Summer Design/Build - July 2nd-12th - Champagne, France:
There is a dichotomy to the business of educating architects. While the real world profession is a collaborative field, one in which projects of even the largest and most publicly-acclaimed offices are team-led initiatives, the study of architecture is often insular, myopic, and devoid of such partnerships. Certainly there is a benefit to this style of teaching - it builds confidence for one thing - but it is troubling to think that in a socially-oriented and practically-minded field like architecture, there can be such major disconnects between the process of designing and the act of building. As many critics of current architectural education have pointed out, incorporating design-build projects into school curriculums is a pragmatic solution oriented towards correcting such imbalances.
The fact that more schools don't have programs for students to both design and build their projects is especially perplexing when most universities, particularly those located in the United States, are in such a prolonged period of institutional and budgetary expansion. With many schools now governed like corporate entities, it’s surprising that architecture programs and students are not treated like in-house resources. Why aren’t architecture students treated like assets, the same way that student doctors and nurses are brought into university led medical facilities or scientists into campus research labs?
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?
Patrick McLoughlin is one of the two founders of Build Abroad, a volunteer organization that offers architectural and construction services to developing nations. In this article, originally published on Archi-Ninja, McLoughlin shares five reasons why architects should get involved with organizations like his own.
Many architecture firms collaborate with non-government organisations to help in developing nations. A.gor.a Architects for example, are currently designing and building a new health clinic to provide free healthcare to Burmese refugees and migrants. Auburn University Rural Studio works with architects and students to build homes in rural communities while instigating community-action, collaboration, and sustainability.
A number of organisations also facilitate construction volunteering. Architecture for Humanity provides architecture, planning and project management services for disaster reconstruction. Architects without Borders is a global operation to provide ecologically sensitive and culturally appropriate design assistance to communities in need.
Over the past decade, volunteering abroad has become an increasingly popular and important part of the architecture and construction industry. Volunteering abroad offers short to long term opportunities to experience a new culture while giving back to the community. Construction volunteering offers the potential for a lasting impact on the affected community. Patrick McLoughlin, co-counder of Build Abroad describes the following benefits and how you can help to make a difference:
Interdisciplinary teams from the University of Sao Paulo, Delft University, and five other post-secondary institutions are currently exploring sustainable innovations in design, materials, and building systems thanks to the support of Pillars of Sustainable Education – a partnership between Architecture for Humanity and the Alcoa Foundation. The collaborative effort was founded as a way to “educate the next generation of architects, engineers, and material designers while supporting real-world design-build projects that positively impact both the environment and the local community.” Months into the project, the schools’ proposals are turning into reality as students collaborate with NGOs. To learn about what each school is working on, keep reading after the break.
TYIN tegnestue architects are known for their small-scale built projects in underprivileged areas around the world, but you might not know just how open this firm is about sharing their work. If you head to their website, many of their past projects are available for download in the form of photographs, sketches, drawings, models, and more. They believe that by sharing their knowledge, they are encouraging students and young architects to learn by building. The architecture co-operative has even created the "TYIN Architect's Toolbox," a downloadable guide to working on design-builds in places of need. For more information on the guide, keep reading after the break.
Hale County, Alabama is a place full of architects, and often high profile ones. The likes of Todd Williams and Billie Tsien have ventured there, as have Peter Gluck and Xavier Vendrell, all to converge upon Auburn University’s Rural Studio. Despite the influx of designers, it is a place where an ensemble of all black will mark you as an outsider. I learned this during my year as an Outreach student there, and was reminded recently when I ventured south for the Studio’s 20th Anniversary celebration. While the most recent graduates took the stage, I watched the ceremony from the bed of a pick-up truck, indulging in corn-coated, deep-fried catfish, and reflected on what the organization represents to the architecture world.
Since its founding in 1993 by D.K. Ruth and Samuel Mockbee, the Studio has built more than 150 projects and educated over 600 students. Those first years evoke images of stacked tires coated with concrete and car windshields pinned up like shingles over a modest chapel. In the past two decades, leadership has passed from Mockbee and Ruth to the current director, Andrew Freear, and the palette has evolved to feature more conventional materials, but the Studio remains faithful to its founding principal: all people deserve good design. Now that it is officially a twenty-something, what can Rural Studio teach us about good design?
"Architectural education is very abstract." Virginia Tech professors and Rural Studio alumni Keith and Marie Zawistowski sit down to talk about the importance of a hands-on experience, suggesting a fundamental restructuring of curriculums. With projects such as the Masonic Ampitheater, they — together with their students — set out to prove that somethings are simply solved by building. Read the full article here, "What Architecture Schools Get Wrong"
"As Autumn Leaves" (AAL) is a spatial installation designed and built by students of the Laboratory for Computational Design (LCD) for Beijing's 2013 Design Week. Located in a historic hutong district in Beijing, AAL highlights the existing entrance to Dashilar Factory where emerging creatives exhibit their design. The concept is based on ephermerality of nature. As temperatures change, autumn turns to winter, and trees shed their leaves, AAL recalls the passage of time through changing seasons.
Most architects have to wait years to see their first project realized – but if you’re an architecture student at Yale University, you may just have to get on campus.
The Jim Vlock Project, established in 1967, gives first year graduate architecture students the opportunity to design and build a single family home in New Haven, Connecticut. The most recent iteration of the program, which investigated prefab design and construction, will be dedicated today at Yale University.
More info on this year's Jim Vlock house, after the break...
An inspiring little video from the folks at Virginia Tech that will make you want to get your designer hands dirty - today. The video follows the third-years of 2013 as they build their final project: a bridge. As the co-founder of the lab, Kieth Zawistowski, eloquently says at the video's end, "It doesn't really matter if you ever want to actually build something yourself again, what's important, in this case, is that you've seen the entirety of the process, from conception to realization." If you want to see more from design/buildLAB, check out the project completed by last year's students (which features in the last few minutes of the video): Masonic Ampitheatre.
While other architecture students spend their summers strolling the streets, seeing the sights, and contently sketching, you could be getting your hands dirty, turning your designs into reality, and making a difference in a community that needs you.
Every summer, Global Architecture Brigades (GAB) activates student volunteers to work with a community in Honduras, helping them alleviate needs in health and education. The program isn’t a lesson in a charity; it’s a hands-on experience of the community-entrenched work of a designer of the 21st century.
Read more about Global Architecture Brigade’s work in Honduras, and how you can get involved, after the break...
A small group of students and architect Tobias Holler of sLAB Costa Rica at the New York Institute of Technology, have teamed up to design and build a communal recycling center for Nosara, Costa Rica – a city that is facing grave problems with sanitation and illegal dumping of garbage on beaches and in wildlife areas. Construction started last summer after a Kickstarter campaign that raised $15,000 helped provide expenses and costs associated with housing the students that assisted with the construction. A relaunch of the Kickstarter campaign will provide the project with additional funds to bring the students back to accelerate the pace of construction. The funds also support the documentary by Ayana de Vos, whose film follows the progress of the project and features waste management and sustainability in Costa Rica.
Join us after the break for more.
It’s not often that a project requires you to bulk up on your haggling skills.
Then again, it’s not often that a project requires you to re-invent the African Mud Hut either. But that was exactly the task presented to Karolina and Wayne Switzer, participants of the Nka Foundation’s “10x10 Shelter Challenge” to design and build a 10 by 10 feet shelter deep in the heart of Ghana.
The pair, who just completed their project this month, were dependent upon the local community to make the shelter a reality, and had to learn early on how to communicate with the locals - not just to negotiate prices for materials and labor, but to overcome the local stigma associated with mud architecture (usually only used by the very poor).
The result was a contemporary, durable shelter built with a construction method inspired by local tradition: the pounding of the fufu root, a diet staple for the community, which uncannily paralleled the pounding of fresh soil into the forms. Hence the local’s name for the structure: “Obruni fufu” (white man’s fufu).
If you’re interested in getting involved in the 10x10 Challenge (open to students and graduates of design, architecture, art, or engineering, until October 2013), check out the Nka Foundation’s website, www.nkafoundation.org, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Full description of the project, after the break....
A small group of diverse students participating in the inaugural AA Visiting School Eugene were given the responsibility to design and build something that would enhance and reflect the forest, within a ten-day timeframe.
More on the Camera Obscura after the break.
Designer: Morag Myerscough of Studio Myerscough Customized ice cream bicycle: Luke Morgan Furniture: Morag Myerscough and Luke Morgan Location: Waller Way, Greenwich, London Se10 8JA, UK Project Year: 2012 Project Area: 140 sqm Client: Cathedral Group
The Department of State’s Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO) has announced the selection of Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects and Davis Brody Bond to design the New Embassy Compound (NEC) in Mexico City, Mexico. After an intense round of presentations and interviews, the duo was selected from a talented shortlist of nine architectural/engineering teams. As reported on the Latin American Herald Tribune, the jury believed that “their portfolio of work is compatible to the local culture and shows sensitivity that highlights their connection to the character of the site.”
If you read our infographic, then you know that Public-Interest Design is one of the few growing sectors of the architecture industry. From the prevalence of Design-Build curriculums in Architecture Schools to the rise of the 1% program and non-profits like Architecture for Humanity, Public-Interest Design (PID) is hitting its stride.
Which is why we’re so excited that two of PID’s biggest players, Design Corps and SEED (Social Economic Environmental Design), have teamed up to create SEEDocs, a monthly series of mini-documentaries that highlight the inspirational stories of six award-winning public interest design projects.
The latest SEEDoc follows the story of the Grow Dat Youth Farm - a brilliant example of what we call “Urban Agri-puncture” (a strategy that uses design & Urban Agriculture to target a city’s most deprived, unhealthy neighborhoods) that is changing the lives of New Orleans youth.
More on this inspiring story, after the break…