Conceived around the concept of protostructure, HOUSE 1 deploys a strategy to answer a daring but simple question: How could we design a house between almost 300 people? The unique pedagogical framework of ALICE, first year Architectural Design course, proposes the integration of a series of full scale physical wooden constructs, enacting collaborative thinking and drawing on collective spatial knowledge. The protostructure constitutes at once both a material and immaterial open source support for the individual and collective interventions by the students. Its material dimension as a physical construction is invested and complemented by the immateriality of the guiding scheme. In this article, we review the steps in the development of the theoretical model and physical implementation of HOUSE 1 and discuss its relevance with regards to the relation between analogical and digital modes of engagement, pedagogical frameworks and spatial cognitive strategies. This implementation of the protostructure shows its potential as a tool to approach wood design, through a combination of digital and analogical processes, enhancing the deployment of spatial cognitive strategies with the use of wood as a material through and with which to think about space.