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Grounding the curriculum: learning from live projects in architectural education

By Kathleen Watt and Derek Cottrell


Abstract: For more than twenty years architects in the UK have advocated the use of ‘live’ projects in architecture schools as an alternative to the more traditional model of studio learning, but the educational establishment continues to marginalize community-based approaches to learning. Recent debate, focusing on shortcomings of the studio culture in architectural education, has condemned the isolation of students from real world contexts and teaching methods that cultivate values of individualism and competition. As an alternative, many claims have been made about the potential for enhancing student learning by adopting live briefs and involving clients and users in the education of architects. Yet much of the literature\ud remains largely speculative or descriptive and so far has neglected to investigate participatory design processes to determine their precise pedagogic value. The aims of this paper are to examine the nature of learning in student projects outside the studio environment, to locate that learning within a range of categories of learning, and to develop a conceptual structure for further exploration of alternative pedagogies in architectural education. The study is based on evaluations of two participatory\ud design projects carried out with students at Lincoln School of Architecture in the UK. Students’ perceptions of the\ud learning they acquired are compared with the intended learning outcomes identified by tutors at the start of the projects, and these are further contrasted with the ‘competencies’ that are typical outcomes of the traditional curriculum. The findings, which reveal significant contingent and emergent learning in the live projects, are then discussed in relation to recognized\ud theories of learning, such as experiential learning, social constructionism, situated learning and collaborative learning. The objective is to identify an appropriate theoretical framework that may be used to draw attention to the valuable contribution of live project learning in architectural education and support arguments in favour of a more expansive and socially grounded architecture curriculum

Topics: K990 Architecture, Building and Planning not elsewhere classified
Publisher: Common Ground
Year: 2006
OAI identifier:

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