Drexel University presents ten architecture and design projects


A graphic novel examining Black history and a project focused on tourism and sustainability in New Orleans are included in Dezeen’s latest school show from students at Drexel University.


Also included is a housing project designed for the elderly in South Korea and an eco-retreat dedicated to connecting its guests to wildlife.


School: Drexel University, Department of Architecture, Design and Urbanism
Courses: B Architecture, BS Interior Design, MS Interior Architecture and MS Design Research
Tutors: Professors Mangold, Nicholas, Schade and Temple-West

School statement:

“Drexel University offers the nation’s top programmes for experiential learning with dedicated co-op work experiences and a mission of civic engagement.

“The Department of Architecture, Design and Urbanism includes undergraduate programmes in architecture and interior design and graduate programmes in interior architecture, design research and urban strategy.

“Work from our programmes explores qualities of place and considers that our lives are shaped by the spaces we inhabit. At all scales, we respond to the form, light and materials of the world around us, and we actively engage our social and natural environments.

“Through research and design interventions, our work enhances our lives and promotes community.”


The underground complexity of downtown Philadelphia

Integrating Transit, History and the Public Realm: Creating a New Dignified Commons for Centre City Philadelphia by Christopher Hytha

“The underground complexity of downtown Philadelphia amazes me. In the heart of the city, far below the streets, a labyrinth of concourses, rail lines and service tunnels weave together in the service of getting urban dwellers from place to place.

“Unfortunately, the experience of descending to the underground is one of detachment, disorientation and dismay. What if these systems were integrated into the experience of the city? What if natural daylight penetrated into the deepest train platform and views of City Hall oriented visitors upon arrival?

“Picking up on cues from William Penn’s plan and Ed Bacon’s Penn Centre Vision, my project aims to create a dignified public realm activated by a multimodal transportation hub.”

Student: Christopher Hytha
Course: B.Arch Architecture
Tutor: Katie Broh, AIA




Mitigating the Dangers of Concrete Jungles with Biotecture by Mizuki Davis

“The current segregation of living and non-living systems, especially in our cities, has had devastating effects on both humans and the environment.

“With biotecture, the synthesis of biology and architecture, we can design a brighter future, in which our philosophical understanding of the ‘natural environment’ incorporates architecture as an integrated constituent.”

Student: Mizuki Davis
Course: MS Interior Architecture
Tutor: Rena Cumby


An eco retreat that aims to connect its visitors to nature

Azola Eco Retreat by Abby Karle

“The Azola is a self-fertilising plant that creates a healthy environment for itself and the plants around it. This positive regeneration loop is the crux of the design.

“An upscale eco-retreat, connecting guests to the local ecosystem through wildlife, sustainable activities, farm-to-table culinary experiences, and ultimately to themselves and each other. The interior design aims to follow the forms found in nature to create movement and blur the line of interior and exterior.”

Student: Abby Karle
Course: BS Interior Design
Tutor: Sarah Lippmann


A housing project for the elderly in South Korea

The New Hanok: Aging with Grace, Yang-Pyeong, South Korea by David Jae Hyeok Lim

“Ageing is a natural part of our lives. With rapid modernisation, the ageing population has been forgotten, and resources for this group have been significantly lacking. Instead of dreading this upcoming chapter of our lives, I believe it has the potential to be as joyful and fulfilling as the rest of our lives.

“I propose this housing project for the elderly in South Korea, which has the fastest-growing ageing population in the world, to provide a new prototype which is a housing facility that can provide consolation, growth and opportunity that the older generation deserves.

“Aging can be difficult and a frightening time… but can be made more bearable by a community that provides opportunity. Ageing should not be about staying alive. It should be about finding joy and having the freedom to do better and live better.”

Student: David Jae Hyeok Lim
Course: B Architecture
Tutor: Kelly Vresilovic, AIA


A graphic novel of the Black Diaspora by Karla Roberts

Resistance: Speculative Design Confronts Systemic Trauma of the Black Diaspora by Karla Roberts

“Grounded in Afrofuturism, this thesis explores architectural and interior spaces in a parallel universe using the narrative form of the graphic novel.

“The intent is to highlight the erasure of Black history prior to enslavement, giving space for a positive future unbound by anti-Black hatred. The past, present and future of the Black Diaspora are synthesised utilising history, technology and imaginative outcomes.”

Student: Karla Roberts
Course: MS Interior Architecture
Tutor: Sarah Lippmann


A multi-cultural centre by a student at Drexel University

Multicultural Centre by Maryam Abdou

“This multicultural student centre employs fundamental resources for facilitating the transition of international students throughout their college career. The centre creates a safe space that stimulates healing and inclusivity in its design. International students are encouraged to acclimate not only as students at an American university but also to American life and culture.

The design of this centre is devised to boost intercultural and interracial engagement through cultural, artistic, environmental, culinary and academic levels. It aims to strengthen students’ connection with their community and nature through building relationships with other international and American students.

“By utilising design methods such as biodesign and biophilia, this multicultural centre will thrive as an exceptional, sustainable space that aspires to connect people from all around the globe and celebrate what makes every one of them special.”

Student: Maryam Abdou
Course: BS Interior Architecture
Tutor: Karen Pelzer


A community engagement centre

Tourism and Sustainability in New Orleans by Rachel Ayella-Silver

“Tourism is unsustainable and must be reconceived as a way to improve the wellbeing of host communities and sustain the social, environmental and economic conditions of destination regions.

“This thesis places New Orleans at the centre, with spaces for community engagement through cooking, service and leisure to create tourist experiences that are authentic and sustainable.”

Student: Rachel Ayella-Silver
Course: MS Interior Architecture
Tutor: Sequoyah Hunter-Cuyjet


A mental wellness centre designed with a focus on biophilic design

Saudades da Natureza: Longing for Nature by Raphaella Pereira

“Within the last decade, Brazil’s urban cities have grown exponentially due to the increase of its advanced economy and new technologies. This rapid urbanisation has also caused a rise in mental health and environmental issues within these cities, as their natural forests have been destroyed, thus disrupting the balance of life.

“I am challenging the typical design approach in urban development by proposing a mental wellness centre designed with a focus on biophilic design in Brazil’s largest city of São Paulo, otherwise known as ‘The Stone Jungle.’

“This model of design is intended to restore the balance of the natural and built environment in our cities, bringing back life into the urban environment of Brazil.”

Student: Raphaella Pereira
Course: B Architecture
Tutor: Richard King, AIA


A diagrammed of ethical housing design

Cultures of Place – Ethical Design Solutions for Urban Density by Rachel Jahr

“Cultures of Place explores the intersection of cultures, places and ecologies. It examines how to combine them through an integrated level of design thinking intentionally.

“This focuses on the shifting perceptions of urban living through permaculture practices and regenerative design techniques. It aims to create solutions considering cultural, economic and green space factors as prominent design issues.

“Permaculture introduced into the urban design fabric is a nonviolent form of civil disobedience – a type of silent anarchy using the interconnectedness between people, other animals, land, water and air with the human dimension battling the social and biophysical conflicts.

“The research outlines the mechanisms related to designing an ecologically friendly urban setting through a place-based approach influenced by the human lived experience as well as technological advancements to close of the knowledge gap about Earth’s systems.”

Student: Rachel Jahr
Course: MS Design Research
Tutor: Nicole Koltick


Sondr Art Centre is a community art centre

Sondr Art Centre by Lorraine Francisco

“Creating art without limits involves celebrating one’s individuality through creativity and imagination. This community centre highlights the importance of the arts through unity and inclusivity with the contrasting elements of chaos and organisation.

“It is with these opportunities in mind that this space embraces natural light, openness and community with the intention of growth, education, and creation as the overall objective.”

Student: Lorraine Francisco
Course: BS Interior Design
Tutor: Frances Temple-West


Partnership content

This school show is a partnership between Dezeen and Drexel University. Find out more about Dezeen partnership content here.



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