studies in architectural narratives and digital design / secuencia de talleres de arquitecturas y narrativas digitales


……Architecture school, and universities in general, need to focus on developing the ability to think critically, the ability to think objectively. University should be a place to discover the inner workings of your own mind. How you think, what you think, and why you think the way you do…….

…..There is no way that school can prepare us for everything. Every program has strengths and weaknesses....schools should reinforce the importance of self-guided learning, encourage initiative... and fundamentally, set students up to be successful life-long knowledge sponges. My best hires are those who bring new knowledge and skills with them from what they do after hours. To develop and reinforce these good habits, schools should address critical/strategic thinking and communications skills…..

….I wish I had been more prepared for the constant changing whims of my clients, value engineering due to cost, dealing with needs and wishes of the entire team, and working through some of the odd things codes and zoning force you to do. Being prepared for these things means really understanding the core of what you are trying to do so you can either defend what you are doing, or you can make drastic changes and be able to keep a design under control…..incorporating constant changes is a constant challenge, and requires true creativity. It also means doing good work without getting to attached to our precious creations. This requires mental discipline and intellectual rigor……

….We depend on clients, we depend on working with other people….Projects traditionally come with loads of constraints, and a designer has a certain space for maneuver……We have to practice critical thinking to navigate within a field of constraints, to negotiate our way beyond them…..It allows us to advance our own agenda….. and to discover hidden layers to each project…..scratching beneath the surface, gives the designer knowledge and a deeper understanding in order to be better equipped to act…...

…..Students are supposedly being prepared for practice, but they are usually led to think of themselves as independent designers, which is a rare condition in real life. The larger, team- oriented form of practice is often poorly understood and sometimes denigrated, although it is now the dominant and most vital structure in the profession……


even though there are alternative structures that aim to lessen the instructor’s influence and increase the range of assessment methods to cover self- and peer-assessment in order to provide more empowerment to the students and to allow them more involvement with their learning, most studio cultures are based on a strictly hierarchical model [1] that emphasizes student work produced individually, promotes over-reliance on desk critiques [2], and is based in confrontation/competition rather than collaboration [3].

problematic pedagogical situations created by fixing the student in a rigid master-apprentice situation include the copying of the tutor’s own architectural approach [4] as the only source for ‘answers’ and the incapacity of the students in taking initiatives, responsibility and possession of the assigned projects. outcomes of this setting may be questionable as participants of such a model, especially in the early stages of their studies, may become quite dependent on their teachers, and feel insecure until they receive either or both approval and explicit guidance for the advancement of their projects. in addition to possibly generating a lack of self confidence, the setting also seems to reduce their capacities as risk takers/active learners.

As different architectural schools promote different types of studio cultures [5], ranging from traditional to experimental [6], other educational theories [7] however, emphasize on teaching how to learn versus simply transmitting knowledge and aim to develop individuals by acknowledging their own cognitive systems. By knowing more about learning styles and catering to the needs arising from it, educators can help develop ‘multiple modes of thinking’ among students, where there are no fixed methods or fixed goals.

creativity and knowledge in architectural education

In architectural education, active learning [8] takes place when students question theories of design, relate these theories to the task at hand, and engage in a creative process of discovery. It is today commonly held that a curriculum that makes the students responsible for their own learning process will encourage creativity. In contrast to traditional teaching methods, where the instructor is responsible for teaching and the student for learning, in the student-centered approach teachers should serve as “facilitators of learning” and support the students in their endeavor [9].

Aims of architectural design education in particular, should therefore include directing students to formulate tools which can stimulate research for creative solutions [10] and embrace open collaborative approaches [11].

creative ability is developed through assignments that allow students to explore central themes in the domain over extended periods of time, emphasize process as well as product, and provide opportunities for research, experimentation and revision [12] . the teacher must encourage students to integrate production with perception and reflection, and to engage in self-assessment.

teaching techniques that promote creative thinking rely on using various shifts in perspective that allow the designer to see new relationships from different angles and consist of associative thought processes that allow new connections to be made or patterns recognized from a number of variables to generate ideas [13]. These techniques cannot design a building and lack a comprehensive methodology to do so. They do form the building blocks for creativity.

information transfer/shared knowledge maps

The act of designing is linked to the act of deciding [14]. Students who achieve a level of sophistication in their design work, are generally able to make good decisions during the design process. Good decision making comes when a student is able to recognize and comprehend all the different facets of the situation at hand and to consider multiple possible solutions to determine which most appropriately addresses the situation.

in the proposed design studio, two main assignments are meant to help develop a thought process that emphasizes on decision making: 1-the publication of a semester-long journal/blog and 2-a design exercise based on mapping concepts as a series of characteristics or facets. the design problems assigned in the studio (around which the blog posts and graphic narratives navigate) are based on issues about translations and typological analysis and require both convergent and divergent thinking [15].

acknowledging widespread confusion and disagreement surrounding assessment practices for design creativity [16], students are meant not to provide a ‘set of solutions’ for these information transfer exercises but to generate a ‘set of design rules, strategies, techniques and processes’ as the means to get you there [17]. These open ended design proposals may be characterized as unfinished narratives that begin to map relationships between analogies, metaphors, and ideas.


architecture in this design studio context is understood as a dynamic system of relationships and design as the capacity to imagine, prototype, critique and implement possible futures. In a rapidly changing world with many possible edge-of-control projects [18], which ones do we choose? Given the impossibility of definitive forecasting, one ought to prepare for multiple possible and incompatible futures. Critical pedagogies are effective for such preparations because they encourage conflict as a strategy that is capable of sustaining multiple alternatives. Outside of architecture schools, architectural-computing workshops have become particularly important for cultivation of multiplicity


1. ….in this sort of academic structure, basically based on the medieval master-disciple model, students’ voices are not approved until the point where the master has deemed them valuable….as a result, we don’t have an idea of partnership–intellectual and even philosophical–between student and teacher…what we have is really kind of a model in miniature of what the profession does itself….I’m interested in a Socratic method of teaching in which the student and the teacher are accountable to each other for how they debate things…..students aren’t given enough autonomy in terms of being asked to be responsible for setting the tone of their voice, how they speak, how they debate, and how they argue their points. That’s not the case in other fields. If you look at the sciences or medicine, senior researchers and graduate students are coworkers on projects. In architecture, we have this very antique model–and again it’s mostly patriarchal–of information and ideas being handed down from elder to young people…..Peter Zellner,

2. The desk critique (crit) has been one of the main elements of the architectural educational environment, the crit is a setting in which student and teacher periodically discuss work in progress in a one-on-one setting. such setting may lead students to a passive problem solving attitude which over-relies on the educators’ coaching and viewpoints. it is been argued that this pedagogical model may hinder active learning and the development of independent thinking. In most individualized desk critiques the professor typically takes the role of instructor, making observations and giving suggestions which the student then follows without further consideration. Contrarily, in group critiques, where the professor assumes the role of discussion facilitator, students are required to take on the role of critic, as they analyze, discuss and make suggestions for their classmates’ design projects. In this way, the individual student does not simply follow instructions, but engages in the higher level of thinking required for critique.

3. changing the primary delivery method of students’ work from independent projects to group or open source networked creative clusters in which the participants share the development of tools and techniques helps to produce lasting value by distributing responsibility and control, wasting less energy in redoing things, and enabling broader access to ideas. Such a move is also in line with reforming the social culture of design schools by halting perpetuation of the myth that architects should strive to be singular geniuses rather than part of a multi-talented team.

4. ……Quayle states that there are three major profiles of the tutor: Instructor as source of expertise or authority; Instructor as coach or facilitator; Instructor as “buddy”… is difficult to sustain a continuous position of the different profiles….as the profiles of students are also different…

5. The studio as an architectural space provides a physical setting for developing specific modes of learning styles and combinations based on the interactions between those present within it. learners and tutors are both caught up in a complex web of relationships of power between the professional body, the architectural school, and the inherent values and codes of the discipline. It is not clear whether learning dispositions undergo a change in the studio or whether students are pre-screened with these learning dispositions through entry level requirements. a study on different learners at different stages of the architecture degree suggests that students are trained to adapt to the preferences and value systems of the schools and tutors they attend. Wilson M. A. (1996). The Socialization of Architectural Preference. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 16 (1), 33-44.

6. traditional teacher-centered methods in which teachers directly convey knowledge to students are frequently preferred in educational environments where science is perceived as a body of knowledge versus as a method of exploration, and where students are expected to learn theories about the phenomena versus researching on the behaviour of the phenomena.

7. Many models of learning exist within mainstream educational literature of which experiential learning, student autonomy in learning, and self-directed learning are a few  that are critical to architectural education. Fry H., Ketteridge S. & Marshall S. (Eds.). (1999). A handbook for teaching and learning: Enhancing academic practice. London: Routledge Falmer. A collection of essays that examines ways in which teachers in higher education can enable students to become more autonomous in their learning: that is, how students can learn without the constant presence or intervention of a teacher. The introduction by David Boud discusses the trend in education towards a more autonomous learner.

8. There are different levels of learning with deep and surface learning understood as two ends of the scale. Deep learning reflects the development of critical thinking and personal development among learners, while surface learning reflects the mere acquisition of knowledge and skills. how then can educators create conditions where deep learning can take place? some argue that ownership and empowerment lies at the heart of deep learning (Clark R., 1994. Student opinion of flexible teaching and learning in higher education. In Wade W. (Eds.). Flexible learning in Higher Education).

9. Elton, L. (2006). Assessing creativity in an unhelpful climate. Art, Design & Communication in Higher Education, 5(2), 119-130. teaching models based on transforming students from knowledge consumers to knowledge producers that seek 1-not to create a teacher-student relationship as a knowing-not knowing polarity but rather as part of an environment where the learner experiments and experiences the act of designing with the support of the instructor.

10. Students who have an education based on memorizing will experience some difficulties with making an interpretation of theoretical knowledge, particularly at the beginning of the design process.

11. Rau & Heyl assert, “Collaborative learning clearly establishes its superiority over individualistic and competitive modes of learning. Isolated students do not learn as much or as well as students who are embedded in a network of informal social relations”. It is important when applying successful collaborative learning to shift the student’s role from a passive receiver into an active participant. Therefore, each team member should be responsible for helping their peers, not only for learning what is taught, but also for creating an atmosphere of achievement…….Springer stated that “What students learn is greatly influenced by how they learn, and many students learn best through active, collaborative, small-group work inside and outside the classroom”…….The communication and coordination between participants helps as well in shaping their personalities.

12. Lindström, L. (2006). Creativity: What is it? Can you assess it? Can it be taught? International Journal of Art & Design Education, 25(1), 53-66. knowledge does not bring creativity every time: Since it has been shown in a study by Weisberg (2004) titled “Creativity and Knowledge: A Challenge to Theories” , every person who has the knowledge does not necessarily create innovative designs

13. As Casakin (2007: 22) explains, “the exploration of unfamiliar and unconventional design solutions requires creative skills […] Creativity enables the talented designer to transcend conventional knowledge domain[s] so as to investigate new ideas and concepts which may lead to innovative solutions”; it enables the designer “to perceive a problem from unorthodox and innovative perspectives” (Casakin, 2007: 21). When conventions are challenged, design moves from routine solutions towards innovative, non-routine solutions. Though design activities encapsulate the spectrum from routine to non-routine design, the groundbreaking designs are those which possess innovative and creative qualities; that is, design that changes the design variables in such a way that the results are solutions that were previously unknown (innovative design) or design that introduces new variables and that subsequently produces entirely new products (creative design) (Gero & Maher, 1993).

14. In order to produce students who command a knowledge base more profound than that of disconnected facts, we must teach them the process of critical thinking. In terms of design, critical thinking is the means by which designers observe, learn, analyze and make decisions.

15. convergent (diagrams of abstract, essential elements) vs divergent (exploration of many possible solutions that fit); ranking variables into hierarchical patterns; sorting and segregating variables into likeminded categories and patterns; narratives to explore relationships and patterns; abstract geometric pattern matching and breaking; contextual analysis and pattern matching and breaking; analogies to quickly generate possible end solutions; transforming prototypes into workable solutions; metaphors, signs, symbols and aesthetic language patterns to tell a narrative or give meaning.

16. three key problems related to assessing creativity in design education: 1- a lack of understanding of the pedagogical dimensions of creativity in architecture and design; 2- a lack of appropriate strategies to understand where different levels of creativity occur and how they should be assessed; and, 3- a lack of appropriate models or tools to support the assessment of the creative component of design.

17. High creativity usually occurs when a problem is ill defined (Simon, Newell and Shaw 1962; Rowe 1982; Dillion 1982; Getzels 1982) or so complex (too many unconstrained variables) that the problem becomes ill defined. In these problems, neither the solution nor method for obtaining the solution is apparent. Peter Rowe (1982) calls these “wicked problems” in that their ends and means are both unknown and there are many plausible solutions and strategies for solving the problem. This is in contrast to well defined problems that offer little opportunity for creativity and are usually easy to design, where the solution is obvious from the start, or offers a process that yields the same result all the time. Rowe argues that tackling a highly creative problem requires a starting point that involves speculating on one or more possible ideas of what the end form might look like to suggest a plausible set of design rules, strategies, techniques and processes as the means to get you there. These end solutions are characterized sometimes as analogies, metaphors, relationships and concepts as ideas, and hints, only to start the creative process; they are not solutions in themselves or developed prototypes which typically offer little creativity beyond modification.

18. Design management is a field of inquiry that uses project managementdesign, strategy, and supply chain techniques to control a creative process, support a culture of creativity, and build a structure and organization for design.