Thesis Topic Advice

Let’s face it . Indian Architecture school thesis has been about been able to compile all knowledge of 4 years which mainly includes Concept derivation to building, ability to visualise end design, ability to produce technical drawings, Local government laws . Any efforts beyond this goes unnoticed. I would suggest you to be able to submit basics in first place, beyond that it’s upto your personal satisfaction. This has been my observations as both Student and Jury member.


@ajarindia It’s almost the big open “who am I, who do i want to be” question. It’s like asking people for what you should study after graduating highschool.

Mind that I don’t know your curriculum or how the Indian requirements go! But, on top of all the formalities as responding to your curriculum, satisfying your supervisor (to some extend) etc and inputs from @AndersDeleuran that I agree lot with, I’d like to add four aspects:

1 ) What are the problems of the world you want to solve through architecture?
It could be technical challenges in our time such as high CO2 impacts - can you build of recyclables?
Or it could affect your choice of typology, for instance here in Denmark, a lot of the churches are less and less used, and therefore many students do thesises on how to adapt a church into new usage. Depending on your balance between design and research you might use existing techniques to do a design, or if you are more into research then compare and evaluate existing techniques.

2 ) Who are you as a private person and whats your story?
This might be a bit corny, but genuinely theres so much potential here. What made you choose this career path? Was there something in the world that you wanted to change? An example could be if you live on an island that usually got flooded, you want to make a floating project?

My thesis buddy and I designed a cancer counseling centre because his brother had leukemia and I in my childhood visited similar therapeutic facilities a lot.
If you don’t know, perhaps ask your friends and family.

3) What are you good at?
This is something many people don’t reflect upon before the day they apply for their first job and update the portfolio and CV. It’s a good idea to ask the costudents around you how they see you; would they group up with you because you are a CAD expert, good storyteller, has a good aesthetic view on things, or something else?

It could also be off-curriculum. I know a guy who used to live in the forest and knew all the species etc as his father was a forrest caretaker(?). So he used his knowledge on wood species and used that in his design. Remember these answers as your future employer will ask the same.

4) What do you want to be good at?
This point may one or multiple things that you are interested in, but havent yet researched on. Maybe a topic you wish your school had offered you earlier but didnt.

Do you have a dream job in mind, or a certain role in a company? Do you want to go to a certain country to work? Then look for open jobs there and see what they require! Better now, than after graduation. Remember this is your chance to spend 6 months on the best ever project to the front page of the portfolio.

Good luck with it, and remember that a good thesis project does not require one to reinvent the wheel.

  • Mathias Sønderskov

A minor bit off topic, but remember well your participation in the Rhino newsgroup when you were in college! I haven’t used Rhino daily in about 16 years so we are both getting old, me more than you, I just turned 66.

Do the years count more the bigger they get? I’m right behind you Gary, don’t look back or I’ll start catching up.

Surprisingly I find my self in a big hurry to do things because the years are getting shorter and shorter. So I am super busy right now.

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Hi. In my opinion there are three categories of topics to develop. Let’s say that GH is a tool (I personally think that it goes beyond that, but anyway)

  1. You could develop the tool. This is probably not suited to an undergraduate thesis in architecture.

  2. You could investigate the impact of the tool. This includes the impact in design, planning and execution. The deep impact of having access to such a level of computation, so cheap, so “easy”. Again, a hard subject for undergraduate.

  3. The third one is to just use the tool. Use GH to explore new solutions for old problems, gather new data to get new insights. That is feasible.

As it has already been mentioned, in every case it is important to know what YOU want to do, what do YOU like. If, after pondering, you still don’t know what you would like to do, just pick a random subject and start doing something… If you don’t like it, change it.

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Sorry for the long post:
after writing and trying to resume I decided to highlight the main topics marked in bold to facilitate scanning.

I do understand and value this request, and think it should be expanded and organized.
As a PhD. candidate I have co-oriented several master thesis, and too often students will just reformulate existing knowledge due to knowledge limitations: their own or their supervisors’.

A way to work around knowledge limitations is to “innovate” from previous knowledge

(source: prt sc from

PROPOSAL 1 of 2 (individual):
Look back to previous knowledge with the new computing tools
(here meaning Grasshopper and Zoo friends)
We were all taught using extreme simplifications of building physics phenomena that are mere simplifications of the real things. It is time to review what we think we know.
Example: In a recent high level training on solar thermal the expert was insisting that solar thermal (ST) panels should be faced south. Computer software quickly demonstrates that SE and SW directions will give you almost the same amount of energy, peaking earlier or later, respectively. So consider dimensioning ST panels according to your global needs, either aesthetic or use related, not dictated by an overall theoretical yearly maximum. See a research topic here? Read next

PROPOSAL 2 of 2 (collective wishlist):
a collective research forum organized by useful functions.
Many of us investigate topics alone, wasting time and resources, and producing limited knowledge.
If we had a directory of collective investigation topics on real issues, we could share ideas that master students could help investigate with the support of their supervisor.
I’m upgrading a shed to nZEB to demonstrate that the Portuguese/European certification process is not the only way, nor the cheapest one to reach low emission buildings (more on the research publicly available at (PS: I’m a certified expert, and experts’ trainer, so this investigation comes from real issues identification)

Although I believe that this investigation can have an impact on the way we rehabilitate existing buildings, it would be limiting to focus on the shed only.
A topic like “Solar thermal roofs” would aggregate a masters dissertation on Construction and performance evaluation of a “do it yourself” solar thermal collector I have co/oriented (65% performance, I was surprised!) with other relevant information (circulation and pumps design, dissipators, etc)

But this was just an example.
I know about many projects organized by tool, or by case study.
Maybe we should make a research forum organized by functions, where master students, and other curious people could dig in and contribute to a new vision over old things.

But I have no idea about the best way to do it, I have been working alone for too long…

nelson brito


Dear all,

Thank you all for your wonderful responses and advice. I’ll be updating my thesis project here. Once, after I complete it.