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On Reflection: Learning, Meaning and Identity in the Design Studio

Crabbe, Matthew; Pawlicki, Nina; Jansen, Sina; Roswag-Klinge, Eike

Successfully transitioning to a more sustainable building sector will require schools of architecture to explore new methods, approaches and formats for learning. Challenging some of the outdated values and assumptions at the core of the architecture profession starts in the design studio, where early professional identities, relationships and understandings of collaboration are forged. While there is an increasing focus on inter- and transdisciplinary learning in today’s higher education landscape, investigations into the pedagogy of the design studio are both relatively limited and disproportionately dominated by theory based on Donald Schön’s ideas on the “reflective practitioner”. In reality, the lack of any kind of coherent training for teaching staff means that most often approaches tend to reproduce that which the teachers themselves experienced during their own studies. The paper uses a series of autoethnographic vignettes to describe design studio teaching at Natural Building Lab from the perspective of a university educator based on the example of a masters design studio in winter 2021-22. Etienne Wenger’s Communities of Practice model, and specifically the four dimensions of design for learning, are used to unpack and discuss some of the dialogies at work in studio learning. The study should be seen as a form of practice-based research, using teaching formats as a way to actively gain new insights into new forms of practice with a focus on sustainability and student-empowerment. The paper provides an intimate and personal insight into some of the questions and challenges facing educators, students and project partners as participants in emergent and collective learning processes.
Published in: IOP Conference Series: Earth and Environmental Science, 10.1088/1755-1315/1078/1/012060, IOP