AJ Survey shows high percentages of mental health problems among students of architecture


What Richard Waite and Ella Braidwood reported for AJ’s annual survey is pretty disconserting: results show that 26% of British students of architecture have faced or are currently facing mental health issues. These are attributed to stress caused by:

  • student debt and its consequent necessity to get paid jobs (…) almost two-fifths (38 per cent) of respondents said they would have accumulated a debt of £30,000-50,000 by the end of their course (…) 58 per cent of students based in London said their debt would be £40,000 or above (…) nearly two-fifths (38 per cent) reported that they don’t expect to pay off their student loan – an increase from 31 per cent the year before
  • no pay or little money for paid work (…) around a third (31 per cent) of students in the survey said they had been asked to work for free by practices. On top of this, some with a salary claimed they were often not paid to work overtime.
  • confronting the needs practical training or practice (…) A significant number of respondents felt architecture education was too long (61 per cent) and did not equip them for practice (35 per cent) (…) nearly two-fifths (38 per cent) said construction, technology and business teaching within architecture training was either ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’ (…) RIBA criteria requiring at least 50 per cent of the course to be on design may not leave enough in the curriculum for everything else
  • long working hours, exams and coursework deadlines (…) many students claimed the expectation of working long hours contributed to their mental illness. A culture of working into the night, the survey confirms, remains endemic in architecture schools (…) Just over nine in ten (91 per cent) students reported working through the night for their studies at some point – and almost one in three (29 per cent) said they did it on a regular basis.


Such results were meant to cause some turbulence for the academia. Bob Sheil, director of The Bartlett School of Architecture at University College London, told Dezeen that architectural education and accreditation needed “new models” and he pointed towards the qualification system. He addressed the matters raised by propagating the need for the creation of new programs that can embed the rapid changes occurring in the profession and make the most of student talents.

The high cost of student loans or the low wages are matters only tha state can resolve. But what I find interesting in this survey, is that one of the main stress generators comes from within the academia’s unwritten rules or hidden curricula as mentioned in a previous post. As a student claims in the AJ article: ‘A culture of suffering for your art is promoted within education’. Let’s admit we have all been caught victims in this vicious propaganda. This is why I think more attention should be given to class work and the time spent in class. For if there is enough time for students to work during class time there are at least two major gains: first there is less to be done at home and second they get more help while they are there in class both from their peers as well as from the teachers. Not to mention the confidence of having advanced or completed something at the end of the day.



Waite, R., Braidwood, E., July 2016, ‘Mental health problems exposed by AJ Student Survey 2016’, AJ, available here

Dezeen Magazine, Aug. 2016, ‘Bartlett head calls for new models of education to protect future UK architects’

For more interesting reading visit University of Toronto Mental Health Report 2013-2014

Design Studio Hidden Curriculum by Thomas Dutton


It refers to those unstated values, attitudes, and norms which stem tacitly from the social relations of the school and classroom as well as the content of the course (…) It does not refer to content per se but to the content ideology amd the practices that structure student and teacher experiences (…) a vehicle through which critical analysis reveals the dialectical relationship between knowledge, culture, social relations, and forms of power within society and within the process of schooling (…) In sum, the notion of the hidden curriculum constitutes one ofthe “most important conceptual tools” with which to analyze and critique educational institutions in terms of the knowledge forms that are produced, and the ongoing social practices that are formed to disseminate such knowledge.

The Hidden Curriculum & Studio Knowledge: to talk about knowledge is to talk about power. Dominant and subordinate forms of knowledge. (i.e the voices for a social architecture are weak, what prevails is an aesthetic concern) (…) This points to the pressures and practices of prominent institutions that bear on the profession to influence its direction. As these institutions necessitate physical manifestation they seek forms and languages through which their power will be communicated and legitimized.

The Hidden Curriculum & Social Relations: the structure of the studio mirrors the structure of most contemporary workplaces (…) hierarchy obviates the presence of dialog (…) Usually structured in vertical relations, teachers tend to speak in ways (often unconsciously) that legitimize their power and students orient their speech and work to that which is approved (…) competition tends to promote the belief that ideas are unique, to be nurtured individually, closely guarded, and heavily protected against stealing (…) students think they must work alone, or with those who see the world similarly to ensure the “purity” of ideas. Design in this view is legitimized as a self-indulgent activity, negating cooperation and compromise as possible vehicles for good design



Dutton, Th., 1987, ‘Design and Studio Pedagogy’, in Journal of Architectural Education (1984-), Vol. 41, No. 1. (Autumn, 1987), pp. 16-25.

Image available here

The Rural Studio


RURAL STUDIO, 1993, Auburn University, School of Architecture. Samuel Mockbee and D. K. Ruth cofounded the program (..) The Rural Studio emerged in the midst of a period when critiques of the symbiosis between modernist architectural production and footloose international capital had led to a rejuvenation of interest in vernacular architecture (…) In his writings and teachings, Mockbee outlined his vision of a participatory architecture engaged in its form and practice with locality and people, with strategies built on an implicit rejection of prevailing models of ‘‘American architecture [that] had retreated from social and civic engagement to a preoccupation with matters of style’.

The work of the Rural Studio reveals the contingent, dependent, and constrained position of architectural production in those contexts where crises generated by other
parts of social formations (be they economic, environmental, or political) are negotiated by architects.



Paul Jones & Kenton Card (2011) Constructing “Social Architecture”: The Politics of Representing Practice, Architectural Theory Review, 16:3, 228-244, DOI: 10.1080/13264826.2011.621543

Image (above) and following text is retrieved from the School’s site:

Rural Studio is an undergraduate program of the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture at Auburn University.

Rural Studio is an off-campus design-build program of Auburn University. The program, established in 1993 by D.K. Ruth and Samuel Mockbee, gives architecture students a more hands-on educational experience while assisting an underserved population in West Alabama’s Black Belt region. In its initial years, the Studio became known for establishing an ethos of recycling, reusing and remaking. In 2001, after the passing of Samuel Mockbee, Andrew Freear succeeded him as director. Since that time, Rural Studio has expanded the scope and complexity of its projects, focusing largely on community-oriented work.

The Rural Studio philosophy suggests that everyone, both rich and poor, deserves the benefit of good design. To fulfill this ethic, the Studio has evolved towards more community-oriented projects. Projects have become multi-year, multi-phase efforts traveling across three counties. The students work within the community to define solutions, fundraise, design and, ultimately, build remarkable projects. The Studio continually questions what should be built, rather than what can be built, both for the performance and operation of the projects. To date, Rural Studio has built more than 170 projects and educated more than 800 “Citizen Architects.”


The Tutor As:


  • entertainer: acts as a propagandist for architectural culture through telling stories and making references to their own experiences and historical examples, however, makes little attempt to interact with the students either to ensure understanding or connect with the students’ own ideas
  • hegemonic overlords: act in a way that ensures student conformity with their particular ideological position by correcting the students’ work and directing future work, often by drawing the students’ project for them. (they are the most prevailing kind)
  • liminal servant: according to Mc Laren this is the only type:  of tutor that increases the learners’ impetus that will support resourceful learning. By enthusiastically engaging with every student ideas, they make them also enthusiastic about their own learning. Their characteristics are: enthusiasm, openness, two-way communication, mutuality, empathy and counselling, co-management



Khorshidifard, S., 2011, ‘A paradigm in architectural education: Kolb’s Model and learning styles in studio pedagogy’, in The 2011 ARCC Architectural Research Conference papers hosted by the Lawrence Technological University April 20-23, 2011, available here

McLaren, P., 1999, Schooling as a Ritualised Performance, New York: Roman and Littlefield.

Webster, H., 2004, ‘Facilitating critically reflective learning: excavating the role of the design tutor in architectural education’, in Art, Design & Communication in Higher Education 2 (3) pp. 101–111, DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1386/adch.2.3.101/0

Book and Image available here

Research and Institutional Perspective


  • research query and its contextual relevance (proposal); documentation of the research method (process); and some form of public/semi-public peer review of the research output (product)
  • the development of a discipline from an understanding of relevant knowledge and its production, dissemination and transfer (including ‘storage’ over time), and an assessment of how such a body of knowledge impacts on action in practice, as well as how it is integrated into practice-oriented teaching and learning. This can be seen as the professional knowledge base.


Institutional Perspective

An institutional perspective is understood to include institutions as ways of thinking; here we are interested in what we consider to be ‘research’ and how this is influenced by ‘conceptual traditions’, with reference to architecture. An institutional perspective is also understood to include institutions as organisational structures through which we operate – universities, professional associations, government departments and so on. Here we are interested in how these affect, and interrelate with, conceptual traditions. This analytical approach is within the traditions of ‘new institutionalism’, where a key contribution is the conceptualisation of institutions as both mental models and as organisational forms.



Jenkins, P., Forsyth, L., Smith, H., 2005,’ Research in UK architecture schools – an institutional perspective’, arq, Vol. 9, No. 1

Laudrillard’s theory on learning


Laudrillard is for a “Conversational Framework” for Learning, one that promotes operation in levels: the discursive, theoretical, conceptual and the active, practical, experimental level. This is explicit to the diagram above which according to her is open to all sorts of educational technologies as well. In regard to ICT technologies in particular, she advocates for the more communicative tools that go beyond the traditional transmission activity, once again underlying the importance of dialogue.

She does, however, wander on how these technologies can even be adapted and managed by the academy. She proposes that such devices “grow organically”, thus they “begin life in the excitement of creativity and the intention of doing something different”. New designs can be based on these primary examples once they are considered generic. Thsi way, teachers could look around for what is already there and try minor alterations to see how these fit into their course instead of trying to invent something of their own.



Laudrillard, D., 2002, ‘Rethinking Teaching for the Knoweldge Society’, in EDUCAUSE Review, Vol 37, No. 1, pp. 16-25, full article available here

Design Studio Definitions (always in progress)


Design Studio is traditionally the focus and passion of architecture students. Studio is where students learn to transcend complex and indeterminate challenges so as to artfully and intelligently produce figural schemes for a built environment of human significance. (Bachman & Bachman)

Design Studio is the perfect model for inculcation and is essential for socializing students with a cultivated ‘habitus’. It is the place where knowledge and skills are integrated and applied.(Stevens)

Design Studio: both a physical space (an actual place) and the mode of engagement (pedagogical strategy). a third definition assigns studio the meaning of the place of work activity as in the artist’s studio. it is this particular aspect the educational studio attempts to replicate. (Crowther)

Design Studios apply the semi-structures learning strategy of experiential learning; in particular teh project which includes some aspects of problem based learning strategy (Delahaye)

Design Studio education accommodates three types of learning:

  • learning about design (the development of knowledge),
  • learning to design (the development and application of skills) (Schon, 1984), and
  • learning to become an architect (the transformative pedagogy in which learning is identified as changing as a person) (Dutton, 1987).

The studio provides an environment that facilitates all of these learning scenarios by
embodying a theory of ‘teaching as making leaning possible’ and allowing academics to work ‘cooperatively with learners to help them change their understanding’ (Ramsden, 2003, p. 110) (extract from Crowther)



Bachman, C., & Bachman, L. (2010). Self-identity, rationalisation and cognitive dissonance in undergraduate architectural design learning. arq: Architectural Research Quarterly, 13.2(4), 315-322. ISBN: 9780521537643

Crowther, Ph., 2013, ‘Understanding the signature pedagogy of the design studio and the opportunities for its technological enhancement’, in Journal of Learning Design, Vol. 6, No 3, pp. 18-28

Stevens, G., 1998, ‘The Favored Circle: the social foundations of architectural distinction‘, Cambridge: MIT press.

Image available here

BS Integration, Part II_Leonard Bachman’s perspective

museum of flight

Contemporary architecture of the last three decades took a postmodern turn in a mostly pluralistic quest for formal complexity and theoretical abstraction. Giving over the sophistication of technical systems to other members of the building team, designers became increasingly limited to “six inches of architecture wrapped around an optimized set of systems.”

Gradually however,  five dominant trends have brought holistic treatment back into the limelight of architectural thinking:

  • From handmade building to kit of parts: after the Sydney Opera House and the Kimbell Art Museum, economy, precision, speed, and prefabrication
  • From formal to technical constraints: advances in science and technology, emphemeralization and technophilia versus Frankenstein and technophobia, condensation of technical timeframes: Chartres Cathedral versus Lloyds of London
  • From structural to environmental issues: Levine and Weeks (1984): temple to castle to cathedral to palace to factory to high-rise to laboratory.
  • From intuitive to optimized design decisions: Christopher Alexander and Notes on the Synthesis of Form (1964)
  • From monumental to sustainable goals: Paleotechnic to Neotechnic (Geddes, 1915; Lyle, 1994)

For Bachman exists a intercomplementary duet of architectural intention and systems thinking. “Design begins with philosophical constructs about what a building could be in its highest realization” he says, considering formative intention “what distinguishes critical architecture from functionally commodius but common buildings”.

Integration on the other hand introduces for Bachman “a holistic management ethic”. He says: “this ethic takes the form of systems thinking in networked flows of people, information, energy, and materials”.

To prove his point Bachman makes a reference to Ibsen Nelson’s Museum of Flight in Seattle. The design originated from the idea to exhibit planes as if they were in fligh. Nelson departed from this idea and went on to design the steel trusses, the glass facades and the solar defense. “Selection and deployment of the museum systems had to address the critical technical issues and simultaneously satisfy the design intent” says Bachman, “so integration was inherent in each decision”.

Finally, Bachman summarizes the deisgn process as follows:

  • Program: client, brief, budget, site, code, climate, all the givens
  • Intent: philosophy, team, intentions
  • Critical technical issues: inherent (typological), contextual, intentional
  • Appropriate systems: precedent (typology, formal, technical…), performance specifications, site, structure, envelope, services, and interiors
  • Beneficial integrations: shared space (physical), shared mimage (visual), shared mandates (performance).



Bachman, L., ‘A Design Paradigm for Integrated Building Systems’, American Society of Civil Engineers, Proceedings of Building Integration Solutions Conference, Austin, September 2003. DOI: 10.1061/40699(2003)34

Image: Museum of Flight, 1979, Ibsen Nelson, available here


Joan Ockman on what is transforming architectural education


  • Globalism: the field has widened and also opened to remote places
  • The widening of disciplinary boundaries: the rise of the postcolonial studies and by the impact of environmentalism
  • Acceleration of historicity: boundaries between architectural criticism and architectural history have become blurred, there exist new approaches to periodisation.
  • Effects of new technologies and media: convenient access to knowledge is a time saver but also sth that makes us lazier.



Ockman, J., Progressive Learning, the Architectural Review, full article available here

Image available here or here

Building Systems Integration in the Design Studio

Building Systems Integration (BSI) theory provides an informative method of understanding the role and assembly of technology in buildings. Architectural projects are categorized into four distinctive systems:

  • envelope,
  • structure,
  • mechanical and
  • interior

Furthermore, Rush (1986) has stated that the four systems have five distinctive attributes in how they relate to one another. A system and its technology have several levels of integration that can either be;

  • remote,
  • touching,
  • connected,
  • unified or meshed with each other.

Ham et al. present the reader with an experiment of integration of BS to an architectural design course of the Deakin University in collaboration with Hong Kong. Yet, unfortunately, little is said apart from the fact that lectures on BSI are presented to the students through youtube. I wish there was more information about the actual transmission and how that enabled students to be more involved sin the process.



Ham, J.J., Luther, M.B., Schnabel, M. A., 2013, in M. A. Schnabel (ed.),  Cutting Edge: 47th International Conference of the Architectural Science Association, The Architectural Science Association (ANZAScA), Australia, pp. 71–80.

Rush, R., 1986, ‘Building Systems Integration Handbook’, John Wiley & Sons: New York.

The Five-Stage-Model: Gilly Salmon


For online learning to be successful and happy, participants need to be supported through a structured developmental process. The five-stage-model provides a framework or scaffold for a structured and paced programme of e-tivities.
The five-stage-model offers essential support and development to participants at each stage as they build up expertise in learning online.


For more from Gilly Salmon, visit http://www.gillysalmon.com/five-stage-model.html

Define ‘blended’ PART I

BLENDED LEARNING_EDUCAUSEBLENDKIT_Blended courses (also known as hybrid or mixed-mode courses) are classes where a portion of the traditional face-to-face instruction is replaced by web-based online learning.

OLC_a course where 30%-70% of the instruction is delivered online

EDUCAUSE_Blended learning mixes F2F and non-F2F activities, some performed synchronously, some asynchronously. As such, blended learning provides the flexibility to address a broad range of curricular and institutional needs, opportunities, and goals. For more click here

Abrams & Haefner, 2002; Bender 2006_Combines personal interaction from live class sessions with online education for greater learning flexibility (Bender, Vredevoogd, 2006)

MIT (J. Pankin, J. Roberts, M. Savio, 2012)_We define blended learning as structured
opportunities to learn, which use more than one learning or training method, inside or outside the classroom.

KINEO_The Oxford Group_2013&2014_Blended learning is the seamless integration of online and offline learning methods. These methods can be formal and informal in the way they are created or accessed.

RYERSON UNIVERSITY_2012_No definition, just methodology description




Abrams, G. & Haefner, J., 2002, ‘Blending online and traditional instruction in the mathematics classroom’, in The Technology Source, available here

Bender, D. M., & Vredevoogd, J. D. (2006). ‘Using Online Education Technologies to Support Studio Instruction’, Educational Technology & Society, 9 (4), 114-122.

Pankin, J., Roberts, J., Savio, M., 2012, ‘Blended Learning at MIT’, available here

Thompson, K., ‘Undwerstanding Blended Learning’, available here