The Hunger Games

Presented by: Katherine Swank

I. Introduction The entry level design student struggles with the development of meaningful design concepts. Design precedents integrated within a social justice narrative inspired by entertainment media in popular culture provide a vehicle for developing design concepts that are original, theory driven and comprehensive. This presentation demonstrates the use of contrasting design precedents in studio instruction to symbolize opposing societal ideals. Design concept development is interwoven with a creative storyline that explores issues of social justice. II. Background Architecture represents societal ideals. In the Hunger Games trilogy, classical architecture represents high taste culture for the Capitol of Panem. And in the manner of the Roman empire of classical antiquities, outlying districts are subjugated to the needs of the ruling class in the Capitol. With the uprising of districts against the Capitol, parametric design is proposed as a new architecture for a new regime. The methodology for integrating design precedents in studio instruction was a semester length project assigned to first semester, freshmen students. Students developed a narrative sequel to the Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins. Their storyline included development of 2-D and 3-D compositions that provided opportunity for creative thinking about relations between meaning and design from the vantage point of the societal views portrayed in the story. Students were required to address the following: • Develop three-dimensional study models of the Temple of Saint Peter to explore the formal spatial organization and static classical proportions of Italian Renaissance architecture by Donato Bramante. • Utilizing a manual modeling process with serial planes, employ principles of repetition and progression to transition from geometric to organic planar elements that create three-dimensional forms in the manner of parametricism. • Inspired by the parametric designs of Israeli architect, Zaha Hadid, develop three-dimensional study models of commemorative architecture based on the dynamic spatial organization and proportions that are evident in forces of nature (e.g., tidal movement, plant growth, etc.). An underlying challenge of the studio project was to integrate creative thinking and imagination within a social justice narrative. Students were required to develop design concepts that attributed societal meaning to original 2-D and 3-D compositions. Seminal designs of Donato Bramante’s Renaissance architecture and Zaha Hadid’s parametric architecture provided contrasting approaches to the application of elements and principles of design. Spatial schema were developed contrasting stasis and movement to establish visual tension associated with uprising of districts against the Capitol of Panem. Elements of design were selected in each schematic (i.e., line, shape, light) to achieve a rhythm that represented stages of the rebellion. Established rhythms were utilized as spatial organization, culminating in a design parti for each design composition. III. Conclusion/Implications The use of contrasting design precedents in studio instruction improved integration of design concept development in 2-D and 3-D compositions. Students who developed a design parti integrating opposing forces of classic and parametric architecture achieved a greater sophistication in the sequence of 2-D and 3-D assignments. Integrating an historical precedent approach to design within a storyline grounded concept development in the familiarity of popular entertainment media.


  • 1. Clark, R.H. & Pause, M. (2004). Precedents in Architecture: Formative Ideas, and Partis. NY: Wiley & Sons.
  • 2. Malmar, J. & Vodvarka, F. (1991). The Interior Dimension: A Theoretical Approach to Enclosed Space. NY: Van Nostrand Reinhold.
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