Kester Rattenbury on the RMIT model

RMIT

Leon van Schaik became head of Architecture of RMIT in 1986 (…) he found a city with a group of excellent architects, well-respected by their peers, with a strong body of work but little sense as to how to articulate what was particular about it – and with almost no international recognition (…) Van Schaik invited them to ‘surface the evidence about their already established mastery’: to find, articulate, test and improve the design propositions they were making by actually designing. The remarkable local architectural scene, in which van Schaik became active on many fronts, is thus partly an academic outcome of a brilliant ongoing academic design research endeavor(…) The RMIT model is an astonishing success. Around 15 years ago, van Schaik developed the Masters course into a PhD by Practice: a program which now has 150 students enrolled between academic hubs in Australia, South-East Asia and Europe – one of the biggest architecture PhD programs anywhere (…) Students on this program have to be established designers, with a proven track record and a body of recognized work within which they uncover and develop a doctoral thesis. They must articulate their particular way of working and identify their referents – the people, buildings and environmental experiences they are drawing on – to establish their equivalent of a methodology and literature search. They have to extract and analyse their own tactics – the way they draw things, work with clients, interact, whatever they do to generate a design: to identify the working thesis, if you like, in their work. (bold-italics are mine)

 

References

Kester Rattenbury, 2015. Revealing Secrets. In the Architectural Review ‘The education Issue’. Full article available here

More on RMIT’s program in Europe here

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