This studio explored the role of architectural design in creating, supporting and/or reinvigorating communities. This design studio was one of the outcomes from the Learning Communities & Space Research & Industry Forum hosted by LEaRN.
This studio explored the role of architectural design in creating, supporting and/or reinvigorating communities. The word community is derived from the Latin word Communitas, meaning a group of people coming together to share a common experience. For the purpose of this thesis studio, the common experience is learning. Learning is a process of attaining new knowledge and skills through experience, study, formal and informal teaching. Learning communities can be intentional (i.e. peer groups interacting with one another and/or educators through mutual arrangement) or emergent (i.e. groups with similar interests forming organically through chance encounters, such as in public spaces, cafes, libraries, maker spaces etc.). Learners may be of all ages, and the knowledge or skills they seek may relate to formal education or professional development (i.e. high school certificates, diplomas, degrees); evolving human needs (i.e. language or financial planning, parenting); or lifestyle changes (i.e. health education, disease and illness management). In the 21st Century, our growing use on the Internet has resulted in the evolution of virtual learning communities, which are changing the traditional requirements of physical learning spaces.
The site for exploration of the issues and realisation of the architecture was St John’s College: a Greek Orthodox School in Preston with 300 junior, middle and senior years’ students. St John’s College has a genuine aspiration to reach out and engage with its local community, using a new fine arts education facility. St John’s College has a real project brief. The challenge of this studio lay in proposing, through research and architectural design how a building can be part of both the public and private realms and contribute positively to multiple scales of community and the environment (both ecological and social).
This studio was made up of 13 Masters of Architecture students, who over 14 weeks worked as an intentional learning community, focused on supporting one another to evolve and strengthen the skill set required to enter architectural practice as graduates. As part of the studio, students will be assessed individually against the Australian Institute of Architects (AIA) requirements for prospective architects, which are: “imaginative and creative thinking; ability to analyse and critically assess problems; ability to see the big picture as well as giving attention to the smallest detail; ability to communicate effectively; and demonstrate an understanding of history, and cultural and environmental concerns. The studio was highly structured, with regular site visits, workshops, seminars and guest critiques.
This design studio was one of the outcomes from the Learning Communities & Space Research & Industry Forum hosted by LEaRN in May 2015. The aim of the forum was to explore the intersections between (a) the contemporary narrative of ‘learning community’, (b) the materialised support required to foster learning communities, and (c) the social development of learning communities. The insights developed at the forum and in the design studio will be used to inform the 2015 LEaRN Partners Project which is exploring new opportunities in the Education and Health sectors to enhance community interaction and learning through architectural design.
Dr Philippa Soccio, Studio Leader
Banner: Student work by Caitlin Murray, Design Thesis 2015.