Design students rethink doors in spring ’14 design-build project

Ray Holliday

Ray Holliday

One of the most common objects in everyday life, the door, was reimagined by second-year Texas A&M environmental design students in a spring 2014 design-build project.

“We often take for granted the most common elements of design,” said Ray Holliday, assistant professor of practice, who led the studio. “I wanted the students to rethink or rework a simple thing like a door, and ask themselves if a door could be more than a solid panel with a handle.”

Working in six teams of three, students designed and constructed their innovative door concepts, including a door with approximately 20 hinges that swings open in small sections. Another door had no hinges. Its two square sections revealed the pasage by pivoting independently on a long bar while sliding to the left; another team’s door design also eschewed hinges, requiring a push inward reveal the passage.

Instead of doorknobs, the doors featured bars of various sizes, a handle attached to a hook, or in one case, nothing at all — users opened the door by grabbing its edge and pulling the door, which had one long hinge in the middle, to the side.

The doors’ surfaces were anything but solid panels, with irregularly shaped windows, various size panels and decorative circles.

Students spent a week designing the doors, another week detailing construction steps, then two weeks building them at the college woodshop after cutting some of the larger pieces in the Fabrication and Design Lab at Texas A&Ms Riverside campus.

“The designs were great,” said Holliday. “They were very creative and unique.”

The project, said Holliday, was a good way for students to not only come up with a design but determine how to make the design work.

“Some of their ideas just couldn’t be accomplished because of their building skill level or hardware that wasn’t available,” said Holliday.  “They learned that what’s on paper doesn’t always go as planned.”

posted August 11, 2014