Hybrid Modes of Inquiry: [Re]Mapping the Nature of the Design Studio in Architecture Education

By Nick Dunn.

Published by The Design Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The environment of architecture education is a receptive platform for knowledge production and exchange, since it is located at the confluence of theory and practice and the attendant modes of inquiry that contribute to space-related design and research. One of the emergent fields of inquiry and debate surrounding architecture as both an academic subject and profession is that concerning the interface between theory and design. In his highly polemical essay, After Theory, Michael Speaks suggests that theory is not only irrelevant but actually impedes creative culture and, as such, necessitates a fundamental restructuring to occur to enable innovation in architecture schools. The proliferation of digital networks as temporal infrastructures of contemporary cityscapes reveals a connectivity of latent information and public concerns that is at best discreet if not completely invisible in the physical urban landscape. The potential inclusion of this data into the design protocols of architecture and urbanism, both pedagogic and professional, may afford greater discourse as it has the capacity for us to consider societal issues that are not necessarily explicitly manifest. Understanding the everyday integration of actual and digital space may inform and expand the transactional discourse in architecture and the implications of such practice may provide a shared creative space that enhances collaboration and facilitates agency. This paper therefore attempts to address this situation and outlines new modes of inquiry that may be adopted within the design studio to respond to the changing character of urban landscapes in society.

Keywords: Architecture Pedagogy, Agency, Society, Theory, Urbanism, Digital Networks

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 4, Issue 2, pp.39-46. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 594.826KB).

Prof. Nick Dunn

Principal Lecturer, Architecture, Manchester School of Architecture, Manchester, Lancashire, UK

Principal Lecturer, Author and Director of Studies for the BArch Bachelor of Architecture program at the Manchester School of Architecture. He is Studio Unit Leader of [Re_Map], whose research is concerned with the mapping and representation of urban networks, data and conditions. He also supervises postgraduate research at MA by Research and PhD level. He is a founding member of 'team-bau', an architectural think-tank and research unit. His doctorate thesis, 'The Ecology of the Architectural Model' was concerned with developing a new methodology and system of diagrams with which to study and map the design behaviour of architecture students and contribute to the understanding of the complex process of design. It has since been published as a book. He has recently contributed to a major international research project funded by the European Union and led by Bruno Latour. His involvement in the project was as part of an investigation into the representation and mapping of space, both real and digital, as places for public engagement with a variety of different communities and ‘architectures’ and an analysis of the potential controversies. His primary research interests are in the fields of visualization, modelling, mapping, pedagogy, representation in architecture, and urbanism.


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