From denial to acceptance: a turning point for design studio in architecture education by James Benedict Brown

The question for the coming autumn is resolutely not how can we recreate the architecture studio online. It is how we can liberate our discipline from the assumption that an ill-defined space, time, pedagogy and culture is the only way to teach design. It is an opportunity to re-construct architecture education in a more critical, inclusive and democratic way. (highlighting is mine)

Full article available here

Design-Build: Definitions and Criticisms

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Abdullah, 2011: separation of design and building could be the philosophical difference between thinkers (designers) and doers (builders)

Harriss & Widder, 2014: Design build projects exist between the two tectonic plates of learning in academia and practice

Vlahos, 2000: Conventional studio projects present a disconnect from the needs of people and places and the understanding of different cultures. The outcomes of the theoretical studio projects are strongly developed, controlled, formal solutions with little understanding of the architectural intervention in communities. Students engage predominantly with theoretical, fictional projects.

Nepveux, 2010: Being involved physically in building allows students to reconcile their drawings with real structures they can build, weld, wire and plumb

Delport, 2016: Design-build projects have as outcome a physical product made through a process that can vary greatly in scope, focus and intent. They bring in tacit knowledge to the curriculum. The object contributes to social change and improving the lives of others

Van der Wath, 2013: it is an oscillation between the abstract to the concrete that allows students to develop the intellectual agility to tackle the complexities of arch innovation and experimentation that they will use in prof. practice

Brown, 2014: Live Projects’ greatest opportunity is not that it is a place to reflect on one’s own learning but, that it is a place to share that learning and reflection with others (Engestrom: a collective activity system is driven by a deeply communal motive)


Erdman, 2002: hands-on built projects in attempting to close the gap between designing and building replace the reflective process of design with the active process of building (-) they resist theorizing and critical discourse (-)

Chiles & Till, 2004: balance between practice and education encourages students to position themselves politically (+) prevarication is also not possible as the luxury of long-term studio development is removed (+)

Christenson & Srivastava, 2005: Focus on completion within a specific time frame overrides the value of process

Foot, 2012: where the completion and the focus on the end product are taken out of the equation, the notion of reflection, open-endedness and non linearity allows students to discover a variety of possible solutions


Hermie Elizabeth Delport, 2016, Towards Design-Build Architectural Education and Practice: Exploring Lessons from Educational Design-Build Projects, PhD Thesis, Prof Johannes Cronjé, Faculty of Informatics and Design at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology

ACSA-EAAE Conference Presentation

Re conceptualizing the role of tutors in research-based pedagogy: the tutor(s) as the curriculum

The paper presents the efforts made to experiment with the pedagogical framework and the operational model of a postgraduate urban design studio based on the reconceptualization of the role of tutors. In the model examined here, the curriculum was devised as an open and evolving network of the tutors’ resources and affiliated researchers from within or outside the setting of the academy. This mosaic consisted of different individual research and design practices that are problem-focused and context-specific, communicated directly to students by the very people responsible for their conception and development. Learners were required to investigate the instrumentality of these practices according to their own personal pursuits; to make their own networks of connections, and were even encouraged to create their own personal schemata of design research. In fact, the second major shift of the rethink lay in recognizing learner autonomy and diversity, thus establishing a new operational framework for the two to prosper. An amalgam of interconnected learning spaces provided the conditions necessary for all these networks to co-exist and interact. The paper describes the different aspects of the tutors’ involvement and contributions in the design and implementation of this model, as they assumed a number of roles, but most importantly, as they became learners themselves.

Networked Learning


The network is a network of people: networked learning aims to understand social learning processes by asking how people develop and maintain a ‘web’ of social relations used for their learning and development (de Laat)

Networked learning does not necessarily involve ICT, though in specific cases it may make use of technology. What makes learning networked is the connection to and engagement with other people across different social positions inside and outside of a given institution.  The network is supportive of a person’s learning through the access it provides to other people’s ideas and ways of participating in practice as well as of course through the opportunity to discuss these ideas and ways of participating and to potentially develop nuanced, common perspectives (Carvalho and Goodyear)

Networked learning may utilize ICT but it might me also supported by other means such as physical artefacts or artistic stimulation of senses and feelings while connections may also be drawn spontaneously by the learners themselves (Bober & Hynes)

The network is a network of situations or contexts: connections between the diverse contexts in which the learners participate as significant for understanding learning beyond online learning spaces, and, indeed, within them as well. This is the sense in which the network, under-stood as a network of situations, supports learning: by offering tacit knowledge, perspectives and ways of acting from known situations for re-situated use in new ones. Networked Learning’ on this under-standing is the learning arising from the connections drawn between situations and from the resituated use in new situations of knowledge, perspectives and ways of acting from known ones (Dohn)

The ‘network’ is one of ICT infrastructure, enabling connections across space and time: The support for learning provided by the network is one of infrastructure, i.e. the ease of saving, transporting and retrieving content for future use. Learning, it would seem, will be ‘networked’ whenever it is ICT-mediated, by that very fact; perhaps with the proviso that the situations of learning should indeed be separated in space and/or time so that the infrastructure (the ‘network’) is actually brought into play. This proviso would differentiate the field of networked learning somewhat from the field of Computer Supported Collaborative Learning (CSCL), where many studies concern ICT-facilitated group work between physically co-located students. The re-search field of Networked Learning is characterized, not only by focusing on ‘networks’, but also by taking a certain approach to learning, focusing critically on aspects of democratization and empowerment (Czerniewicz and Lee)

The ‘network’ is one of actants: consisting of both human and non-human agents in symmetrical relationship to each other. It is a systemic approach to learning, where individual learners’ interaction and learning may be analyzed as a result of socio-material entanglement with objects and other people. The network supports learning in the sense that any learning is in fact the result of concrete socio-material entanglement of physical, virtual, and human actants (Wright and Parchoma; Jones)



Bonderup Dohn, N., Sime, J-A., Cranmer, S., Ryberg, T., & de Laat, M. (2018). Reflections and challenges in Networked Learning. In N. Bonderup Dohn, S. Cranmer, J-A. Sime, M. de Laat, & T. Ryberg (Eds.), Networked Learning – reflections and challenges (pp. 187-212). Switzerland: Springer. Research in Networked Learning,

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the skills of listening to others becomes as important as making clear statements/ the good listener has to respond to intent, to suggestion, for the conversation to keep moving forward/ the difference between the two terms is not a matter of either/or. the heart of it all lies in picking up on concrete details, on specifics, to drive a conversation forward. Bad listeners bounce back in generalities when they respond; they are not attending to those small phrases, facial gestures or silences which open up a discussion.

Dialectic: the verbal play of opposites should gradually build up to a synthesis (…) the Aristotelian notion that although we use the same words, we cannot say we are speaking of the same things (..) the aim is to come to a mutual understanding (…) the listener elaborates the assumption by putting it into words (…) in the Socratic notion, the echo is actually a displacement

Dialogic: first coined by Mikhail Bakhtin to name a discussion which does not resolve itself by finding a common ground (…) though no shared agreements may be reached, through the process of exchange people may become more aware of their own views and expand their understanding of one another (..) knitted together but divergent exchange (…) a dialogic conversation can be ruined by too much identification with the other person.

Excerpts from Richard Sennett’s book, Together: The Rituals & Politics of Cooperation, 2012, London: Penguin Books (pages 18-20)

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Unraveling the relationship between learning and reflection


a deep approach is where the intention of the learner is to understand the meaning of the material/ a surface approach to learning is where a learner is concerned to memorise the material for what it is/ between the two there is a continuum with an hierarchy of stages:

  • noticing: representation is reproduction
  • making sense: representation is coherent reproduction
  • making meaning: representation is of ideas that are integrated and well linked (beginnings of deeper approach)
  • working with meaning: representation is reflective, well structured and demonstrates the linking of material with other ideas which may change as a result
  • transformative learning: representation demonstrates strong restructuring of ideas and ability to evaluate the processes of reaching that learning

REFLECTION has a role in the deeper approaches/ we learn from representing learning/ we upgrade learning/ Reflection:

  • slows down activity, giving the learner time to process
  • helps the learners to develop greater ownership of the learning material
  • it encourages meta-cognition
  • works with materials that are complicated and ill structured and helps students improve their cognitive ability



Moon, J., 2001. PDP Working Paper 4: Reflection in Higher Education Learning. In LTSN Generic Centre, full article available here

Image is Kolb’s circle Experiential Learning concept (1984) available here

Profiling teachers in the DS



  • experienced designers but only rarely expert educators
  • teachers are not trained as teachers and rarely receive thorough, relevant feedback regarding their teaching performance/ design teachers, like other educators in academic institutions, are appointed on the basis of their professional knowledge and skills and receive all but no training as teachers
  • they bring knowledge, professional skills, theory in use, personalities, values and their understanding of their role
  • Quayle classification: instructor as source of authority/ as facilitator/ as “buddy”
  • Webster classification
  • Uluoglu reports that 47% of the design teachers in several schools consider their educational (pedagogic) capacity to be the single most important factor in their work
  • Schon: the studio master tries to figure out what the student understands/ constructs a dialogue in the media of words and performance/ tries to make interventions matched to the student’s understanding

Using linkography*, Goldschmidt examines three cases of teacher-student interaction during a crit. Her conclusions are that the teachers:

  • must navigate among categorical action priorities that suit the student’s needs and his or her own tendencies
  • must raise issues and sustain ideas at both a general and a specific level preferably while demonstrating and modeling for the student what can be done and how
  • must do everything without making the students feel that the teachers are designing their project for them
  • issues raised must be made relevant to students by tying them to students’ concepts
  • must give examples
  • must not put pressure on students to come up with “correct” notions
  • must not let the student feel that they know sth the students don’t have access to
  • coaching seems to be the most fruitful strategy in this sample of investigation



Goldschmidt, G., Hochman, H., Dafmi, I., 2010. The design studio “crit”: Teacher-student communication. In Artificial Intelligence for Engineering Deisgn, Analysis and Manufacturing, 24, pp. 285-302, doi:10.1017/S089006041000020X

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Linkography: is a notation and analysis system that treats links among protocol units. It is based on the premise that the proportion and distribution of links among units, and in particular, units that are highly interlinked with other units, are indicative of the quality of important characteristics of the situation under scrutiny

Teaching informed research (TIR)



DS teaching as a generator of research/ it is studio teaching and the design processes associated with it that lead the research/ central to this approach are studio projects and they become the focus of critical analysis – student projects are the research data/ A popular perception of the research-teaching nexus is that teaching benefits through the curriculum being informed by research – even if it is conducted independently – thus ensuring that content is at the forefront of knowledge/ research and teaching can relate to one another in a variety of ways – often influenced by the discipline context and field of inquiry (Griffiths)

  • Project A: Book repository

20-week design module/ exploration of the role of books/ term library was avoided/ physical books were highly significant in every project, in the majority of
the students’ projects they were an expression of a larger concept as much as for reading –such as their cultural symbolism, several projects explored the wider and more
complex roles libraries play as an important civic space and place of social interchange
within the public realm, / the projects ranged from a place for storytelling, to a place for writing, a third place, a meteorological observatory, a book museum, and an archive/

  • Project B: Terraced house 

six weeks module/students were asked to select one of three typical UK housing types – an urban block, terraced, or detached, semi-detached to explore the potential of this typology to accommodate contemporary forms of living, whilst examining the interrelated priorities of space, affordability and environmental sustainability/ rather than just considering space standards quantitatively numerous students explored it as a qualitative concept/ the family unit was often perceived as a plastic concept, flexing and changing significantly over time

research may not be able to feed into and inform the projects that are running but including student projects in tutor research is considered positive if students stick to program brief/ get acknowledged for publishing their work/ and avoid satisfying the idiosyncratic research interests of their tutors. in a relevant survey all students responded positively to the prospect of having their projects included in research papers



Smith, Ch., 2017. Take the red pill: a journey into the rabbit hole of teaching informed research. In Charrette 4(1) Spring 2017

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From Boyer’s Report to Teaching Commons

Teaching Commons

Boyer Commission Report Goals (1995):

  1. make research-based learning the standard: learning is based on discovery guided by mentoring rather than on the transmission of information/ inherent in inquiry-based learning is an element of reciprocity: faculty can learn from students as students are learning from faculty/ Involving Undergraduates in the Research Process/ A Mentor for Every Student/ Internships
  2. construct an inquiry-based freshman year: The first year of a university experience needs to provide new stimulation for intellectual growth and a firm grounding in inquiry-based learning and communication of information and ideas/ Seminar Learning/ Block Scheduling/ Remediation Before Admission
  3. build on freshman foundation: The freshman experience must be consolidated by extending its principles into the following years. Inquiry-based learning, collaborative experience, writing and speaking expectations need to characterize the whole of a research university education/ Long-term Mentorship/ Integrating Transfer Students
  4. remove barriers to interdisciplinary educationBreaking the Disciplinary Molds
  5. link communication skills and course work: Undergraduate education must enable students to acquire strong communication skills, and thereby create graduates who are proficient in both written and oral communication/ Communication in Every Course 
  6. use information technology creatively: Because research universities create technological innovations, their students should have the best opportunities to learn state-of-the-art practices—and learn to ask questions that stretch the uses of the technology/ The Electronic Classroom/ Enriching Teaching Through Technology
  7. culminate with a capstone experience: The final semester(s) should focus on a major project and utilize to the fullest the research and communication skills learned in the previous semesters.
  8. educate graduate students as apprentice teachers: Research universities must redesign graduate education to prepare students for teaching undergraduate students as well as for other professional roles/ Reshaping Professional Training/ Restoring Communication/ Solving the Teaching Crisis
  9. change faculty reward systems: Research universities must commit themselves to the highest standards in teaching as well as research and create faculty reward structures that validate that commitment/ Synergy of Teaching and Research/ Evaluating Teaching
  10. cultivate a sense of community: Research universities should foster a community of learners. Large universities must find ways to create a sense of place and to help
    students develop small communities within the larger whole/ Diversity as an Asset/ Linking Commuters and Residents

Building Community Report goals (1996):

  1. an enriched mission: whereby students are empowered with a duty to promote a wider agenda of beauty in support of an enriched environment and society
  2. diversity with dignity: promoting inclusive, varied, accessible and creative educational environments
  3. standards without standardization: maintaining diversity in provision and offer while maintaining rigorous, fair and open professional and educational standards
  4. connected curriculum: fusing the scholarships of teaching, inquiry and engagement with other communities within and outside the academy and the profession
  5. climate for learning: providing learning communities, which are supportive, transparent and sharing of common purposes between students, academics, support staff and professionals
  6. unified profession: seeking closer collaboration and understanding between the academy and the architectural profession
  7. service to the nation: establishing an ethical and socially activist agenda in architectural education for the betterment of society and the environment.

Boyer 1996: Four forms of scholarship: of Discovery/ of Integration/ of Application/ of Teaching

Glassick et al. 1997, SIX QUALITATIVE STANDARDS FOR THE IDENTIFICATION AND ASSESSMENT OF SCHOLARSHIP: Clear Goals/ Adequate Preparation/ Appropriate Methods/ Significant results/ Effective Presentation/ Reflective Critique

SoTL (Scholarship of Teaching and Learning) : movement that was developed to encourage critically reflective inquiry into educational methods and theories for the promotion of successful students learning/ philosophical shift from teaching to learning/

Teaching Commons: an academic space whereby ‘communities of educators committed to pedagogical inquiry and innovation come together to exchange ideas about teaching and learning and use them to meet the challenges of educating students for personal, professional, and civic life (Huber and Hutchings, 2005)/ the title has been imbued with contemporary resonance with the rise of Creative Commons

Remember post


  • The Boyer Commission on Educating Undergraduates in the Research University, 1995,  REINVENTING UNDERGRADUATE EDUCATION: A Blueprint for America’s Research Universities, available here
  • Boyer, E.L., 1990. Scholarship Reconsidered: PRIORITIES OF THE PROFESSORIATE. Carnegie Foundation for the advancement of teaching.
  • Boyer, E.L., Mitgang, L.D., 1996. Building community: a new future for architecture education and practice: a special report. Princeton: The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching
  • Holgate, P., Sara, R., 2014. Towards a learning commons for architecture. In Charrette 1(1) Summer 2014
  • Glassick, Ch. E., Huber, M.T., Maeroff, G.I. 1997. Scholarship Assessed: Evaluation of the Professoriate. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass

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Research in teaching


  • university research often detracts from the quality of teaching (Pocklington and Tupper 2002: 7)
  • courses taught by those at the cutting edge of research will necessarily be of higher quality than those taught by those merely using the research results of others – whatever the apparent quality of their style of delivery (Lee 2004: 9)
  • there is clear evidence from a range of studies in different types of institutions of students valuing learning in a research-based environment (Jenkins 2004: 29)
  • students are likely to gain most benefit from research, in terms of depth of learning and understanding, when they are also involved in research (Healey and Roberts 2004)

A range of terms is used in the literature, often interchangeably, to describe the research-teaching nexus. Griffiths (2004) suggests that a distinction might be made between teaching which is predominantly:

  • Research-led: where students learn about research findings, the curriculum content is dominated by staff research interests, and information transmission is the main teaching mode;
  • Research-oriented: where students learn about research processes, the curriculum emphasizes as much the processes by which knowledge is produced as learning knowledge that has been achieved, and staff try to engender a research ethos through their teaching;
  • Research-based: where students learn as researchers, the curriculum is largely designed around inquiry-based activities, and the division of roles between teacher and student is minimized
  • Research-tutored: top left quadrant, which, although not recognized by Griffiths (2004), is student-focused and emphasizes research content (see image above)

research is context specific and multidisciplinary rather than pure and discipline based; it has social relevance rather than being hypothesis led; it uses fuzzy, rather than empirically based data; it is problem solving rather than deductive. In what might be termed the commodification of knowledge, how knowledge is managed, synthesized and adapted become as important as knowledge itself (Jenkins and Zetter, 2003: 11)



Healey, M., 2005. Linking research and teaching: exploring disciplinary spaces and the role of inquiry-based learning. In Barnett, R (ed) (2005) Reshaping the University: New Relationships between Research, Scholarship and Teaching. McGraw Hill / Open University Press, pp.67-78

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Use of VLE for threshold concepts


First Year students/ 30 students – one tutor/ Phase One

collage workshop – evaluation of learning through anonymous post-it notes:

  • what did you grasp today? what’s still a bit confusing? (if a student didn’t understand something, however small and seemingly inconsequential, it would be
    heard (anonymously) and acted on.)
  • whose work did you find successful? ( to remind students that whilst their drawings grow from personal values and engagement, they succumb to the viewers’ interpretations)

collage workshop – online summary from the session was prepared

  • The online space of the VLE with content structured in the form of a tutorial session served to allow students to repeatedly go over moments of uncertainty or trouble from the workshop.

The demands of project based learning are rigorous: the need to generate elements of work continuously (or fear falling behind) puts pressure on students to sidestep conceptually difficult elements by creating works that seem correct yet do not demonstrate a grasp of the underlying principles

First Year students/ 30 students – one tutor/ Phase Two

learning orthographic projection – evaluation of mistakes & omissions

  • double approach: hand design and CAD design of the same process_images looked right but were not right in both design environments

learning orthographic projection – online tools for tutoring

  • fifteen minute podcast and sample sketchbook as online handout

Removing activities from the scheduled studio sessions offers a strategy for responding to a stuffed curriculum and frees up time to focus on elements of transformative learning



Williams, J., 2014. The design studio as liminal space. In Charrette 1(1) Summer 2014.

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