"Cross-Disciplinary Pedagogies" Presented @ 2013 CELA conference


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Studio Instructor: Michael Leighton Beaman

Student: Chris Sharkey

Course: Design V Studio

University of Texas in Austin, School of Architecture


There exist a number of pedagogical approaches to considering process in a design studio curriculum. Many of these establish a bias towards either systems logic or formal logic as an operative design methodology. The systems-based approach seeks to find and exploit physical processes and temporal cycles, while the formal approach tends to advance material, spatial, visual and haptic investigations. Both of these have correlations to practice and theory. What is at stake in education is the ability to prepare students for managing and applying the complex relationships between systems and forms inherent in any constructed environment, and to do so by leveraging the computational abilities of design technologies.

As educators, our pedagogical approaches to breaking-down and demystifying complexities and relationships are part of a crucial consideration when conceiving and developing a course. The disciplines of Landscape Architecture, Architecture and Urban Design have different understandings of system and form - developing discipline-specific curricula to address each. Examining the differences in these curricular frameworks exposes a latent synthesis, which can refocus education on the relationships between system and form that cross design disciplines.

This paper will outline a pedagogical approach that exposes this latent synthesis through the incorporation of digital/computational technologies within the studio environment. Our intent is to span disciplinary differences and project new cross-disciplinary pedagogical models by explicitly working with data as a core material of design. The incorporation of digital/computational technologies early in the educational career of students provides a means for understanding how system and form are related and interconnected on a fundamental level; and in effect, generates a capacity for rigorous and clearly defined research and design processes.