Just finished what i think is my 4th week teaching in 2nd year at the Leicester School of Architecture. Small group today, but good students. We just talked about their projects on a loosely individual basis, where others could take part of they wanted.
I found this quite rewarding. It was nice after having two very focussed sessions in the previous weeks to have an opportunity to look at their projects as a whole, and think about their interim reviews in a couple of weeks time. I guess they’re also getting to know who I am now too. This made things a bit more familiar, and i found it easier to hear them out before trying to empathise with their situation and help them work out a strategy for moving on.
Im finding teaching really interesting. Ive always been quite critical of who is allowed to teach on architecture courses – my employment highlights the fact in can be anyone! Ive no formal teaching qualification and im not fully qualified as an architect…so on what basis can i be trusted with other peoples’ education? Especially an expensive one…
But i guess what is important is actually the reflective nature of the teachers themselves. Maybe the simple fact that i am interested in improving as a teacher is reason enough? Teaching – like the social production of design – is about co-creating knowledge; about building a common ground for dialogue about an idea that can be put into practice, and in this respect i guess i’ve had five or six years of training! In treating my role as an educator like my role as a designer, i can help students on their journey towards bettering themselves. A solution of aspiration and best fit that is not unlike the design for production of a building, product, service, event, etc
But how can i remain fresh? And resist the idea of settling into a job in a way that breeds complacency and – in the worst cases – apathy and dislocation from those whose time you have taken custody? This happens too often, and these formative and (now expensive) years are just too important to let that happen.
Writing up Live Projects, I’ve had the pleasure of discovering this beautiful project. Kyong Park, talking about his nomadic form of architectural and artistic practice, can be found on Vimeo here. In a world where everything is relational, it makes no sense for practice to fixed in one place, Park says. An interesting interview with him can also be found here.
18mins – Brief summary of the Fugitive House
36mins – Concept of Urban Ecology as something we have created, and how dramatic visualisation enables us to view cities as organisms.
There will be a book.
The book will be about the nature of ‘live’ pedagogy; ‘liveness’ in general rather than just Live Projects as an ingredient for that condition; the applied nature of researched-based practice and ‘live’ as a way of teaching; drawing things out from 13 years of teaching at the Sheffield School of Architecture, to derive something broader and more meaningful for practice.
It will also look at the civic role of a project office based within a university. The Bureau of Design Research (BDR) has been doing projects in the city, bringing students back in after their formal education, but also pushing them out into the city to work. As a model, it is a way of teaching and a way of doing consultancy. Its location within a university is important – BDR probably wouldn’t have won certain work without the foundation of a project being in work carried out by students as part of their studies. The research informs – and leads – practice.
The Soar stream of projects is a prime example. Direct commissions (for BDR and others) than come out of ‘live’ work conducted by students (feasibility studies, participative exercises, etc), that then come full-circle to allow further ‘live’ opportunities for civic engagement by and with a university. (The Soar projects are discussed in a chapter of ‘Architecture and Participation’ – search Amazon). Further projects often feature shared organisations and procurement methods, further evidencing the live ‘effect’ – projects that continue to have a life outside of the university and beyond the academic career of its students.
Other Schools of Architecture are picking up on the value that Live Projects can add to an educational offer, but few (maybe none) are getting anywhere near the implications that ‘liveness’ can have for practice too, rather than remaining merely a pedagogical initiative.
Live is a model for education and for practice. It has implications for how you commission architects and where the power lies in the process of commissioning the built environment.
It also addresses the challenge of building an awareness of what people do in universities .
I popped into the Hub Westminster today, just to see what was going on in this interestingly conceived place for entrepreneurial thinking and doing right in the heart of our capital city…
This weekend sees the Hub host the University Project, introduced by Dougald Hine here, which questioned what our universities have become, and asks what we should do next.
I had the dubious pleasure recently of being asked to be involved in a debate at my School of Architecture, run by Project Context and hosted by SUAS (Sheffield University Architecture Society) which followed an Oxford-style debate format based upon the motion, “Schools of Architecture Should Be Dissolved!”. I was asked to argue for the motion, alongside Sheffield graduate Alastair Parvin, and current staff member Dr Tatjana Schneider. A synopsis or our argument can be found – thanks to Alastair – here, whilst the debate itself was videoed and broadcast live via Livestream. A recording can be found here (the debate itself begins about 20mins in…). A lively discussion with some interesting QandA…but boy am I glad I survived it!