The first in a series of graduate-level studios looking at the role of narrative in architecture, Graphic Novels/Novel Architecture examined graphic storytelling in architectural design and presentation, including comic strips, animation, storyboards, and graphic narratives.

“It’s nice to see people work with the entire board, instead of creating fragments of the boards where you place plans or sections. There’s a comprehensive effort to design a communication.” —Juror Jimenez Lai

Over five two-week workshops, the students explored examples of these narratives, from the storyboards of Le Corbusier to the archi-comics of Bjarke Ingels and Jimenez Lai. Each student also developed their own three-panel, 24-by-24-inch comics using techniques like manual printmaking, photo collage, laser cutting, and 3D printing, and revised them over the five workshops based on input from visiting artists and design professionals. Aside from getting students to think critically about their projects, associate professor Jon Yoder, AIA, says the revision process also forced the students to refine their ideas and presentations—good training for their careers.

While future studios will look at video games, text-based books, and film, Yoder says he chose to start with the graphic novel because of the growing importance of images and graphic art in architecture—not just in depicting buildings, but explaining them through visual narratives. The graphic novel form, he explains, allowed students to explore themes that usually get sidelined in architectural imagery, like the political and social implications of design. “The image has never had a more prominent place in architecture than it does right now,” he says.

Student Work

The Stuff by Zachary Kupniewski

Now that You Know by Timothy Ong

The Academy by James Skimin

James Skimin

The Utopian Noir by Eleanor Hertzfeld

Eleanor Hertzfeld

Untitled by Abby Baker

Project Credits
Course: Graphic Novels/Novel Architecture
School: Kent State University, College of Architecture & Environmental Design
Level: M.Arch., without preprofessional degree (year one)
Duration: Spring 2016 semester (10-week studio)
Instructor: Jon Yoder, AIA (associate professor)
Students: Abby Baker, Ellie Hertzfeld, Zak Kupniewski, Timothy Ong, James Skimin (submitted projects); Leandra Buchin, Matt Fisher, Saloomeh Gharehgozlou, Pamela Haberman, Danielle Jones, Kyle Matheny, Adam Prtenjak
Workshop Leaders: Richard Buday, FAIA; Jordan Charles; Christopher Darling; Chad Lewis; Nick Sousanis

Read about the other 2016 Studio Prize winners.