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An Operating Manual for Studio Culture

Part 2 Dissertation 2013
Holly Doron
Birmingham City University, UK
The design studio’s central role in architecture pedagogy is apparently under threat. In the context of current technological, economic and social challenges, the studio as a typically resource-intensive facility (Borden et al, 2010. p. 13) seems to be an endangered entity. The protracted economic crisis, combined with increased tuition fees, university space charging, centralised room booking and reduced capital spending, means that architecture ‘[d]epartments are increasingly valued according to the amount of the outside money they bring in value engineering and reengineering have begun to be applied to academic ranks.’ (Fisher, 2001. p. 3)

It is now likely that many Part II students will graduate with £100,000 of debt (Hunter, 2012. p.88). As a consequence, it is increasingly common for full-time students to take low paid employment and work longer hours in order to fund their study and living expenses, with an indication towards another endangered species: the full-time student.

This study examines how this changing environment will affect and influence the future of the studio in architectural education. It explores what studio culture is and whether it can endure. Perhaps surprisingly, the research reveals that these changes could not have come at a better time, or, more specifically, during a better equipped generation. These challenging circumstances are ideal to instigate a review of how architectural education develops through studio and how it can evolve, in a homeorhetic sense, to a model more suited to the Millennial and to other future generations. This includes questioning and testing the possible redundancy of physical studio and the inception of virtual studio.

The findings gained from this study will prove invaluable to further research; not just in terms of studio culture but also architectural education as a whole. From the perceptions of the student focus groups to the various approaches to logistical problems discussed in the academic interviews, from the personal explorations abroad and making new connections to the extensive data of the online survey: further integrated analysis of all these could yield further valuable insights into design pedagogy, student psychology and behaviour, and institutional policy.

Holly Doron

Ms Hannah Vowles
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