Knowledge Hub

Academic papers submitted by degree course leaders relevant to the wider interior design student community.

ScotlandSystems to Recycle Buildings & The Interdisciplinary Nature of Interior Architecture

The intention of this paper is to highlight the environmental merits of recycling buildings, to present methods [or systems] developed to tackle this form of environmentally sensitive construction and to discuss the potential advantages of an interdisciplinary design and construction Pedagogy… read more

Can Modernism and Post-Modernism be Scottish? Were 20th Century architects in Scotland able to naturalise their buildings to the Scottish scene, and, if so, how?

The distinctive characteristics of any national style of architecture depend in part upon endowed geographical factors and in part upon the circumstances of political and economic history. Scotland’s geographical endowment, in comparison with that of many other western European countries, is a markedly unfavourable one. Small in size and remote in situation, saddled with difficult terrain and harsh climate, the country cannot be said to present many natural advantages for pursuit of architecture”… read more

History and Theory

There is a fine balance between architecture and humanity. The buildings we design directly influence the way in which we live our lives, they direct and manipulate the way in which we engage with our social values, educational, commercial and spiritual needs, even our appreciation of the arts. This means the balance between society and architecture is in a constant state of flux, buildings and people evolve repeatedly, new buildings are built to facilitate our social development but more often than not, it is the existing buildings which are re-shaped… read more

World Heritage – West Bank Wall

This document proposes the West Bank Wall separating Israel from Palestine be listed as a World Heritage site. This important site has huge cultural significance internationally and is a key iconic structure which highlights the struggle between cultures and religious beliefs. The West Bank is nodifferent from the other walls in our history which have divided people and fuelled conflict and oppression… read more


“Only a fool will build in defiance of the past. What is new and significant always must be grafted to old roots, the truly vital roots that are chosen with great care from the ones that merely survive. And what a delicate process it is to distinguish radical vitality from the wastes of mere survival, but that is the only way to achieve progress instead of disaster.” [Bartok, 1962 page xvii]… read more

An Interior Architecture Course in Summary

Author: Frazer Macdonald Hay

1st Year

Visual communication is an integral part of Interior Architecture. From the first week in 1st year to the last in 4th year students are encouraged to practice and develop sketch and rendering skills. These skills will be essential in any future professional communication and the initial exploration of conceptual design ideas. The ability to visually communicate to clients, contractors and the rest of the design team is a key component to a successful project.

In order to create successful Interior Environments it is important to have a clear understanding of the existing structural envelope and the effect that any potential architectural intervention will have upon it.

By using scale models to test and explore their designs 1st year students begin to engage with the complicated process of three dimensional designing. The modelling process is an important step to developing spatial awareness.

In the 1st year of the Interior Architecture course the students are part of an interdisciplinary year. The combination of the Consumer Product Design [CPD], Design Futures and the Interior Architecture programmes creates an interesting mix of design cultures.

The interdisciplinary year promotes a broad and diverse introduction to a variety of design philosophies, practice and presentation skills.

The 1st year creates an exciting environment of expression and collaboration whilst engaging with the core elements of design.

Interior Architecture is the spatial manipulation of an existing building whilst engaging with its structural DNA, history, context, orientation and proposed programme. There are a number of architectural approaches and a variety of skills to facilitate these structural & spatial manipulations, which are taught during the student’s four years at Napier University. The 1st year involves a variety of projects that are designed to introduce the students to a range of fundamental design skills and presentation techniques whilst exploring form and space. . .

2nd Year

2nd year Interior Architecture involves a number of projects dealing with public and private spaces, which range from single space dwelling projects to complicated multi-level restaurant / bar projects. The projects are split into 4 submissions which reflect professional practice; site and building analysis, concept, scheme design and the final design submission. The second year also involves the introduction to computer aided design [CAD], an essential element of contemporary architectural communication.

CAD [computer aided design]

Construction in the new digital era is an exciting process where a balance between utility and the designer’s philosophy can be achieved.

Due to the evolution of computers and in particular 3d modelling, architecture has been revolutionised in terms of its exploration of an architectural philosophy and the resulting aesthetic. In an environment where all seems possible, the designer can digitally create all manner of forms and experimental structures whilst exploring the latest materials and technology. The Interior architecture requires the same degree of design intent and exploration expressed in the creation of the exterior. The students are encouraged to achieve a high level of competence in this key aspect of architectural expression.

Tectonics [the science or practice of building construction]:

Understanding and appreciating the fundamentals of detail design with regard to architecture and interior architecture is paramount. The Key Houses Project develops tectonic awareness. The project requires the student to build and analyse a card scale model of a key house in the development of 20th Century architecture, the objectives are:

  • To become familiar with fundamental structural issues
  • To become familiar with fundamental planning issues: zoning and circulation
  • To become familiar with building services strategies
  • To become familiar with the work of key 20th Century architects
  • To develop skills of reading and comprehending architectural drawings and translating 2-dimensional drawings into 3-dimensional forms.
  • To develop drawing and model making skills
  • To develop critical appraisal skills


The nature of competition is integral to the architectural professions. Architects and designers compete for employment; practices compete for work and status. Therefore it is important to introduce students to the rigors of competition as soon as possible. Napier students have an impressive record of achievement in competitions that start with the annual CSD [The Charted Society of Designers] international student awards. Above is an image of Napier’s CSD winning design 2004, since then second year students have been awarded eleven CSD awards.

3rd Year

3rd year Interior Architecture involves a variety of projects relating to a wide range of subject areas from Commercial [retail, leisure and offices] to the Arts [galleries, museums and theatres]. The projects increase in scale and complexity whilst students continue to develop in regards to their analytical skills, tectonic abilities, CAD, and presentation techniques.

Tectonics [the science or practice of building construction]:

Understanding and Appreciating the fundamentals of detail design in regards Architecture and Interior Architecture is paramount to a successful project solution, it is not until the architectural elements are brought together through sensitive detailing [junctions and service Interfaces for example] that a space becomes wholly believable and creditable.
All the Architectural greats (Past and Present) understood the importance of quality detailing.
It is clear therefore that a fundamental grasp of materials, connection techniques, lighting, specification methods, service interface & finishes contribute to the success of an Interior project.


The 3rd year students are encouraged to enter the annual D&AD Global student awards which reward outstanding creativity, mould breaking thinking and the highest standard of design and innovation. The purpose of the D&AD is to highlight the best emerging talent within Design.

Napier’s Interior Architecture students have achieved an unprecedented variety of D&AD awards in ever year of entry as well as winning the “Environmental Design” award in 2005.

– Presentation

Presentation techniques and style are explored and tested throughout the student’s four years at Napier University.
Bringing a project’s presentation together in a structured and clear manner using the latest 3dimentional digital modelling software can create a realistic visual representation of the proposed solution.
When combined with orthogonal drawings, sketches physical models and precedent studies the overall presentation becomes complete and successfully clear.

4th year

4th year Interior Architecture involves the culmination of methods, techniques and skills learnt over the last three years which are seamlessly woven together to produce the final project which could address a variety of themes from Commercial [e.g. retail, leisure and offices], Social [e.g. schools, hospitals, libraries ..] or the Arts [galleries, museums and theatres].

The Final Project therefore becomes a vehicle from which to showcase al the key elements required to create a successful Interior Architectural solution to a project brief.

The crowning glory to an extensive and varied portfolio of student work, the content of which indicates the confidence, capability and drive required to embrace professional practice.

– Concept

The Concept sketch consolidates and communicates the designers intentions, aspirations and exploration in regards the Brief, Site and many other facets of creative thought such as form, function and of course, design / architectural theories

The forth year student’s ability to communicate a concept quickly and clearly comes from the confidence and an architectural vocabulary which has built up over the past few year.

– Lighting

Lighting plays an integral role in creating successful interior environments, capable of separating areas, suggesting circulation, manipulating mood and creating atmosphere within a space.
The correct use of light is a complicated process not only in managing the desired effect but also the detailing issues regarding location, fixings and the painstaking practicalities of managing such things as conduit and transformer locations.
Natural light has got to be one of the most important elements of an interior environment and requires a serious level of engagement from the earliest stages of the project’s design process
In many cases the success of an interior relies on the clever and sensitive use of light both artificial and natural.


The 4th year students are encouraged to enter the annual RSA [The Royal Society for the encouragement of the Arts] competition.
The RSA’s prime objective is to promote student engagement with social, cultural and ethical issues. A student award programme, Design Directions uses the manifesto challenges to inform a series of research-based briefs that enable emerging young designers to challenge accepted thinking through innovative design practice.
4th year students, Kim Robinson have won the “RSA Adapt Trust Award for the Inclusive World” award in 2006 and Lorna Cochran & Linzi Deprez the “RSA dott07 award for Sustainable Tourism”.