MSA Stage 4 School of Architecture

Joseph Staitis


Joseph’s design ethos looks to create architecture that puts people first with a focus on how design can create a positive influence. His work explores harmony in design to create vibrant, purposeful, and socially conscious spaces.

“I decided to choose to pursue a career in architecture as I found particular interest in why we build. I liked the fact that design was being implemented in society in a useful and meaningful context, bettering the lives of those who are impacted by it. It’s a tool of social reform that I wanted to be a part of.”

His work continues to explore the themes of architectural experience and perception, and how this has been developed and utilised within design.

Phase 1 – Urban Strategy
Phase 2 – Urban Housing
Phase 3 – Urban Building
Architectural Technology – Precedent Study
Architectural Technology – Intergration


The Architecture of Phenomenology:
A comparative study of theory surrounding the architectural impact of the five human senses.


We perceive the surrounding world by our senses, predominately sight. As babies and toddlers, we learn and experience the world in a far more haptic manner- mainly through our mouths, by touch, taste, smell, and hearing. Studies have emphasised how crucial this stage in early years development is, having shown that when young children were haptically exposed to objects, they were quicker to both identify and associate the object with its name. It can therefore be understood that the human body uses the entire sensorium to gather and process external data from the world around us, which in turn shapes our understanding of it.
Yet as we grow older, we further depend on sight as the primary tool to experience the world. From work to leisure, science to art, the screen to physical print- society can be characterized by an acceleration of visual dominance, writes mid-20th century philosopher Michel De Certeau. Such a strong dependency on vision could be considered to have suppressed and stifled the other sense’s ability to be fully incorporated and utilized to enhance the everyday embodied human experience.

Similar trends can also be seen in architecture, with contemporary buildings veering further away from an eclectic experience of the sensorium. This pull can be cited in some of the early writings of popularist Modernist architects, such as Le Corbusier. In his book Towards a New Architecture, he writes “Architecture is a plastic thing. I mean by “plastic” what is seen and measured by the eye.” Such a position indicates the importance and priority given to the eye when considering the built form. Corbusier declares the plasticity of architecture, which relates to his views on architectural expression emphasised by human observation. He speaks of this value by the experience created by means of; sculpted forms, crafted natural light, solid & void space, and material choices & weight, all on the basis of vision alone. These characteristics of his work, however, do carry a certain sensory quality – plasticity evoking a substance that is tactile, worked by the hand. It can be understood then that the design theory of architecture has indeed always recognised the importance of stimulating the senses, even if popular focus has moved towards purely visual and aesthetic appeal.

The value of sight in architecture, thus, has to be acknowledged. It is a key factor in understanding the sensorium. Architecture, like art, is generally considered as a primarily visual medium, it is almost impossible to experience without being able to see it. The key word is “experience.” Dutch Architect Steen Eiler Rassmussen explores this theme in more depth in his book, Experiencing Architecture (1959). He writes in length about ways in which we experience the built environment, placing the human at the centre of his approach, and describing architecture as a form that encompasses the observer. His work explores broad architectural expression, composition, and materials, exploring how design choices tune into and affect our senses, which impacts the overall experience of the building. The core concept of this book can be put simply by “it is not enough to see architecture; you must experience it.”

Thus, the concept of phenomenology is introduced. Fundamentally concerning itself as the human experience perceived through our senses. Rassmussen did not establish this term, yet it can be considered as a somewhat debated and fluid concept, born in the realm of philosophy during the 19th century. Derived from the Greek phainonmenon, meaning to show, and logos, to study, phenomenology can be literally considered as the study of things shown.

Later, the concept was applied to- and evolved with- an architectural understanding, which will be the focus of this research.


* Night Shift is an exhibition that aims to celebrate the vast array of processes employed by students within their works and the unique approaches they each take to bring them to fruition. The focus is looking for works of all media which has a particular focus on light. *

Phase 1 – Urban Strategy

Circular Economies

A circular economy re-thinks resource management by moving away from a linear “take-make-dispose” model, and towards a closed-loop reuse system. The approach aims to decouple economic growth from resource depletion and environmental harm, allowing for collaboration among industries to innovate and implement sustainable practices.


Within the context of the architectural industry, understanding and implementing a circular economy model has been explored and tested in how we retrofit and build from scratch.

A transition to a circular economy is imperative for a sustainable future.

Circular Economy Model

Site Analysis

Site Visit



Phase 2 – Urban Housing

Position on retrofit housing.

Considering the importance of housing stock to the city’s overall success has been a vital aspect in considering design moves.

My approach should consist of selective deconstruction, disassembly, and flexible reuse of existing housing (where appropriate), and new additions that promote and integrate an approach to communal and integrated living. To best understand the current issue occurring on-site, my proposal looks at housing at both a micro and macro level, identifying problems and presenting design solutions with justification on a neighbourhood scale.

Micro – individual flats should offer safe, accessible, flexible, and adaptable living apartments. The current housing is restricted by space and access. All flats follow the then-popular cookie-cutter approach to layout, orientation, and amenities, which doesn’t best reflect the wants and needs of the current residents. We are all different, our homes should reflect that.

Macro – the scheme should re-establish connections to the Glasgow grid which is some of the oldest in the city. The current housing presents very little clarity on the street edge. Further, it is coupled with an orientation that does not promote any sense of hierarchy or definitive front and back.

Key architectural language should be reminiscent of Scottish tenemental housing, allowing spaces to encourage active and passive community spaces. Further uses of shared courtyards, spends, and bays should be suggested throughout.

Be it new residents, an aging population, or changing family and work dynamics our lives are rich and complex, and our homes should be a sanctuary to reflect and inhabit these changes.

Existing Building Conceptual Narrative

Existing Block Plan

Existing Site Plan

Massing Tests

Proposed Floor Plans

Proposed Ground Floor Plan

Proposed Master Plan

Ground Floor Plan

Retrofit Elevation

Ariel View

Street View

Axo Apartment


Housing Model


Phase 3 – Urban Building

Position Statement Civic Building.

The construction industry accounts for 39% of global Carbon emissions.

Operational activities; including heating, cooling, and powering buildings, make up 28% of these emissions, whilst the remaining 11% stems from materials and construction processes. This method is unsustainable.

The UK’s departure from the European Union has exacerbated existing challenges, leading to a significant reduction in the availability of skilled workers from EU countries. The shortage spans multiple roles, which the UK Government has outlined; bricklayers, roofers, joiners, plasterers & supplementary roles, are most at risk.

My proposal aims to tackle both issues simultaneously. By establishing a platform to address, educate, and respond to these crises.

Through understanding, learning, and implementing the circular economy, we can instigate effective change. Through shared knowledge and practical tools, this initiative will serve as a model for a just transition, showcasing efficient building practices and considerations.

The building should further reflect and embody the essence of the architectural theory, acting as an urban repository for sustainable materials, construction, and democratic access to skills, tools, and the ability to learn.

Programme Research

Refined Programme

Refinement of Aggregation

Section Workshop

Facade Model

1.200 Massing Model

Level -02

Level -01

Level 00

Level 01

Level 02


Elevation Key

Site Model

Architectural Technology – Precedent Study

Building: Veemgebouw
Architects: Caruso St John
Location: Eindhoven, The Netherlands
Status: Built
Type: Retrofitted: Original-1940s / Retrofit- 2007-22
Use: Former industrial storage building turned mixed-use property hosting art exhibits & a food market
Rooms: 19 maisonettes, 19 studios and 1 three-storey house. 18 studios: 46 m2, rental price: € 800
1 studio: 73 m2, rental price: € 850
18 maisonettes: 87 m2, rental price: € 900
1 maisonette: 114 m2, rental price: € 950
There will also be 1 home of 3 floors with 170 m2 of usable surface, which will have a special purpose.


The Veemgebouw in Eindhoven, The Netherlands, is a multifunctional and modern residential mixed-use building. Originally a listed Phillips factory built circa 1940s it has now been retrofitted by Caruso St John in 2007. The building is a landmark of the city – created by a mix of contemporary aesthetics and reference to the industrial history of the city. It now hosts flexible spaces for houses, offices, studios, car parking, and a food market. The new apartments are on the top levels and match the existing building’s look and feel, with a staggered design and matching brick exteriors. An environmental system using solar panels and heat pumps provides hot water and heating, making the building energy-neutral throughout the year. The tower is a modern intervention in reference to the old transmission tower, which Philips used for experimental TV broadcasts for decades after the Second World War. The new tower is a sixteen-meter steel build which lights from the inside.

Architectural Technology – Intergration

Hempcrete was the concluded material choice as it offers numerous advantages as a sustainable alternative to traditional building materials, providing insulation, durability, and environmental benefits, while offering a straightforward manufacturing process.

It is an organic material made from the stalk fibres of hemp, lime, and water. I want to explore using this material as it embodies what my civic building is trying to advocate, whilst being the most applicable to the sustainability targets I’m trying to reach. It is sourced locally in Scotland, with a low-carbon process. In fact, as hemp grows it absorbs carbon and is one of the few carbon-negative building materials. Blocks are moulded off-site offering flexibility in methods of modular and prefab design. I like the material offers aesthetic choices, such as allowing the structure to be visible & haptically interesting.

Preliminary carbon testing also yielded a very low embodied carbon emission, further suggesting this building practice is sustainable, efficient, and practical.



Renewable and eco-friendly, as the hemp plants absorb CO2 during growth, making it a carbon-negative material.

Excellent thermal and acoustic insulation, creating comfortable interior spaces whilst reducing energy consumption for heating and cooling.

Material naturally “breathes” preventing moisture build-up and improving air quality.

Incredible longevity with minor maintenance required.

Naturally resistant to pests and fire, although added measures can be added.

It can be used for almost any part of the building.

Suggested to have non-flammable properties.



Locally sourced material is grown and then harvested. It is processed with lime and water before being cured over time, giving it strength. Blocks are bound with isohemp adhesive mortar, which should be lime-based to avoid vertical movement and provide additional strength.

THERMAL CONDUCTIVITY                        0.040W/M.K

BULK DENSITY                                            45KG/M³

SPECIFIC HEAT CAPACITY                        2100J/(KGK)


SOUND REDUCTION                                  MIN 40DB (50MM+)

CARBON (NET STORAGE)                          -0.70 KGCO2EQ/KG