population at Ryerson, a portion of the building would also be dedicated to providing commuter students with comfortable overnight rooms.


My initial designs from the first and second day of our group meetings.


During our initial planning phase, I drew some possible designs of a building on the roof of Kerr Hall that could be built without disturbing the existing structure. One iteration proposed a design with a glass-enclosed entrance on Church Street.

On the third and fourth day, my group split up tasks and we started working on the final production of the design. I picked the task of creating the physical model since I love cutting and creating models. Over those two days, I worked with other group members and even stayed late with one other teammate to add the finishing touches on the model for the deadline on Friday morning.


The large 1:150 model of the Ryerson campus, completed with a model from each group, giving the projects a greater sense of reality and demonstrating the understanding of context.


The exhibit opened on Friday, Jan. 12, and professor Cheryl Atkinson, the instructor of the course, gave a speech congratulating students on their achievements and awarded the winning teams. These were selected by a jury of faculty members in the department of architectural science. My group was awarded best presentation. The award really made all the hard work worth it, and it felt great to receive the recognition.

Overall, this collaborative exercise was incredibly insightful and I am looking forward to another enriching collaborative exercise in the upcoming year.

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