B. Espigares Rooney1, P. Gimena Córdoba2

1Universidad de Granada (SPAIN)
2Universidad de Sevilla (SPAIN)
Architecture is a practice that involves combining both technical and humanistic knowledge in order to create a project. The designing process is the main key around which the architectural education and professional practice focus on. It integrates the freedom of the creative work and the critical awareness, apart from a continuous contrast between intellectual, instinctive and creative skills. The 21st century architect is one that exchanges ideas and different points of view with diverse academic disciplines during the process of a project. This methodology generates a large amount of resources to work with, all of which need to be crosschecked and evaluated so as to maintain a holistic look. The information management is essential for the smooth running process, because a project is normally a long-term assignment; sometimes taking a few years or more to become a reality.

Design studios are subjects with the aim of training the students in this process. The accurate knowledge and information gained during the different steps of the project needs to be reflected in the project ideas, drawings and plans. Usually, the main difference between a mediocre and a brilliant project is, and of substantial proportion, due to the management of information.

Nowadays, knowledge does not flow in only one direction, and web 2.0 provides students with a large amount of digital information. Currently, between physical and digital material, the organizing task is a big problem to be solved. From the beginning, we think that students must learn an effective method for arranging and managing project materials and information.

In order to overcome this dilemma, we are proposing the use of a tool called Zotero. We have chosen this program between the rest of the available ones, because it is a free online application and very easy to use in the web browser. It allows us to collect and easily organize our research sources and to use it beyond the usual bibliographic management. In recent years, Zotero has allowed to store digital sources, no matter the file extension, arrange by labels and interrelate with other filed information. The items to be included can be web pages, bloggers articles, scientific articles, books, videos, pictures, sound files, or any kind of files. We can even create groups in order to share resources, all of which have been proved to be very useful during the beginning steps of a project or a research.

We encourage the students at the beginning of the semester to use it and share their research information and sources about the city or the place where we are working in class. They learn how to process and categorize all incoming information, which is easily accessible for later use when preparing reports, posters or plans. We really think that this method is extremely beneficial for the students and their training, not only in our field. This method can be exported to other academic disciplines and can help students and researchers to manage all kind of resources using Zotero as an easy application which can be a very powerful tool rather than just a bibliographic manager, as we are used to think about it.