learning architecture


a PhD in live projects and architectural education


Very much a work in progress, this glossary seeks to collate complimentary and contradictory definitions of key terms relating to the project.

Unless otherwise indicated, all definitions from or derived from those in the Oxford English Dictionary. Updated 22 September 2009.

alternative practicenoun practice that does not fall within the realm of conventions. Based on the definition of alternative medicine, as used in the modern western world, encompassing any healing practice “that does not fall within the realm of conventional medicine” (Bratman, MD, Steven (1997). The Alternative Medicine Sourcebook. Lowell House. pp. 7. ISBN 1565656261.) See also:

alternative adjective 1) (of one or more things) available as another possibility. 2) (of two things) mutually exclusive. 3 ) departing from or challenging traditional practices. noun one of two or more available possibilities.

practice noun 1) the actual application of a plan or method, as opposed to the theories relating to it. 2) the customary way of doing something. 3) the practising of a profession. 4) the business or premises of a doctor or lawyer. 5) the action or process of practising something so as to become proficient in it.

anarchic adjective with no controlling rules or principles

collective adjective 1) done by or belonging to all the members of a group. 2) taken as a whole; aggregate. noun an enterprise owned or operated cooperatively

conventional practice noun practice that is 1) done in the way in which it is usually done. 2) that is socially acceptable.  Defined from:

convention noun 1) a way in which something is usually done. 2) socially acceptable behaviour. 3) an agreement between countries. 4) a large meeting or conference. 5) N. Amer. an assembly of the delegates of a political party to select candidates for office. 6) a body set up by agreement to deal with a particular issue.

democratic adjective 1) relating to or supporting democracy. 2) egalitarian

disciplinenoun 1) the practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behaviour. 2) controlled behaviour resulting from such training. 3) a branch of knowledge, especially one studied in higher education. verb 1) train in obedience or self-control by punishment or imposing rules. 2) punish or rebuke formally for an offence. 3) (disciplined) behaving in a controlled way.

ethical adjective 1) relating to moral principles or the branch of knowledge concerned with these. 2) morally correct. 3) (of a medicine) available only on prescription

feminist noun relating to or supporting the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of sexual equality

interdisciplinaryadjective relating to more than one branch of knowledge

  • crossdisciplinary – crossing disciplinary boundaries to explain one subject in the terms of another, foreign subject or method. Common examples of crossdisciplinary approaches are studies of the physics of music or the politics of literature. (Wikipedia)
  • multidisciplinary – involving several academic disciplines or professional specializations (Oxford English Dictionary) – joining together two or more disciplines without integration. Each discipline yields discipline specific results while any integration would be left to a third party observer. A multidisciplinary person is a person with degrees from two or more academic disciplines, so one person can take the place of two or more people in a multidisciplinary community or project team. Over time, multidisciplinary work does not typically lead to an increase nor a decrease in the number of academic disciplines. (Wikipedia).
  • transdisciplinary – an approach that dissolves boundaries between disciplines. Most uses of the term suggest a deliberate and intentionally scandalous or transgressive violation of disciplinary rules, for the purpose of achieving new insight, or of expanding the discipline’s resources. A less polemic view of transdiciplinarity treats it as the act of taking theories and methods which exist independently of several disciplines and applying them to organize and understand different areas or fields. This is based largely on the idea that “knowledge cannot be singularly claimed as belonging to or originating in any one discipline” (Ausburg, Tanya. Becoming Interdisciplinary: An Introduction to Interdisciplinary Studies. 2nd edition. New York: Kendall/Hunt Publishing, 2006) A postmodernist view of transdisciplinarity sees knowledge production as not confined to academic disciplines, conceived as existing in a horizontal plane. Knowledge is also produced from varieties of organizations and collective entities outside of academia, and these can be conceived of as existing on a vertical plane. Knowledge production outside of academia can range from that generated by complex organized structures through less complex communities, down to that produced spontaneously by groups and individuals. Within any collective entity this knowledge can range from that generated by those in leadership roles to that produced experientially and used by individual members in completing their day-to-day functions. Transdisciplinarity, then, implies the integration or interrelation of disciplinary generated knowledge and non-disciplinary generated knowledge and its application to complex problems and issues. (Wikipedia)

live project – noun 1) “a type of [ design ] studio project which is distinct in its engagement of real clients of users. This external involvement tends to result in students producing something that is of value to the client/user group, which might range from ideas , feasibility reports, or research, to a completed design scheme, a construction or other intervention. The remit of the project is typically worked out in collaboration with the external collaborators, rather than being imposed by the design studio teacher. As a result, the process is more dialogic and inclusive than traditional studio projects. The external focus introduces a contingency to the projects, which makes live project work stand apart from the necessarily more abstract projects of the traditional design studio.” (SARA, R., 2004. Between studio and street : the role of the live project in architectural education, University of Sheffield) 2) [ a design project employed in architectural education ] “with a real client, with a real problem and are done in real time, with a defined end result” (CHILES, PRUE AND HOLDER, ANNA, 2008. The Live Project. Oxford Conference)

non-commercialadjective 1) [ not ]concerned with or engaged in commerce. 2) [ not ] making or intended to make a profit. 3) (of television or radio) funded by the revenue from broadcast advertisements. Defined from:

commercial adjective 1) concerned with or engaged in commerce. 2) making or intended to make a profit. 3) (of television or radio) funded by the revenue from broadcast advertisements. noun a television or radio advertisement.

non-hierarchicaladjective 1) not ordered according to status or authority. 2) not arranged according to relative importance or inclusiveness. Defined from:

hierachy noun (pl. hierarchies) 1) a ranking system ordered according to status or authority. 2) an arrangement according to relative importance or inclusiveness. 3) (the hierarchy) the clergy of the Catholic Church or of an episcopal Church. 4) Theology the traditional system of orders of angels and other heavenly beings.

participatory adjective relating to taking part

political adjective 1) relating to the government or public affairs of a country. 2) related to or interested in politics. 3) chiefly derogatory acting in the interests of status within an organization rather than on principle.

process-orientatedadjective aligned, positioned or tailored to noun 1) a series of actions or steps towards achieving a particular end 2) a natural series of changes. Derived from:

process noun 1) a series of actions or steps towards achieving a particular end. 2) a natural series of changes: the ageing process. 3) Law a summons to appear in court. 4) Biology & Anatomy a natural appendage or outgrowth on or in an organism. 5) before Printing relating to printing using ink in three colours (cyan, magenta, and yellow) and black. verb 1) perform a series of operations to change or preserve. 2) Computing operate on (data) by means of a program. 3) deal with, using an established procedure.

provocative adjective 1) deliberately causing annoyance or anger. 2) deliberately arousing sexual desire or interest.

relational adjective relating to the way in which two or more people or things are connected or related. 2) the way in which two or more people or groups feel about and behave towards each other. 3) a relative. 4) (relations) formal sexual intercourse. 5) the action of telling a story.

social adjective 1) relating to society, its organization, or hierarchy. 2) needing companionship; suited to living in communities. 3) relating to or designed for activities in which people meet each other for pleasure. 4) (of birds, insects, or mammals) breeding or living in colonies or organized communities. noun an informal social gathering organized by the members of a club or group.

speculative adjective 1) engaged in or based on conjecture rather than knowledge. 2) (of an investment) involving a high risk of loss.

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