Sunday, 22 February 2015

CASE STUDY: Architecture Live Projects

What happens in the module?

This module is a core module for students on the Masters in Architecture (MArch).

Students work together in groups over six weeks to complete a community design project. Live Projects were born out of a desire to open up opportunities for students to work with community groups out in the city and further afield while still being supported by the School of Architecture. Students are encouraged to explore how people can effectively participate in the design and construction of the buildings that affect them.

Students leave the course with an unusual blend of design skills. Being able to talk to clients, work collaboratively, develop briefs, and work with people in a real project, helps students to stand out.

How do students develop their capabilities?

Authentic Problem Solving: Students are given a brief which comes from a real client – usually from the public sector or from non-profit organisations that otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford to fund an architectural project. Students have to investigate and incorporate the experiences and needs of a real group of people. They also work with real constraints – they have a tight deadline, and have to consider the resources available both to themselves and the client.

Innovation and Creativity: This is fundamentally a design project, and the challenge for students is to come up with an innovative design that still meets the needs of their clients.

Risk-taking: With this challenge, there is no ‘right’ answer. Students may produce iterations of their design that then receive poor feedback from the client. They have to learn from this feedback and continue to develop their ideas. Students also need to consider the potential impact their project would have on real communities and stakeholders.

Taking Action: Students work as self-directed groups, and have to show initiative in their interactions with the client, with communities, and with each other.

True Collaboration: Students to interact professionally and productively with the client. They also have to work together as strong, professional teams.

What did students think of this?

"My experience of the Live Projects was invaluable. The Live Projects demand ideas which contain depth, creativity and logic and most importantly a confidence to present ideas to real life clients – this kind of experience is often hard to acquire even after years of being in practice. Even now, it is still proving to be something of an ace card during interviews."
Alexandra Jones, MArch, 2006-07


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