About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 2385-2393
Publication year: 2009
ISBN: 978-84-612-9801-3
ISSN: 2340-1117

Conference name: 1st International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 6-8 July, 2009
Location: Barcelona ,Spain

ENHANCING LEARNING AND THE UNDERGRADUATE EXPERIENCE: ARCHITECTURAL EDUCATION ON "THE LOW ROAD"

H. Herrmann

Mississippi State University (UNITED STATES)
This is a case for the beginning design student’s freedom of inquiry in a digital environment. Steward Brand, in his book titled “How Buildings Learn,” wrote of a building type he dubbed the “Low Road Building”. This building type could be understood as a building without the requisite quality of design or integrity of form needed to prevent its user’s appropriation and/or mutilation in the agency of new and expanded forms of occupation. As our society shifts from an analog mode of production to one of digital means, we find our entry-level university students bring with them a new outlook on design and crafting. These students come equipped with knowledge of digital tools, in some cases beyond the knowledge of their faculty, and a new interpretation of how things are designed and crafted. The digital environment presents to the innocent design student a safe zone to explore ideas and methods of making, seemingly devoid of repercussion and consequence. The conflict occurs when this virtual world and the traditional analog based means of educational exploration collide in the beginning design studios of architectural education.

Students are entering higher education with an increased confidence and ability to work and think digitally which reciprocally has limited their ability and desire for thinking and producing via the traditional means. Furthermore many students enter into the discipline with images of seductive computer rendered buildings and dramatic “Blob-Form” experimental architecture as the predominate artifacts of contemporary architectural education. A disconnect occurs precisely here, at the point of emersion in architectural education, where prior educational pedagogy has abandoned them. Beginning design students are asked to think and create with means of production as foreign to them as the introduction of a personal computer would have been to Albert Einstein’s work. The use of manual means of architectural study, i.e. hand drawing and drafting, model making, painting, etc., present a formidable challenge to the naïve design student. The notion of having no separation or level of abstraction from their work, no UNDO button, the inability to start again with full erasure of the past, is a freighting experience for the beginning student. The design disciplines are rooted in education and making through iteration and reflective remaking of things. When the student is confronted with a need for concern over their past production and its bearing on the future of their work, many recoil choosing instead to work within hard knowledge domains, outside the design disciplines.

Where this proposal for a recalibration of design education pedagogy finds root is in the use of digital technology as a mediating tool for the beginning design student. As evidenced by the work of a second year architectural design studio, when allowed to incorporate the student described “more forgiving” nature of the digital work environment with traditional manually produced artifacts, students find opportunity for what may be considered “Inquisitive Play”. In this, the notion of the “Low Road Building” returns in its depiction of an environment where anything goes without fear of repercussion. The freedom to undo/redo, presents a liminal zone for meaningful architectural investigation. The composite method of design and making leverages an opening for new models of architectural expression to be explored.

@InProceedings{HERRMANN2009ENH,
author = {Herrmann, H.},
title = {ENHANCING LEARNING AND THE UNDERGRADUATE EXPERIENCE: ARCHITECTURAL EDUCATION ON "THE LOW ROAD"},
series = {1st International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies},
booktitle = {EDULEARN09 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-612-9801-3},
issn = {2340-1117},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Barcelona ,Spain},
month = {6-8 July, 2009},
year = {2009},
pages = {2385-2393}}
TY - CONF
AU - H. Herrmann
TI - ENHANCING LEARNING AND THE UNDERGRADUATE EXPERIENCE: ARCHITECTURAL EDUCATION ON "THE LOW ROAD"
SN - 978-84-612-9801-3/2340-1117
PY - 2009
Y1 - 6-8 July, 2009
CI - Barcelona ,Spain
JO - 1st International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
JA - EDULEARN09 Proceedings
SP - 2385
EP - 2393
ER -
H. Herrmann (2009) ENHANCING LEARNING AND THE UNDERGRADUATE EXPERIENCE: ARCHITECTURAL EDUCATION ON "THE LOW ROAD", EDULEARN09 Proceedings, pp. 2385-2393.
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