DESIGN BRIEF: SUSTAINABLE AZTEC TURTLE HOUSE DESIGN (DESIGN AND VISUAL COMMUNICATION, FOR 15 & 16-YEAR-OLD GIFTED AND TALENTED STUDENTS ) 

Front cover.

Back cover.

THE DESIGN BRIEF: SUSTAINABLE ARCHITECTURE: TURTLE HOUSE DESIGN (WITHIN AN AZTEC CULTURAL CONTEXT)

SITUATION

You are a turtle living in Mexico (South America) during the age of the Aztec civilisation. You see the Aztecs travelling every day by boat (canoe) transporting vegetables, meat, etc. on their waterways. You and your turtle family live on the banks of the large lake and swim among the Aztecs daily. Remember the Aztecs build their city (Tenochtitlan) on stilts in the water. It is the year 1521...

DESIGN BRIEF

Design a sustainable turtle house for you and your family. The structure has to house 4 x turtles in total, including your mom and dad (or caregivers). Use bio-mimetic principles to guide you (ask nature how). You have to think like a turtle. Draw on your experiences as a turtle and your research. However, you must design and construct it like a human being. In other words, ‘think like a turtle and construct (design) like a human’.

FOR TEACHERS ONLY: What is behind the lesson/design brief that could benefit students?

What are employers looking for in employees in the modern era which we live in? To access information and knowledge are easy. However, the question is “what can you do with what you know”? Wagner (2012) identifies seven important areas that could be developed. How can we as teachers develop these skills of students? Wagner lists the seven important areas as follow:

  • Critical thinking and problem-solving (ability to ask the right questions)
  • Collaboration across networks and leading by influence
  • Agility and adaptability.
  • Initiative and entrepreneurship
  • Effective oral and written communication
  • Accessing and analysing information
  • Curiosity and imagination

For example, in this design brief most of these areas, as discussed by Wagner (2012) are fully included:

Critical thinking:

Which strategy do the individual and the group select to solve the turtle house brief?

Do they consider several avenues, and then choose the best one? HINT: Encourage rigorous critical thinking. Show students how to challenge one another’s thinking without creating conflict. Show students how to take different perspectives to explore different possible solutions. Show students how to solve problems by using different methods. For example, encourage a multi-disciplinary approach which could include: Biological/Scientific/Mathematical/Social/Political/Economic/etc. Approach (Van Zyl, 2013).

Collaboration:

How successful is the syndicate (a group of 3) to discuss, and communicate their design ideas, and how successful are their co-operative actions?

Do they utilise good leadership? Do they consult everyone in the group? HINT: Explain the important aspects of good collaboration. Show students how to structure their group, for example, identify the strengths of each individual and then assign specific tasks to every member of the syndicate (synergy).

How adaptable are the students to place themselves literally in the ‘shoes’ of the turtle family? 

 HINT: Allow and encourage students to practice taking the perspective of someone else.

How deep do the individuals and syndicate dig to come up with new and original (creative & innovative) solutions for the design brief?

HINT: Encourage students to take risks and leave their comfort zones (Van Zyl, 2013). Encourage students to think like a businessperson, focus on profit (Van Zyl, 2013)! For example, could the ideas become a real product? Could the product be exported and sold around the world for a profit?

How effectively do they communicate their ideas as group?

How well is the solution/presentation documented and typed up (annotations & illustrations)? HINT: Teach students how to do the basics of APA referencing and citations to support their written work. Allow the students to presenting their ideas to the class. For example, let them take turns to present different aspects of the design solution.

How well are they accessing the appropriate information/knowledge for solving the brief?

Do they know where to access the relevant information? Can they critically, and in-depth, analyse the information for the solution? HINT: Encourage students to learn about refining ‘Google searches’ on the internet. Explain the different methods available to analyse information. For example: compare/juxtapose/layer/assess/critique/discuss/identify/dissertation techniques.

Are they curious to find a unique solution?

Do the individuals and the group have the enthusiasm (synergy) and the imagination to harness their collaborative ‘energy’ to solve the design problem? HINT: Stimulate student’s curiosity by showing them a very wide scope of problem-solving techniques. Teachers should assist students to extend their imagination by modelling the way (Van Zyl, 2013).


Contents 

 

SITUATION. Page 11

DESIGN BRIEF. Page 11

FOR TEACHERS ONLY: What is behind the lesson/design brief that could benefit students?. 11

For example, in this design brief most of these areas, as discussed by Wagner (2012) are fully included: 13

Critical thinking: 13

Which strategy do the individual and the group select to solve the turtle house brief?. 13

Collaboration: 13

How successful is the syndicate (a group of 3) to discuss, and communicate their design ideas, and how successful are their co-operative actions?. 13

How adaptable are the students to place themselves literally in the ‘shoes’ of the turtle family?. 14

How deep do the individuals and syndicate dig to come up with new and original (creative & innovative) solutions for the design brief?. 14

How effective do they as a group communicate their ideas?. 14

How well are they accessing the appropriate information/knowledge for solving the brief?. 14

Are they curious to find a unique solution?. 15

Link to a video clip by W van Zyl (YouTube): Illustrates a possible solution to the sustainable turtle home design brief. How would you solve it?. 16

A short story of the “Turtle Island” from Wikipedia as inspiration- American Indian culture context: 16

A New Zealand context (Indigenous Māori story): Māui hauls up the North Island out of the ocean from his canoe (‘waka’). 18

Now read about the Aztecs in Mexico, and their city on Lake Texcoco. The city Tenochtitlan was built in the lake on stilts: Imagine yourself and your turtle family living in the lake….. 18

How to harness your imagination: 20

You should consider: 21

Suggested procedure to complete the design brief: 23

Aztec Turtle House Design Brief Solution: Research about other indigenous cultures like American Indian, Maori (New Zealand), and former Aztec culture. 28

About this resource: 28

Sustainable Turtle House. 28

Situation: You are a turtle living in Mexico (South America) during the age of the Aztec civilisation. You see the Aztecs travelling every day by boat (canoe) transporting vegetables, meat, etc. on their waterways. You and your turtle family live on the banks of the large lake and swim among the Aztec daily. Remember the Aztecs build their city on stilts in the water. It is the year 1521... 29

Design Brief: Design a sustainable turtle house for you and your family. The structure has to accommodate 4 x turtles in total, including your mum and dad (or caregivers). Use bio-mimetics—ask nature how—to guide you. You have to think like a turtle (draw on your experiences-research). However, you must construct it like a human being. In other words, think like a turtle and construct (build) like a human. 29

Research: A freshwater Turtle tank. 30

Research: Aztec freshwater turtles. 32

Research: Aztec culture overview. 33

Research: What do freshwater turtles eat?. 34

Research: 10 Amazing Turtle Species. 34

Research: How to set up an aquatic turtle tank: 35

Turtle Architecture: 36

Research: Bio Creativity-Art [Blog posts] 36

Research: How to build a land turtle habitat 37

Research: How to create a turtle habitat 38

Research: Feeding aquatic turtles: 38

Research: Biomimetics + architecture +turtle. Page39

Zurich Elephant House boasts a domed wooden roof and swimming pools for animals (inspired by a turtle/tortoiseshell) 39

References: 41

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Page 42

APA REFERENCING AND CITATION: Page 43