Studio One

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(…) alternative teaching model called Studio One (Offered at University of California (UC) Berkeley’s Department of Architecture in the College of Environmental Design), which seeks to facilitate new dynamic links between architecture and other disciplines based on the interplay between fundamental research, design exploration, and practical application (…) At the core of this class is the study of biological structures and the development of bio-inspired construction principles for architectural design(…) he curriculum itself is designed to mediate between education and research. Aside from gaining basic knowledge within their own fields, the students also gain experience outside of their comfort zones by learning from other disciplines (…) In the first semester, students work individually or in small groups. In the second semester, the students join forces and build one project together as a team (…) the class is also supported by a wide network of academic research institutions as well as professionals inside and outside the building industry (…) With its partners, Studio One is contributing to a newly-formed, campus-wide teaching and research initiative called Design Innovation from Nature (…) the key idea behind biomimetics or bio-inspiration is not the imitation of natural forms and shapes but the transfer of functional principles to technological applications (…) To implement these biomimetic concepts, the students approached the work in the class from two directions as defined (…) The first, called “biology push”, relates to a bottom-up approach. The second is referred to as “technology pull” and describes a top-down process. While the term “biology push” describes a development that is initiated from basic knowledge in biology, “technology pull” refers to the aim of solving a certain technical problem in order to improve an already existing design solution or process.

Students worked on 4 separate case studies drawing from the study of natural forms: an Insect-Inspired Lightweight Facade; a Plant-Inspired Kinetic Facade Shading System and two research pavilions (2017, 2018)

Schleicher, S., Kontominas, G., Makker, T., Tatli, I. & Yavaribajestani, Y. (2019). Studio One: A New Teaching Model for Exploring Bio-Inspired Design and Fabrication. In Biomimetics (Basel) 4(2), 34. doi: 10.3390/biomimetics4020034

The Circular Economy Concept in Design Education

This is an experiment in the framework TU Delft led Horizon 2020 Project called REPAiR: two MSc courses were transformed to integrate aspects of different fields of expertise. Students were introduced to two resource flows that were previously identified as key flows by the local stakeholders: food waste, and construction and demolition waste and were expected to show a deep understanding of CE and its spatial implications

(…) incorporating the concept of CE in an integrative manner in urban design and planning courses is challenging because of its metabolic and complex nature (…) (1) the city is a complex, self-organizing system, where economy is an important factor, but not the dominant one; (2) the focus of CE approaches on the production side of the value chain and the under-representation of the need for sustainable consumption patterns as crucial aspect for the transition towards a CE; (3) the exclusion of land as a resource although it is one of the most valuable resources of regions; (4) the neglecting of infrastructure, both as a resource, but also as an instrument to steer circular policies; and (5) that the dominant approach ignores the importance of different scales for closing resource loops (…) overcoming these inadequacies requires the integration of expertise on resource flows and industrial processes.

Challenges of integrating practices of circular economy in education were overcome by collaboration with researchers in a situated environment that allowed: “an enhanced problem definition, a substantial participation of societal partners in education and an enhanced valorisation of student work via partner institutes.” Supporting course elements were also integrated such as lectures; workshops and tutor preparation. An overall of 200 students participated in the courses whose work was later evaluated as to the integration of CE principles and resources flows.

One clear effect of the integration of the CE concept into teaching was that the students understood that they needed to address challenges from a systemic perspective rather early into the design process.

References: Wandl, Alexander, Verena Balz, Lei Qu, Cecilia Furlan, Gustavo Arciniegas and Ulf Hackauf. “The Circular Economy Concept in Design Education: Enhancing Understanding and Innovation by Means of Situated Learning.” Urban Planning 4, no. 3, (2019): 63-75. DOI: 10.17645/up.v4i3.2147, 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.

MYOM: Make your own Masters

This is something I bumped into today and I am really, really impressed. This woman has indeed re-conceptualized design education in such a simple and subtle way that makes me wonder, why didn’t anyone think of this before. Genius, bravo!

Stacie Woolsey approached four practising designers she admired: Thomas Thwaites, Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg, Seetal Solanki and a contact at Room Y, the innovation arm of UK department store John Lewis. She asked each of them to set her design briefs to complete in her own time – an idea she describes as “freelance learning” – and completed all four briefs over 18 months of self-directed study (…) Woolsey didn’t feel that she could burden the designers with every question, so she started approaching industry professionals with different skills and asked them to be mentors, for project-specific help. She built her own network of peers – one of the benefits of attending an established institution – by approaching people her age across a variety of fields and asking them to follow her progress and be her first port of call. She hosted meetings as a way to set deadlines and present her projects (…) Rather than try to get her course of study accredited, which “felt a bit irrelevant” and would be “almost cheating on the idea a little bit”, Woolsey searched for a means to “validate it in a different way”. Instead, each of the designers who set briefs are writing a statement to say how well they think she answered it – more like a reference than a grade.

Dezeen: Stacie Woolsey creates her own masters course as “viable alternative” to design education

The designer is exhibiting the results in a “degree show” she named Make Your Own Masters, which opens this week at Somerset House in London.



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

Image available here

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

Theory of Man-Environment Relations, by Irwin Altman


Four philosophical models of the human:

  1. mechanistic model: the human as a task-oriented organism, understood and described only in relation to the task at hand/ human as a passive agent merely enacting the designer’s plan of use and having no agency
  2. perceptual-cognitive-motivational model: the human as an ‘internal processing organism’ with subjective traits
  3. behaviorist model: this focused on external human actions in the environment instead of internal thoughts and feelings and intentions. (it does not identify however with Skinner’s operant psychology)/ Altman classifies here all action-centric and interactionalist descriptions of human engagements with the environment without excluding intentions and motivational states
  4. ecological model: declared human behavior and environment a mutually constituting, dynamic ensemble/ Behavior itself, in other words, resided in the relation between the human and social and material contexts/ this model promoted an agentive understanding of the human/ Altman also emphasized its model’s utility for establishing a common ground among social scientists and designers thus cultivating the conditions of interdisciplinary collaboration/ it offered a reconciliatory mechanism between the unit and the whole, the small and the large scale, analysis and synthesis, thus urging scientists and practitioners to “surpass the provincialism of their parent professions”



Vardouli, Th., 2016. User Design: Constructions of the “user” in the history of design research. In 2016 Design Research Society 50th Anniversary Conference, 27-30 June 2016, Brighton, UK

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Integral approach to education

Four QUADRANTS: behaviors (reading, writing etc)/ experiences (imagination, intuition, insights) / cultures (shared meaning, group values) / systems (program curriculum, rubrics, policies). They can also be seen as the various modes of interaction and ways of knowing the world


twelve commitments of IE


twelve ways of knowing

Four LEVELS: four general levels of altitude that occur in each of the quadrants (traditional, modern, postmodern, integral)


Wilber’s color chart

It is important for Integral educators to continually ask themselves how to teach in a way that could help their students transform vertically toward post-rational modes of being.

Kegan: five developmental levels: 2-6, 6-teens and teens & beyond, self-authoring, integral (being able to synthesize many different value systems)

Four LINES: While there are lines of development in all the quadrants, there are at least four main developmental lines within an individual’s interior that Integral Education should take into consideration: cognitive (objective reals, sensory input, perspective talking, interconnections between phenomena), emotional (subjective realm, feelings and impulses, sensations, phenomenological awareness), moral (intersubjective realm, interpersonal obligations, duty, compassion), and kinesthetic (somatic and physical realm, physical sensations, hand-eye coordination, bodily movement)

Four STATES: By working actively with various states, the transformative space of the classroom can be increased dramatically. gross-waking states that take physical reality as its object; subtle-dream states that takes the subtle realm as its object; causal-formless states that takes vast openness as its object. The fourth category is witnessing states, which can take any state as its object and witness it

Four TYPESsensory styles of learning/ personality styles of learning/ gender styles of learning/ preferred narrative styles of writing



Esbjörn-Hargens, S., 2007. Integral Teacher, Integral Students, Integral Classroom: Applying Integral Theory to Education. In AQAL: Journal of Integral Theory and Practice Vol 2, No. 2., pp. 72-103.

Image 01 available here, Image 02 available here, Image 03 available here