Constructing Experience

Paper Presentation: Constructing experience: Exploring design/build strategies within a technology course

This paper was presented in October 2014 at the ACSA Fall Conference hosted by Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

Schwartz, C. (2014, October).  Constructing experience: Exploring design/build strategies within a technology course.  Working Out | Thinking While Building:  2014 ACSA Fall Conference, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

Abstract:  The pedagogy of design/build can be deployed in a wide variety of ways in an architectural curriculum. Despite common goals of breaking education free of the classroom, the exploration of architecture through experiential learning, and instilling within the students a more complete understanding of the practice of architecture (amongst other objectives), the different forms that design/build can take have a significant impact on course learning objectives and student outcomes.  A primary issue with design/build, as with most curricular constructs, then becomes balancing these objectives to optimize the learning experience for the students.

For the past several years, design/build has become an integral part of the second year introductory building technology course at Southern Illinois University. We have experimented with two distinctly different styles of design/build within the construct of this course.  The first involved the building of residential wall sections in the courtyard of the School of Architecture; the second was a more traditional community-based design/build centered on the construction of an amphitheater for an outdoor learning and event space located on university property.  Both design/build strategies carried with them opportunities for student engagement and learning.  However, a close examination of the response to the course learning objectives reveals significant advantages for the courtyard build over its more widely recognized community-based counterpart.  This paper presents a comparison of the two project types, outlines the experiences each offered the students, and concludes with the position that despite its popularity, community-based design/build may, in some situations, not be the best choice for delivering experiential building content in an architectural curriculum.

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