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The History and Evolution of Visual Media in Architectural Education

Part 2 Dissertation 2011
Francesca Patterson
University of Liverpool, UK
A key skill for architects is having the ability to understand and manipulate visual material to communicate architectural ideas. A particularly vital part of architectural learning is achieved through the use of visual media which can help to make the learning experience more memorable.

The driver for this investigation was the discovery of a small sealed room in the basement of the Liverpool School of Architecture. The room, which had been forgotten about for over 30 years, contained a large collection of visual teaching aids such as glass slides, picture cards and student work. Like opening a time capsule the contents of the room had the potential to give an insight into the history of architectural education at Liverpool School of Architecture; the first school to offer a full time course in architecture and is the oldest University School of Architecture in the UK.

Original research was carried out to investigate the history and evolution of visual media used in architectural education. The discovery of the slide collection is significant as it dates back to the beginning of the schools history when it was established in 1894. Researching the history of the slide collection at Liverpool School of Architecture revealed the significant role figures such as P H Rathbone and F M Simpson played when establishing the School. They promoted the use of new technologies such as the glass slide projector to improve architectural learning.

The slide collection is still valuable today as an archive of photographs taken in the early twentieth century and possibly before. Many of the slides represent places or environments which have changed dramatically or those that no longer exist. It also is a record of what ideas and styles were considered important by the school at the time of the glass slide collections use.

There have been dramatic changes in the types of visual media used in architectural education. However, the invention of the photographic glass slide marks a turning point in the development of visual media in education, as the beginning of the shared learning experience through a projected image.

Francesca Patterson

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