Issue: Volume 8 Issues 1 and 2

April 2016


Live projects across the disciplines

Jane Anderson, Christina Godiksen and Harriet Harriss

Live Projects in the discipline of architecture have been described as a form of ‘proto-practical learning that takes place in... View Article

Research paper

Ethical dilemmas in managing and teaching live sponsored student projects

Tricia Austin
Live projects, involving real places, real issues and real users are usually welcomed by art and design students and staff as valuable test beds for learning and research. Live projects release students from the tyranny of the screen and counteract self-referential paper projects by immersing students in the grain and complexity of the physical, social and political world at large. However, live projects also raise a number of issues that have not been widely discussed and which deserve examination. This paper explores ethical dilemmas that arise from sponsored student design projects and reflects on how these can also surface in pro bono live projects. The paper concludes by advocating a framework for good practice informed by staff, student and client feedback, as well as the live projects protocols that have been created by the Innovation Centre at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London.

Research paper

Found in translation? Reconfiguring the river edge of Cochrane, Patagonia, a travesía project of the Valparaíso School

Mary Ann Steane, David Jolly and David Luza
A live project in Cochrane, Patagonia, termed a journey or travesía, whose aim was to reshape an important threshold between the town and its wilderness setting involved a group of staff and students from PUCV (Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso) sharing a life in common for a fortnight in November 2013.  Taking errantry in post-colonial discourse on identity as its theoretical point of departure, and using the Cochrane project as a case-study, this paper examines an apparent paradox: that in a travesía the creativity of wandering must be allied to a strictly organised plan of campaign. Exploring how and why such a shared journey stimulates not only the acquisition of metis (practical wisdom or artful cunning), but a new capacity to ‘make the land speak’, it draws attention to the risk-taking negotiation skills on which wayfarers depend. Importantly the travesía is shown to be a form of learning-to-build whose arena for insightful play transforms design into an essentially collaborative transaction. Finally, the paper discusses why, as a kind of time-limited ‘trial’ away from Valparaíso to prepare students for the battle of practice, the travesía chooses some but not all the limits and opportunities of ‘liveness’.

Research paper

To what extent can live projects contribute to creating entrepreneurial learning environments? A critical evaluation of the MBA Enterprise Elective

Richard Beresford and Nicolette Michels
The paper provides a critical evaluation of the extent to which live projects on the Oxford Brookes MBA enterprise module can support the creation of entrepreneurial learning environments. The main premise argued is that entrepreneurial learning cannot be achieved through traditional class-based environments with pedagogical approaches, rather that entrepreneurial learning is an andragogical process which enables rather than determines student learning. Live projects provide such an opportunity and particularly provide for an environment in which students can be stimulated to do something entrepreneurial which requires an investment of self and in doing so learn experientially, including through failure. There are obvious challenges in adopting this approach: to students, who have been acculturated into seeking greater clarity and uncertainty; to clients, many of whom want solutions not simulated experiments, and to universities who have to balance the tension between the two.  It is argued nevertheless that these tensions need to be managed If we are to equip graduates with the skills and attributes to manage and lead in an increasingly complex and uncertain world.

Research paper

Live projects: Innovating in the present

Bo Tang and Maurice Mitchell
Setting boundaries is a creative act. Harnessing the idea of student involvement and engagement in live projects to their architectural education is difficult. Attempting to define what a live project actually is in this situation has required a lot of self-searching by architectural educators. Whilst it is an accepted condition of mainstream practice that timescale, budget and brief are matched with intention and design before works starts on site, it is not at all clear that such a definitive bounding of the project is in the students’ best interest in a learning environment. This paper looks at the work of the Architecture of Rapid Change and Scarce Resources (ARCSR) research cluster, and assesses the relationship between boundary setting and changing intentions; speculating on the effect of changing intentions on the education of the student. The value of live projects for students involves to a large extent the value of the present moment of active engagement with concrete reality. With the rising cost of university education and a parallel increase in the adoption of live projects at architecture schools, new approaches to learning are required that operate on a different set of principles to those geared towards training architects for large scale, office based practice. Students should be encouraged to experiment and innovate using incremental, iterative and reflective processes embedded in a real setting and tested in the present.

Research paper

A case study of interdisciplinary live projects in art and chemistry

Sam Illingworth, Megan McLean and Daksha Patel
This article describes a set of interdisciplinary live projects that were carried out at Manchester Metropolitan University over the summer of 2014, between arts and chemistry undergraduate students. It was found that by working as part of an interdisciplinary team, the students were able to develop an understanding of the learning perspectives derived from different disciplines, thereby helping them to reflect on their own approaches to process and development. However, a number of difficulties also arose, mainly because of logistical and communication issues. By reflecting on the respective accomplishments and difficulties of the projects, this study provides a set of recommendations for interdisciplinary live projects, which should help the development and implementation of future schemes within higher education.

Research paper

The live project and prototyping as a paradigm for linking teaching and research in the architectural design studio

Kirsten Orr
This paper presents a series of interrelated architectural design studios and technology electives at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) that ran over three years from 2009 to 2011. They involved a long running, live project partnership with Ku-ring-gai Council and integrated student collaboration with local fabricators, culminating in the 2014 construction of a prototypical park structure at Greengate Park in Killara, Sydney. In the context of the live project, the role of prototyping is explored as a specific form of inquiry-based learning that may optimise learning experiences applicable to architectural design and facilitate creative outcomes through linking teaching and research. It is increasingly being introduced into university architecture courses as an analogy to the activities employed by innovative professionals in architecture but the impressive visual imagery of student prototypes being produced is often divorced from any consideration of a broader theoretical context that might allow an assessment of pedagogical value. The question remains whether deep learning is occurring and whether the teaching processes and learning outcomes successfully link teaching and research. This paper identifies factors in the UTS case studies that influenced the students’ learning experiences and their development of the research skills necessary for practice-based research in architecture.

Research paper

From modern construction to postmodern social constructivism: defining the live project in architectural education

James Benedict Brown
This paper presents an historical survey of the live project in architectural education, proposing that the live project can be conceptualised within three distinct periods: a modern period, a transitional period, and a (contemporary) postmodern period. This paper proposes that an evolution from a modern conception of the live project to a postmodern conception provides insight to attitudinal shift in architectural education. In order to explore what pedagogical frameworks might we help to theorising these contemporary forms, the paper contextualises architecture live project practice against pedagogical mechanisms of client-centred learning in three other disciplines.