Curating school cultures: Studios in the context of school agendas

The Association of Architecture Schools of Australia
Publication Type:
Conference Proceeding
Designing/Education: Proceedings of the 7th International Conference of The Association of Architecture Schools of Australasia, 2013, pp. 212 - 221
Issue Date:
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Studios are consistently assumed to be the focus of Architectural education. This paper proposes alternatively, that the success of?any studio is fundamentally determined by the explicit design of?the context in which it sits. What remains little examined within studio pedagogic discussion is the design of the culture of studios at individual schools and the role, positive and negative of larger school agendas within that shape meaningful studio outcomes. Rather than ask how does one design a studio, a better question might be how does one design the research environment in which they thrive? This paper interrogates the assumptions of studio independence and posits the positive relationship between designed and curated school cultures and studios as a means of repositioning the debate around studio education. This raises many issues for currently accepted studio practice which include; assessing the value of individual intellectual property structurally embedded within current studio models, the role of heads of programs as skilled curators, the coherency of a school of architecture and the subsequent capacity for commitment to common research goals, the scale of the current studio model against research potentials, the positioning of schools within a competitive education market place, and the role of specific school agendas and positioning in the context of notions of generalized architectural education. Within the context of the contemporary education system, there are many reasons why the typical studio model has been so resilient, however, larger agendas requiring change in educational structures and focus is one action with the potential to drive the evolution of studios in a design research context beyond the limits of current boutique project development. What then is the relationship between a school agenda and the success of studio projects? By examining two contemporary school models (Columbia University's studio X, and the UTS "all school": Metropolis project) as a starting point, and drawing on conversations developed initially at the international conference "20/20 The Evolving Architectural Education; Innovation in Teaching and learning in Asia" conference hosted in 2012 at CUhK around the importance of cultural activation within Architecture Schools, this paper draws out the relationship between an overall explicit school positioning or agenda, and the success of studio culture within those schools where this is clear.
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