Hailed as one of “50 Great Teachers” by NPR, ivy-league architecture professor Diana Agrest’s out-of-the-box teaching methods have brought her to the forefront of studio academia. A testament to her instruction, her students have gone on to attain some of the most prestigious awards for creative pursuits, including the Pritzker Prize and the MacArthur “genius grant.” With her belief that architects’ work should be informed by multiple disciplines, Agrest has developed a teaching style to push the boundaries of traditional studio culture and challenge her students to explore the built environment through various lenses, particularly film. Read NPR’s full article on Agrest, here.
In the debate about how architects – both present and future – represent our ideas, it is easy to find a lot of articles supporting both sides. One can read as many arguments as they want and find valid points supporting both hand-drawing and computer production. One could argue that there is nothing prettier than a well done hand-rendering of a project. Another could say that, although hand-drawing is something that catches the eye, it is not practical at all, takes longer than doing it on the computer and does not allow architects to easily modify it.
There is however another facet that does not come up as frequently as it maybe should: how does this discussion affect students? I believe we lie in a cross-fire, between the idea of what architects do and what they actually do.
Nearly three weeks ago, the editors at ArchDaily reached out to our readers to help us investigate one of the most difficult challenges of architecture education: what do students and teachers think of the 24-hour studio culture that has come to pervade the architecture profession? As we mentioned in our original post, the idea that all-nighters are simply an unavoidable part of an education in architecture has come under fire recently, with some schools attempting to combat them by closing their studios overnight. Is this the right approach to reducing the hours that students are (over)working? If not, what should be done instead? Perhaps there are some people that still think a 24-hour culture can be beneficial to young architects?
The response we got to our question was astonishing, with 141 comments on the article itself and over 100 more on our Facebook post. From this discussion, two overriding themes emerged: firstly, many commenters seemed to believe that architecture students have too much work in the first place; secondly, there was almost complete consensus that closing the studios achieves nothing but moving the problem of all-nighters from the studio to students’ homes. For the sake of brevity we’ve chosen not to include the many responses that mention these themes ideas in this post, but for anyone interested in seeing the evidence of these opinions, we encourage you to visit the original article.
As for the remainder of the comments, we’ve rounded up some of the most interesting contributions. Find out what 15 commenters had to say about the 24-hour studio culture – taking in arguments for and against it as well as discussing its wider consequences and ways to avoid it – after the break.
A shortened version of this article by ArchDaily’s Managing Editor Rory Stott appears in HW 1-5, a book by the organizers of Hello Wood about the camp’s first five years.
Arriving at Budapest’s international airport on a warm Saturday in July, I confess to being unprepared for my week ahead at Hello Wood 2014. Hungary was the third country and Budapest the fourth city I had been in in 72 hours, and thanks to this (uncharacteristically) chaotic week, I hadn’t had the chance to research anything about the camp. All I knew was what could be learned from the photos of the 2013 camp which I had published almost a year earlier: that is, that the camp is held in an idyllic rural setting, presumably a significant distance from Budapest; and that the quality of work seems unusually high for a week-long architecture workshop, presumably indicating a serious, focused atmosphere at the camp.
The first of these assumptions was absolutely right. But the second could hardly be more wrong. In fact the atmosphere at the camp was so far from being serious that by Tuesday, Gábor Betegh – a friend of the organizers and coincidentally Cambridge University’s new Laurence Professor of Ancient Philosophy - told me how fascinating it was to compare the “centripetal madness” of the philosophers he knows to the “very centrifugal madness” of the architects at the camp. This remark was made in response to one of the team leaders screeching like a monkey from the top of his team’s half-completed tower.
From Vitruvius to Le Corbusier, words and writing have always played an essential role in architectural discourse. One could argue that crafting words is akin to orchestrating space: indeed, history’s most notable architects and designers are often remembered for their written philosophies as much as they are for their built works.
With the exception of a few of architecture’s biggest names, the majority of practicing architects no longer exploit the inherent value writing offers as a means for spatial and theoretical communication. This trend is exacerbated by the fact that many architectural schools place little emphasis on the once-primary subjects of history and literature, resulting in a generation of architects who struggle to articulate their ideas in words, resulting in an ever-growing proliferation of ill-defined “archispeak.”
LOBBY is an attempt from students of London’s Bartlett School of Architecture to reclaim the potency of the written word, presenting in their second issue an ambitious array of in-house research and external contributions. The theme is Clairvoyance, and the journal seeks to investigate the ways in which architects are forced to constantly grapple with the possibilities and uncertainties of designing spaces that exist in the intangible realm of the world-to-be.
— RIBA Education (@RIBAEducation) March 24, 2015
Exactly one year ago an important event took place. A gathering of seventy student delegates, organised by the Architecture Students Network (ASN), met to discuss the future of architectural education. Their meeting was sparked by the latest directive from the European Union which seeks to “establish more uniformity across Europe by aligning the time it takes to qualify”, making mutual recognition of the architect’s title easier between countries.
The ASN’s discussions concluded that the course content throughout the UK system of ‘Part I, II, and III’, and the duration of said course, urgently needs to be re-evaluated in order to reflect the changing needs of the profession – especially in light of the recent rise in tuition fees and associated university costs. Back then, a spokesperson for the ASN said that “it really felt like momentum for change has finally reached a tipping point.”
Launched in May of 2014, ThinkParametric is an online platform for learning the tools of the digital architecture trade. Gaining access to their video tutorials and the benefit of their online community would usually set you back $29 per month, or $269 for an entire year. However, to celebrate a successful first year, on March 12th they announced an “Open Class Season,” a full month for people to enjoy their courses for free.
The courses offered include:
- Basic courses in Rhino, Grasshopper and Revit (the leading software for 3-D modeling, parametric modeling and Building Information Modeling respectively)
- Project-based learning in which you learn how to create projects such as MAD Architects’ Absolute Towers
- And “building blocks,” smaller everyday operations that you will be able to apply to your own projects.
Those who haven’t already signed up for a ThinkParametric account need to act fast, however – the deadline to be able to access the courses for free is this Thursday, the 26th March. Find out more information here.
Update: We have now published our follow-up post featuring a collection of responses from readers. Read it here.
Architecture students have the reputation – perhaps more than any other students – of pulling all-nighters, sometimes disappearing for days at a time into what their non-architect friends come to view as a mysterious and often intimidating place: “The Studio.” However, recently this right to work at any and all hours has come into question, with surveys such as the one by the University of Toronto’s GALDSU highlighting the negative effects of long work hours on students’ physical and mental health. Many schools have now begun closing their buildings overnight to try to combat what is often seen as a negative and damaging culture.
ArchDaily wants to open up this discussion to its readers, who we hope can enlighten us with the nuanced experiences of teachers, professionals, and of course students both past and present. Are long hours and hard work good or bad for aspiring architects? Is closing the studio overnight a positive step to address a damaging culture? Or is it a patronizing restriction placed upon young adults who should be allowed to make their own decisions? Perhaps just as importantly, how does this culture forged at university affect the rest of an architect’s career?
Let us know your thoughts in the comments below. The best answers will be featured in a future article highlighting the pros and cons of 24-hour studio culture.
Thanks to the increasing popularity of massive open online courses — or MOOCs as they’re commonly referred to — learning has never been easier (or more convenient). Sites like Coursera and edX offer free classes online from accredited and well-known universities across the globe, including Harvard, MIT and the University of Hong Kong. While some classes are more structured and include a set lesson plan, homework assignments, quizzes and the option to receive a certificate at the end, others can be set at your own pace and approached more independently.
Following our wildly popular article on Four Ways to Learn About Architecture for Free, we’ve compiled a list of upcoming online classes related to architecture, engineering, urbanism and design. So whether you’re looking to embark on a new topic or dive deeper into an already familiar subject, take a look at these free online courses after the break.
The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has awarded unconditional RIBA Part 1 accreditation to the undergraduate program at Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University (XJTLU) in Suzhou, making it the first Chinese architecture program to be certified by the UK architecture body. The accreditation marks another first for XJTLU’s partner university at Liverpool, which pioneered the RIBA accreditation system by becoming the first certified course in the world in 1906, and officially marks the program at XJTLU as on a par with other architecture schools around the world.
Now, after 130 private screenings in 26 countries, you can watch the official world premiere of Archiculture here on ArchDaily. The 25-minute documentary captures a rare glimpse into studio-based design education, trailing five architecture students throughout their final thesis semester at Brooklyn’s Pratt Institute.
Directed and produced by architect-turned-filmmakers Ian Harris and David Krantz of Arbuckle Industries, the film features exclusive interviews with leading professionals, historians and educators, such as Ken Frampton, Shigeru Ban and Thom Mayne. Since Archiculture completion, a number of schools, institutes and film festivals have hosted screenings of the film in an effort to shed light on the critical issues facing architectural education today.
We invite you to watch the film above, read our exclusive interview with film director Ian Harris, and share your thoughts in the comment section below. You can also join an ongoing online conversation regarding Archiculture on the #Archichat here.
Following the highly anticipated world premiere of Archiculture (watch here!), Arbuckle Industries has now shared with us the first of over 30 never-before-seen full length interviews with some of the industry’s leading practitioners, all discussing the profession and how we are or should be training the next generation of designers.
In this first interview, the directors sit down with architect, critic, author, and historian Kenneth Frampton at Columbia University to discuss whether or not architecture is a luxury and how the profession has been influenced by computerization.
Brian MacKay-Lyons is the founding partner of MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects, a professor at Dalhousie University and the founder of Ghost Lab - the now legendary 2-week summer design/build program that took place on his family farm in Nova Scotia from 1994 to 2011. While relentlessly local, Brian’s work has been recognized internationally with more than 100 awards, 300 publications and 100 exhibitions. In 2012, the American Institute of Architects recognized the collective work and influence of Ghost with an Institute Honor Award for Architecture.
On August 22nd, 2014 Brian hopped off his tractor and wiped the diesel fuel off his hands to discuss architectural education with Keith and Marie Zawistowski, co-founders of the design/buildLAB at Virginia Tech and partners of OnSite Architecture. Here is an excerpt from their conversation, which was originally published on Inform:
Keith Zawistowski: Your contributions to the discipline of architecture have been both in practice and in education. In 1994, you founded Ghost, an international laboratory that influenced all generations of architects with its simplicity and this affirmation of timeless architectural values of place and craft. It was a pretty bold move and it seems for us like it was a direct reaction to your discontentment with academia and the way architects were being educated. Do you still feel that strongly about the state of architecture education and the profession?
Using information collected from the US Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, the Hamilton Project at The Brookings Institution has created a set of interactive infographics comparing the lifetime earning potential of graduates of 80 majors. With so much debate over the earning potential of architects, the tool provides us with an invaluable insight into the long-range outlook for members of our profession, charting the both the total lifetime earnings of architects and their average earnings per year over a 42-year career.
Read on after the break for analysis of what the infographics tell us
Having taught architecture for almost fifty years, Sir Peter Cook has seen generations of architects go from student to high-profile practitioner. In almost half a century, though, architecture education has not particularly moved on: “I don’t see the general situation as being any more progressive than it was when I was a student,” he says.
Cook tells ArchDaily that instead of focusing on curriculum, structure and countless other preoccupations of many schools, “my experience is that doesn’t matter, it depends who’s teaching and how enthusiastic they are and whether they understand people,” adding that “a really good architecture school is like a village,” with tutors who simply don’t go home because they are enjoying it so much (or perhaps for other, less innocent reasons).
In addition, Cook also explains that there is potential for a radical shift in the understanding of architecture education, so that we think of it not only as a route into an architectural career, but rather as a route into a whole host of other jobs. ”I know people who have science degrees but they actually organize railways,” he says. “There’s a role for a wing of architectural education at a certain point to take off and say, ‘that person is never going to design buildings, but a certain form of architectural education can enable them to look at the world in more depth.’”
The Architectural Association Visiting School in Athens, as part of the AI research agenda, has continued its investigations to challenge the static built environment with its 2014 installation entitled Kinetic Haze. The project investigates the possibilities of architectural modeling via scripting, digital fabrication, and large scale installations.
This year’s investigation follows the theme of the previous year’s work entitled Cipher City: Recharged, in which the creation of complex form-making systems resulted in the discovery of interactive design patterns. Following their discoveries in 2013, students in this year’s program further investigated kinetic and interactive architecture in their new study entitled Revolutions. After a series of design ideas were developed by smaller groups of students, the teams collaborated to create the final prototype Kinetic Haze in less than five days. Read on after the break to learn more about the project.
Learning doesn’t necessarily need to be formal – or expensive for that matter. Thanks to the Internet and some generous benefactors, you can further your education for free from the comfort of your own home. Top schools such as MIT and Harvard University are affiliated with free online learning resources, allowing people from all over the globe to connect and audit courses at their own pace. In some cases, these services even provide self-educators with proof for having completed courses. Keep reading after the break to check out our round-up of four free online learning resources.
In a posthumous 1990 essay “A Black Box: The Secret Profession of Architecture”, Reyner Banham warned of architecture’s corrosive trend toward insulating itself from discussions outside of the discipline. Decades later, architecture finds itself in an even more dire state of affairs. Despite a transformed global context, the same paternalistic model of studio culture that has existed since the Beaux Arts remains in place. “Studio culture”, as currently practiced, promotes an outdated and parochial understanding of how design knowledge is produced, valuing expertise over synthesis and image over process and practice.
It also affects the health and wellness of students. Over ten years ago, the AIAS (American Institute of Architecture Students) and NAAB (National Architectural Accrediting Board) created a new requirement for accreditation, requiring all schools to address these precise concerns through a written policy on studio and learning culture. However, many schools of architecture across the country still do not educate students about this policy nor seem to follow it.
While there are certainly creative strengths and a generalized camaraderie fostered by traditional studio models, they do not adequately prepare students for navigating the global present. We believe there is an urgent need to reconfigure the institution of studio in order to address the pressing academic and professional issues of our time. We are putting forth what we feel are the guiding principles which must inform a progressive studio culture: agency, balance, flexibility, diversity, interactivity, interdisciplinarity, and sustainability. It is our hope these principles spur debate and much needed action for fundamentally transforming studio culture.