American University of Beirut

Space Design Sprint: Transforming MSFEA spaces through interdisciplinary student collaboration

​​​​​​​​Students from all MSFEA departments kick-started the new year by participating in the Winter '22 Space Design Sprint. They had 72 hours to propose designs transforming one of two central spaces of MSFEA: the entire 6th floor of the Irani-Oxy Engineering Complex (IOEC), and the spaces managed by the Interdisciplinary Design Practice Program (IDPP), comprising the classroom at IOEC 225 and the IDPP Headquarters (HQ) in Bechtel.

The Space Design Sprint competition was put in place in order to introduce an interdepartmental and participatory approach to MSFEA's long-term vision of optimizing key campus spaces. Its aim was to give students the power to transform spaces used primarily by students, thus fulfilling IDPP's core value of user-centeredness.

The competition was launched on Tuesday, January 11 by the IDPP team and Dr. Aram Yeretzian, professor of architecture at MSFEA. Central to this competition were the notions of interdisciplinarity and human-centered design. Participating students were required to reimage the space of their choice in teams from different departments (engineering, architecture, and graphic design), in order to reshape the way in which the MSFEA community – namely, the student body – interacts with these facilities. The brief emphasized the importance of creativity and collaboration in identifying and responding to the needs of the common users of these spaces.

The launch event was followed by a team formation activity in the format of a casual dinner between colleagues. Students had the time to connect with peers who would then become their team-mates. Six teams were formed in total:

  • Team 006: Aya Yousef, Farid Eid El Beyrouthy, Fatima Abu Al Nasr, Jihad Jundi, Mohamed Khoudari

  • Team ArchiTech: Daniel Abu Jawdeh, Hussein Takach, Mohamad Jaroudi, Rana Chams Bacha, Rowana Ma​ged

  • Team Fantastic Four: Glory Nasr, Lili Rayes, Zein Zebib, Zeina Medlej

  • Team Fix-It Felix: Ghida Zaatari, Yara Al Maamari, Zeina Shatila, Chloe Hayek, Chrystel

  • Team Handy Manny: Aya Sabe Ayoun, Dima Hijazi, Mariam El Madhoun, Samer Shammaa, Elie Dib

  • Team Catan: Mohammad Youssef Succar, Omar Shaaban, Raymond Sakr

  • Team Space P: Assil Koubeissy, Christofer Klink , Karl Nakad

Omar Shaaban from team Catan mentioned "I had a wonderful experience in the design sprint. I worked in a team of 2 mechanical engineers and 1 computer engineer, so we had little to no prior experience in design, but we made do. I learned during the presentations about different perspectives the other groups presented."

Three days later, the six teams presented their designs to the IDPP, Dr. Yeretzian, their colleagues, and an interdisciplinary panel of judges composed of professors Carla Aramouny (architecture), Ahmad Gharbieh (graphic design), and Mayssa Dabaghi (civil engineering).​

The six submissions were evaluated based on the criteria of creativity, functionality, and flow of the design across the different parts of their respective spaces. Each team exceeded the jury's expectations, especially given the strict time constraint and many students' limited knowledge of design tools and principles. After a lengthy process of deliberation, the winners of the competition were announced on Thursday, January 20. One winning team was selected for each space: Fantastic Four for the IDPP spaces, and ArchiTech for the IOEC 6th floor, whose designs were distinguished by a unique visual identity and remarkable interdisciplinary thought. "We all had a fun time learning and collaborating in this design sprint and made new friends," said Mohamad Jaroudi, a member of the winning team, ArchiTech.

The event wasn't only educational and competitive for the students, but it was also a joyful experience for them. "This [was an] amazing opportunity to work and meet up with other engineering students to produce brilliant work in a short period of time," said Aya Youssef from team 006.​ This event allowed contestants to make new acquaintances from various departments and broaden their horizons. Members of several MSFEA departments had to be included in the teams. This condition allowed the students to obtain a broader perspective and introduced them to new concepts, skills, and creative tools.​ Mariam El Madhoun from the Handy Manny team explained how this experience helped her gain more acquaintances from different MSFEA departments, and how she became a better team player. "Throughout the 3 days allocated for the sprint, I expanded my knowledge and had a hands-on experience in interdisciplinary and collaborative work between engineers, architects and graphic designers which made me discover new design tools (software, programs…), apply my knowledge in engineering and design as well as strengthen my teamwork skills."

"The Space Design Sprint was an eye-opening experience where I got to see how engineers collaborate to come up with new ideas and designs," Aya Sabe Aoun stated. "I was introduced to several new concepts and perspectives by my fellow colleagues who were from different majors. It was really fun to work with different majors and get to know how each major tackles a certain issue that helps bring the final design to life."​

Currently, members from the winning teams as well as other participants are working on taking their designs from concepts to reality. They will get to refine the product of the 72-hour sprint with feedback from the jury members, guidance from Dr. Yeretzian, and support from the IDPP. The Space Design Team hopes to transform the IDPP HQ, IOECE 225 classrooms, and IOEC 6th floor hallways and balconies throughout the Spring 2021-2022 semester.

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