learning architecture


a PhD in live projects and architectural education

Scotland’s Housing Expo

I made the trip up to Inverness last week on behalf of BD to visit Scotland’s Housing Expo, located just outside the city in Milton of Leys. As you can see from the photo above, there were still some finishing touches to be made, but it was still an incredible sight to see fifty-something homes by twenty-something Scottish architects (mostly) delivered on time. You can read my thoughts in this week’s BD (clicky clicky), but if you have any interest in the state of Scottish architecture and design I suggest you head north at the earliest opportunity. If Scotland is to have any chance of enjoying another such event, this one needs as many visitors through the turnstile as it can get, especially as the target of 30,000 visitors over the month that it’s open seems somewhat optimistic.

The Expo is, if nothing else, a unique opportunity to see so many practices’ work side by side; some good, some bad. Unlike some in the press, I see no point in being churlish about the all the setbacks faced by the Expo in the last few years. But, faced with a strict 1200 word count for BD, I did take the executive decision not to waste readers time describing the buildings I really didn’t like.

The Expo is open daily until the end of August, when the houses will be put on the market for sale or rent.

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Amos Rapoport on design theory

In the early nineteen-eighties, Amos Rapoport wrote:

…there is no valid theory of design involved in design teaching. In fact there is no theory of design worth that name. Without such a theory, design cannot be taught and is not really suitable as a university subject. Its approach is personal, subjective, illogical and not cumulative.

Twenty-five years later, are we still without a ‘valid theory of design’ in architectural education? Possibly…

  • RAPOPORT, A., 1984. Architectural Education: There is an urgent need to reduce or eliminate the dominance of the studio. Architectural Record 172(10), pp. 100-103.

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About the project

learning architecture is an academic blog of James Benedict Brown, previously a doctoral candidate in architectural pedagogy at the School of Planning, Architecture and Civil Engineering at Queen's University Belfast, Northern Ireland. James passed his viva in September 2012 and graduated the following December.

About the author

James Benedict Brown has worked and studied in England, Northern Ireland, France and Canada. Following the completion of his PhD at QUB, he was appointed Lecturer in Architecture at Norwich University of the Arts. A short bio is here.

About the supervisors

The project is supervised by Prof. Ruth Morrow and Keith McAllister. Prior to his appointment at Qatar University in 2009, Prof. Ashraf Salama also supervised the project.


Click here for the bibliography to date.


Click here for a selection of peer-reviewed and non-peer-reviewed writing.


Click here for a glossary-in-progress of key terms used in the project.

Conference diary

Conferences and seminars of interest to the project.


All images are used for illustrative purposes only, and the copyright remains with the artist and/or creator. Please contact me if I have misappropriated an image or incorrectly credited it.


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