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MEDS Design‑Build

Architecture graduates - particularly those with a professional BArch degree - are invited to apply to a new, one-year Master of Environmental Design Studies (MEDS) option concentrating on Design-Build. This option consists of five courses plus a thesis. Courses start in May with a full semester of courses over the summer. Students typically will start their thesis in the fall semester and graduate on its completion.

Dalhousie's existing design-build option, Coastal Studio, makes community buildings and transfers knowledge of innovative techniques to local builders and trades. We use evidence-based design and techniques of community participation. We are developing a new reflective approach to technology innovation that is driven by insights of the humanities and social sciences. This includes input from community, sociologists, philosophers, historians, and economists. It is also connected through architecture to practical application in the construction sector. We are creating a network of early adopters in Canada and we support a culture of innovation in architecture.

Go to MEDS Design-Build FAQ page.

Go to Graduate Application page.

Design-Build project in 2017: Cape Breton Highlands National  Park grid shell building, Cheticamp, Nova Scotia

This is the fifth in a series of grid shells built by Coastal Studio with their partners at University of North Carolina Charlotte, University of Louisiana Lafayette and the University of Arizona. Dalhousie has been doing design-build structures since 1991 with its school-wide Free Lab program. Coastal Studio has been building pavilions for community use since 2004, including the 2010 lamella vault, the 2012 brick vault, and the 2014 gridshell. For a complete list of projects and the current work in Cape Breton Highlands National Park, see http://dalcoastalstudio.com

MEDS Design-Build Program  
Summer Term ARCH 6002.03: Free Lab (Design-Build)
During May, the student will join Coastal Studio on the current design-build project, learn the principles behind the structural form, and develop a focus for thesis study. During the remainder of the summer term, the student will contribute to the design-build network being produced at Dalhousie and work with researchers from several other universities.
Summer Term ARCH 5113.03: Technology, Culture, and Society
This course investigates technology by studying its histories, philosophies, and material cultures, using a social construction approach.
Summer Term ARCH 5106.03: International Sustainable Development
This course investigates building and the transfer of building knowledge across cultures. It is intended to give a background to participating in architectural design-build projects where there are minimal resources.
mid July –
mid September
ARCH 5013.06: Design-Build Studio
This studio is field work on the current design/build project. All students are included in discussions about the development of design details that improve and extend the design during the process of construction.
Fall Term ARCH 6304.03: Entrepreneurship
This course investigates how to start the process of project development in a profit and not-for-profit context. It includes making a business case while working with communities and technological innovation.
Fall Term ARCH 9011.12: MEDS Thesis
A written or a project-based thesis that investigates a particular building technology or community-based issue that is derived from experiences during the Design-Build project in ARCH 6002 and ARCH 5013. Generally, students elect to study construction from a building science perspective or the design and its processes from the perspective of a particular discipline in the humanities or social sciences. For thesis completion, a thesis document must be submitted to the university by December, or the student must register for MEDS Thesis Continuation in the winter semester.


Teachers and lecturers  

Tuition Fees

For tuition information, please see the Graduate Studies program fee schedule. (Fees for Canadian students are on page 1; differential fees for international students are on page 6.)

For additional information about the Design-Build option, contact:
Prof. Ted Cavanagh
See his faculty profile
Visit the Coastal Studio web site