Connecting Disciplines and Tracing an Educated Imagination: Biennale of Sydney Pavilions Design Summer Studio

Publication Type:
Conference Proceeding
Proceedings of ConnectED2010 International Conference on Design Education, 2010, pp. 1 - 7
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In January 2010 the Architecture Program of the Faculty of the Built Environment at the UNSW hosted a design summer studio: 'Biennale of Sydney Pavilions' open to approximately thirty Masters students of architecture and fine arts. The studio took place twice a week for four weeks with a total of 48 hours. The purpose of this studio was to give the students the opportunity of designing a pavilion for the 17th Biennale of Sydney visitors, already affected by the display of many artworks in the Biennale, with specific spaces limited to contemplation, thinking and meditation. The pavilion, intended as the point of interaction between art, architecture and the natural beauty of the Sydney Harbour, would offer to Biennale visitors a moment for pause and reflection. The aim of the studio was to cultivate in the students an 'educated design imagination' through the integration of multiple disciplines in order to approach the design in a holistic way. Accordingly, the disciplinary background of the four lecturers/tutors involved in this studio included Art, Architecture and Philosophical Aesthetics. The paper traces the vital role of these respective disciplines taught in the design studio and attempts to gauge to what extent the students will benefit from this multidisciplinary exposure. The term 'educated imagination' is borrowed from the Canadian scholar Northrop Frye's book The Educated Imagination, (1963)1, where he distinguishes the way the sciences and the arts construct imagination from opposite ends. Frye suggests that science begins with the world as it is and from a rational and intellectual approach science turns to imagination. On the other hand, 'art begins with the world we construct, not with the world we see. It starts with the imagination, and then works towards ordinary experience'.
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