The many faces of sustainability

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Sustainability is referred to as related to…

  • energy efficient high-tech, low-tech, or vernacular strategies
  • health, well-being, and quality of life issues
  • an analogy to natural forms or from processes in natural systems
  • performance over appearance
  • appearance over performance
  • intelligent and responsive materials, renewable, recyclable, biodegradable
  • sensory perception
  • resilience and circular economy
  • not building at all and instead promote virtualization
  • ecological footprinting and consumerist lifestyles
  • best practice guidelines, assessment methods

All above-mentioned concepts are context-specific and inevitably contested. Enacting and translating sustainability in arch design practices can occur in different stages of the design/build process:

  • during the design brief phase that defines the sustainability targets: translating the concept of sustainability into design practices, recognizing the controversial issues to tackle/ those is in charge of giving directions should ask those bidding to work on giving meaning to these goals
  • when analyzing the ways in which design strategies are constructed between the distinct vocational design actors
  • when establishing supposed equivalences between projected and actual design

References

Schröder, T. (2018). Giving meaning to the concept of sustainability in architectural design practices: Setting out the analytical framework of translation. Sustainability10(6), 1-15. [1710]. DOI: 10.3390/su10061710

The value of detailed maps at the neighborhood level

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The author claims the need of a systematic approach “that brings together the design of built environments with the best scientific knowledge of processes of change in complex natural and social systems.” Urban planning must work within these systems that require local info (through participatory practices) and the creation of technical solutions. He thinks the challenge is mapping informality as cities grow in unpredictable ways. He also claims that cities are about connections: “the socioeconomic and physical links that allow each one of us to make a living, obtain services that make our lives easier, and learn and invest our time and resources.”

The effects of connections can be traced as the concentration of social networks in space and time where the value of a group is not proportional to the group’s numbers, but to its interactions. GPS tracking, and smart phone technologies can help track the networks.

New methods from urban science allow the accelerated evolution of these neighborhoods to follow natural urban processes. They are based in part on the mathematical analysis of detailed maps, including the development of algorithms to optimize building access, delivery of services, formalization of land, and taxation, with minimal disturbance and cost.

Planning through the development of detailed maps at the neighborhood level is also an effective way to capture local, person-centric knowledge, providing a clear vehicle for better local politics via the coordination of priorities and action from communities, local governments, and other stakeholders. The convergence of a networked science of cities, quantitative methods of spatial analysis, and information technology tools is key to allow users to participate.

Full text available here

Luís M. A. Bettencourt (2019) Designing for Complexity: The Challenge to Spatial Design from Sustainable Human Development in Cities Technology|Architecture + Design, 3:1, 24-32, DOI: 10.1080/24751448.2019.1571793

Theory of Man-Environment Relations, by Irwin Altman

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”

 

References

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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Clinical-Applied-Basic Research

DESIGN RESEARCH FRANKEL-RACINE

Clinical_FOR DESIGN RESEARCH: focuses on design problems that are specific and individual cases requiring information for that unique situation/ primarily prescriptive research methods for specific and feasible design solutions (Downton)/ Notably, research for design is the category of research that most practitioners and many academics associate with the term “Design Research”/ Many of the methods briefly mentioned in this section could generate findings that are relevant beyond the scope of one clinical situation, but often they are inadequately developed in practice.

Applied_THROUGH DESIGN RESEARCH: focuses on investigating general classes of design problems or products. The common trait of applied research is the [systematic] attempt to gather from many individual cases a hypothesis or several hypotheses that may explain how a class of products takes place/ The most important aspect of research through design is that it seeks to provide an explanation or theory within a broader context/ Buchanan calls it Dialectic Science or Productive Science and includes the study of form and function in relation to human activity, as well as the study of materials/ it is derived from and valuable for practice; it is growing rapidly; both practitioners and researchers are contributing significantly to the literature and on-line discussions; the discussion is extensive, addressing hundreds of approaches; and much of the subject matter has been derived from the social sciences, business, and marketing/ In her evolving map of design research methods, Sanders represents the range of attitudes towards human-oriented design, from the expert mindset and the participatory mindset, in both research-led and design-led inquiries/

Basic_ABOUT DESIGN RESEARCH: research about or into design as the work that is “carried out under the heading of other disciplines/ searching for “an explanation in the experience of designers and those who use products”/ designers may also raise questions that are not characteristic of other disciplines because often the answers are translated into form, colour, and the objects that surround us. This affords practitioners, students, and educators with the challenge to produce discipline specific knowledge that may be communicated by drawings, sketches, models, and other visual representations embodying non-verbal codes or messages as well

 

References

Frankel, L., Racine, M., 2010. The Complex Field of Research: for Design, through Design, and about Design.  Paper presented at the International Conference of the Design Research Society, Montréal, July 2010.

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Roggema’s three-staged method

ROGGEMA

Roggema merges the understandings of Jonas, Millburn & Brown, Hauberg, Basballe & Halskov and Lima et al. to produce a series of diagrams indicative of the research by design process:

  • According to Jonas there is a fundamental distinction between analysis(the way things are)/ projection (how things could be)/ synthesis (how things will be)
  • According to Millburn & Brown there are five models that explain distinct approaches of incorporating research into design: artistic, intuitive, adaptive, analytical and systematic. They all have a pre-design phase that resembles the analytical  one mentioned earlier.
  • According to Lima et al. research by design should demonstrate a question to be addressed. Projection then becomes the phase when adequate answers are sought using non-textual artifacts. The final stage synthesis brings forward the outcomes of the research, but also a knowledge transfer with a wider impact
  • According to Hauberg, first stage focuses on perceptions and investigation; second phase to program/proposals and rationalization and the third phase to communication.
  • According to Basballe and Halskov there is a coupling in the first stage that unites research and design interests/ in the second there is an interweaving as they influence each other/ decoupling appears during the production phase and final evaluation

More available here

 

References

Roggema, R., 2017. Research by design: Proposition for a Methodological Approach. In Urban Sci Vol. 1, no. 2; doi:10.3390/urbansci1010002

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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

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References

  • 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

RESEARCH-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)

 

References

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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