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EDITORIAL

Abstract
By : Dr Jia Beisi

 
Halfway through the first decade of the 21st century, expectation of the future and historical nostalgia co-exist. This tacit uncertainty is compounded by the painfully explicit fact that, in both architectural practice and education, theory and experimental application are awash in confusion. Nevertheless we have never been so clear about identifying the problem architecture poses in relation to the environment - and the problem architectural education faces in addressing the social and economic realities of everyday life. In the architectural design studio, students typically grope around in an ideological fog, if not a complete vacuum. This is not to say students should or must espouse any "ideology", as it were; however, in the absence of a clear, well-considered, well-articulated intent, students almost invariably pursue superficial effects by default, however fashionable or extraordinary. Perhaps this is because, in reality, everybody seems to quietly know that nobody could realistically hope to even design a truly complete bathroom, let alone a complete building! Yet, for some strange reason, the tradition of promoting the illusory, egocentric dream of a creating an image-driven, monumental architecture to innocent fledgling architects hasn't changed since Renaissance times. Fortunately, a group of architectural educators decided to make a modest change, and this issue of OHI reviews some of their efforts. What are the indicators of a problematic architectural studio? Kelbaugh cites seven aspects to reflect his concerns. Architecture and its process of creation are perceived as individualistic, subjective, and often inaccessible "art"; or, as the creation of new and extremely special objects, as one-off buildings; or, as media graphics - all of which serve special-interest groups apparently unconcerned with the profligate consumption of energy and resources needed to realize these private dreams. To reverse the tradition, he suggests that urbanism and sustainability are the most promising and synergistic sponsors of good architecture today. Habraken believes current architectural studio education has failed to bring students to consider three basic questions architecture must address: (1) how values are shared in a built environment, (2) how change and performance make the environment live; and (3) how the distribution of design responsibilities can make architecture blossom. He criticizes the traditional pattern of studio teaching in which a group of students is unwillingly dragged into the idiosyncratic, if not selfindulgent, world of the studio "master" who asks obtuse questions only he can answer to his satisfaction. Habraken even suggests architectural education, if it is to be true, should come from outside of the architectural studio. How shall we reform the architectural studio? And, once reformed, how will students react? How will they perform in it? What are the consequences at each year of architectural program? Starting from the first year, Jia assesses a studio programme in which the basic questions of built environment - the value of constraints, transformation and distribution of responsibility - were systematically introduced. He analyzes the students' reactions and performance in line with students' learning styles found using Kolb's Learning Style Inventory (LSI). He suggests that by enhancing diversity of learning styles the studio may become a platform in which students may learn from each other more effectively. Herr & Howe introduced a second-year program which required groups of students to negotiate the design of individual projects and community areas within a given generic structural frame to create a Vertical Village. Kendall's paper offers some examples of both Open Building studio projects and "warm-up" exercises given in the thirdyear studio setting. Here, students honestly embrace constraints or rules within which a real design creativity can be appreciated from "the real world". Although there are no final projects here - these are to be made by others later - these warm-ups are significant. They challenge current studio tradition by validating the notion that different parts of the same building are actually designed by different architects. For example, one studio can be conducted by different tutors from different levels of experience, and at different project phases. Finally, Martin-Chavez brought his final-year students into a real-life urban relocation initiative in Mexico City which resulted with an Open Building methodology. Based on their investigation of traditional housing typologies, and the casestudy families living in their chosen focus area, they designed a support structure which can accommodate immediate relocation needs as well as other future changes.

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