Debating the Merits of Design|Build

Paper: Debating the Merits of Design/Build: Assessing Pedagogical Strategies in an Architectural Technology Course

Schwartz, C. (2015).  Debating the merits of design/build: Assessing pedagogical strategies in an architectural technology course. Journal of Applied Sciences and Arts, 1(1), 8-21.

Abstract:  The pedagogy of design/build can be deployed in a wide variety of ways in an architectural curriculum. Despite common goals – breaking free of the classroom, exploring through experiential learning, and imparting a well-rounded understanding of the practice of architecture – the particular construct of design/build utilized can significantly impact the overall quality of the educational experience for the students. As with most curricular constructs, the challenge is configuring projects to optimize student experience with the wide variety of constraints that come with the practice of building in an academic environment.

This paper explores the introduction of design/build into a foundation level technology course. For the past three years, architecture and interior design students have actively engaged their education through participation in two different styles of design/build projects. The first involved the building of residential wall sections in an on-campus outdoor lab; the second was the design/build of an amphitheater for a regional environmental education center. After three years of building, this paper is a reflection on the successes and failures of the projects undertaken. The study is concerned with determining the best means of delivering this type of content and learning experience to architecture and interior design students within the construct of a technology course. Although only preliminary, the initial findings suggest that, despite its popularity, community-based design/build may, in some situations, not be the best choice for delivering experiential building content in architectural courses.