THE ROLE OF ABSTRACTION IN DESIGN TEACHING; RELEVANCE, APPROACH AND EXPERIENCES
Delft University of Technology, Faculty of Architecture (NETHERLANDS)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2009 Proceedings
Publication year: 2009
Conference name: 3rd International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 9-11 March, 2009
Location: Valencia, Spain
Abstract:In this paper we want to share some of our experiences with the teaching of abstraction in design education at the Master's level. Key problem is the didactic approach; how to make clear that abstraction is important and how to teach it? Abstraction not only plays a key role in scientific disciplines, it is equally important in design disciplines. This will not be disputed by many, the way it can be taught and integrated in the teaching of design is a different issue.
In the teaching of a MSc-course on 'Visualisation in urban design and landscape architecture' at the Faculty of Architecture in Delft University of Technology, we have experimented with different approaches over the last five years and have now come to a teaching approach that offers new perspectives both from a teaching point of view and in the experience of students.
One of the difficulties in abstraction is to convey first of all to students why it is important and what can be the use of it in their study and future work. A second problem is to find ways to teach it, both to develop insight in the phenomena and its role in design but also to let students discover their own capacities in this context.
The course is a relatively small course (3 ECTS) that is taught over a period of seven weeks. The basic structure of the course is simple; seven weeks, with every week a different subject and all subjects according to the same outline. Every week follows the same basic structure of lecture, exercises in the studio, and assignments for homework. We introduce diagrams as an important means for abstraction. Diagrams in various sorts, play a key role in abstraction in design disciplines.
In the paper we have worked out some examples of exercises and our experiences so far. We have the impression that we now have a fruitful approach for the given conditions of such a course. In the sparse literature on the subject, we have also found interesting support and relations.
The conclusion is that developing this type of insight in a context of design education can only be achieved by exercises and experiments that are discussed and shown in the studio. In other words 'learning by doing'. Since this is Master's level, students can learn quite a bit from their fellow students; especially in this case since many of them tend to have very different backgrounds. One of the key issues of gaining insight is to teach it in a way that students are starting to discover their own capacities, possibilities and competences.
Keywords: landscape architecture, urban design, abstraction, design teaching, visualisation, design knowledge.