Between studio and street

Title: Between studio and street: the role of the live project in architectural education

Author: Rachel Sara

Year: 2004

Abstract: As a core element of architectural education, the design studio is the place where most aspects of the course are assimilated. However, it is criticised for failing to address key aspects of both practice and education. In response, live projects are beginning to be undertaken in schools of architecture in the UK, as a way of introducing real clients or users into the design studio, and taking students into the ‘real world’. Students often work in groups, in collaboration with other disciplines, and in the community, and are challenged to take on real issues, develop real relationships and often to make a real contribution.

This thesis traces a history of the design studio, provides a description and
critique of the current normative model, and summarises the criticisms of the
current system, followed by ways in which architectural educators are addressing these criticisms. Both the studio and live projects are then explored in the context of education theory and praxis. This discussion culminates with the presentation of examples of live projects. The following empirical study uses a combination of autobiography, case study and survey methods to establish: the
learning effects of live projects; what is perceived to be the important issues in
experiencing the live project; how and why these differ to the traditional studio

The research uses a feminist critique to expose the way that certain characteristics are conceptualised as being masculine and superior to others
(which are conceptualised as being feminine and subordinate). The feminist
position is thus focussed on reuniting and rebalancing polar opposites with the
intention of creating a more inclusive approach. Ultimately the position allows
both the masculine and the feminine to be celebrated for the benefit of both
women and men in the development of the studio and ultimately the profession.

This interpretative framework influences both the choice and approach to the
literature study as well as the methodology for the empirical study.The research
found live projects to be a valuable insertion into the studio repertoire. Students
develop a range of attitudes and skills that can be seen to enrich, critique and
develop those found in traditional studio work, and which contemporary
education models support. Alongside this, live projects develop the potential for
dialogue between the studio, the profession and the community. The culmination
of the research is a best-practice guide for the implementation of live projects.