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M. Zingoni

Arizona State University (UNITED STATES)
Due to the recession of the last five years that impacted hard the design disciplines, the way of acquiring projects has to change and now more than never it is vital to educate the public about the value of the profession. We are witnessing an era of cultural and social change. These new generation of students are change makers and the challenge for academics is to find the right intersection between teaching and community to empower both for social change.

The studio challenged students to collectively identify the problem/s within a community and propose a potential solution through design. The studio was introduced as a social problem due to the lack of identity and cultural heritage in the community of Little Mexico and as environmental problem for its isolation in regards to its context and the lack of infrastructure. The methodology applied was a “practice oriented design” studio using studio based learning and a real problem as the foundation understanding that this combination would enhance studio learning because of the impact of intraprofessional experience on student learning and their ability to generate holistic and resourceful solutions (Shraiky & Lamb, 2012). The result is a win-win studio that empowers students to become social changers, with experience in the real world of the profession, and an engaged community that understands the value of design and its process. After the semester finished students had the opportunity to integrate practice and education through the continuation of the studio work during a six week internship in a national firm to develop the project further.

The studio was introduced using Studio Based Learning (SBL) methodology with the incorporation of Community Users (SBLCU) and merged during a six week internship to a Team –Based learning (TBL) in an intra and interprofessional environment with students, faculty and professionals. The studio performed as a process, a way of thinking during which the many elements, possibilities, and constrains of architectural knowledge were integrated. “At its best the design studio sequence provides the connective tissue that brings together, progressively, the many elements of architecture education.” (Boyer and Mitgang, 1996, 85-86) The later integration of practice in the project changed again the format of the teaching methodology by having students working collaboratively with design practitioners using a TBL approach that emphasized the application of concepts learn prior coming to the office. Having students exposed to an office with practitioners from disciplines from Architecture, Interior Design and Structural engineer allowed them to experience first hand an Interprofessional collaboration as a vehicle for developing new and innovative solutions to complex problems. Practice often unites individuals who represent diverse disciplines as well as encourages exploration and development for new frameworks and methodologies for problem solving (Brown, Harris, &Russell, 2010).

Nowadays it is normal to run a studio with a real project, however the challenge here was how to engage the public, the real users, in the discussion and design process and how to develop a model of integrating practice, education and community partnering.