A glimpse of the Ayrshire coastline from the Glasgow / Ayr train (which calls at Prestwick Airport, 45 minutes from Glasgow Central, every thirty minutes).
31 March, 2009 • 15:00 0
28 March, 2009 • 21:50 0
My computer (perhaps it’s Safari, or perhaps it’s WordPress, I don’t know) has added a red squiggly line beneath every instance of the word ‘transilient’ throughout this post, so it looks as though we have a promisingly open-ended theme for a two day conference on the interdisciplinarity of architecture at the University of Edinburgh on Monday and Tuesday.
30-31 March 2009, University of Edinburgh
Although, having said that, I’ve just noticed another red squiggly line under ‘interdisciplinarity’. Being able to fool a spellcheck seems to be a good test of a research conference title.
If you’re also attending, please say hello. I’ll be easy to spot, I’m the nervous looking one with bad hair christening his first official day of doctoral studies with a day trip to Edinburgh.
28 March, 2009 • 21:34 1
A copy of Jeremy Till’s new book Architecture Depends landed on my doormat with an unexpected thwump two weeks ago today (courtesy of Liz Bury at BD magazine, to whom I am most grateful). The done thing as a blogger on architectural education would be to review it here as soon as I’ve reached the index. However Architecture Depends is – to me, at least – more deserving than a quick read, digest and review. Besides, Steve Parnell has written a review far better that I could. It helpfully explains the different backgrounds (and therefore different opinions) of the two authors of the most prominent reviews of the book in the British architectural press so far: Robert Mull in the AJ and Richard Weston in BD.
So why am I, ever the energetic blogger, holding back? I suspect it is because I am coming to appreciate Architecture Depends as a formal end-point on the formal years of my architectural education. And to review it would be to pixelate my thoughts about more than just the book.
Till was appointed head of the School of Architecture at the University of Sheffield in 1999. I studied my BA in Architecture at Sheffield from 2001 – 2004, and then my Masters in Architecture from 2006 – 2008. Till left Sheffield in 2008 to take up a Deanship at the University of Westminster. Although Till stepped down from the role of head for the latter years of his time at Sheffield, he remained a charismatic and provocative character who engaged with many aspects of school life. And his nine year period of influence encloses my formation as an architect. Architecture Depends has been in the works for several years, and I was among a number of Sheffield students introduced to its key concepts a year or two ago when Jeremy explained the difficulty in getting permission for an image of a Mark Wallinger performance piece for the cover and the suggestion by his publisher that Architecture Depends might be a better title than Architecture and Contingency.
Jeremy Till was not the only educator at Sheffield to have a formative influence of my shape and personality as an architect and a student. And even though he had a hand in only a fraction of the direct teaching I experienced at Sheffield, his leadership and dialogue with staff and students was fundamental in creating what I continue to regard as a lively, exciting and extremely fruitful period in Sheffield’s one hundred year history as a school of architecture. Many different dialogues were initiated, some taking up strands from before his tenure and many sparking new strands of thought in architectural education, participation, inclusivity and – of course – contingency. Those dialogues continue at Sheffield but will inevitably take on new energies and directions, a decade seeming to be a good enough time frame for a head of school to influence his flock.
So while there is no full-stop at the end of a sentence that describes the University of Sheffield School of Architecture during Jeremy Till’s ‘era’, and while I see myself as very much more than just a Till-ite, I am turning to Architecture Depends for a second, slower reading. It is a lucid, wide-reaching and enjoyable read that readily expects the criticism it has and will receive from certain quarters. Its theoretical and anecdotal breadth verges on being unwieldy, but it does translate into a coherent narrative a number of strands of pedagogical thought that a generation of Sheffield architecture graduates will recognise.
So, is it any good? I still can’t answer that question, because it still feels as though I’m passing judgement on my own architectural education. But that has made it a compelling read.
18 March, 2009 • 22:00 0
2 March, 2009 • 18:08 0
2 March, 2009 • 18:02 2
It may be hard to believe, but a three year PhD in architectural pedagogy can begin with a 250 word application.
Interdisciplinary learning and collaborative practice: towards a sustainable pedagogy that learns from alternative architectural practice
This investigation seeks to question the tangible and lasting value – to all stakeholders, participants and facilitators – of community-based “live” projects in an architectural education that is no longer exclusive of other disciplines. By mapping and collating a comprehensive history of alternative practice in architectural education (which would appear to be missing from current discourse in this field) the project would seek to critically interpret the skill sets developed therein, questioning the definition and expectations of projects deemed to be successful by their stakeholders.
Acknowledging the shifting dynamic of architectural education in this and other countries in the last two decades, the project would address whether a formal architectural education that employs tactics from alternative creative practice teaches or nurtures the skills for a more versatile student (quantatively, in terms of career path and employability, qualitatively in terms of personal development). Considering the rising costs and extensive time commitment demanded by a formal architecture education, how can educational institutions ensure that they are providing the necessary skills for students to develop their careers, especially in uncertain economic conditions?
Particular interest will be paid to those institutions which seek to nurture interdisciplinary teaching and research. Do these unions benefit taught and research students, and what actions can be made to develop genuinely interdisciplinary praxis in the higher education environment?
The author will contextualise his research with an acknowledgement of his education thus far at the University of Sheffield, an established centre of “live” project activity, critically assessing the established texts of Sara, Chiles, Petrescu and Blundell-Jones with consideration for the next moves in our understanding of successful interdisciplinary praxis.