Open Conference Systems, National Conference on the Beginning Design Student

Font Size: 
Architecture as Frame: Addressing New Challenges in Architectural Education
Firat Erdim, Olivia Valentine, Laura Martínez de Guereñu, José Vela Castillo

Last modified: 2016-12-15


The aim of this paper is to present the work developed in the Idea and Form I and II (IF1 and IF2) courses, which constitute the foundation architectural design studios at the XX XXXXXX xx XXXXXXX x XXXXXX in Spain. XX University is a young higher education institution that has emerged in response to the challenges posed by the contemporary world. The programs are taught in English and attract students from 5 continents, providing a multi-national and multi-cultural forum, unique in both the Spanish and larger EU contexts. The undergraduate architecture program must address strict licensing requirements that, upon graduation, enable students to practice in the EU as architects. These conditions situate the curriculum at the intersection of intra- and extra-disciplinary pressures: between the need to train students as competent professionals, and the need to educate them as engaged global citizens within an uncertain, multicultural and complex world.

The Idea and Form sequence provides a preliminary response to this context. For doing this, we have sought to approach design tools as framing an “architectural gaze” through which to engage the world. The frame so produced is a complex one, simultaneously an instrument of sight and a place of negotiation, a response to the given and a retooling of this given. Henceforth the engagement that must exist in a program that is simultaneously intra- and extra-disciplinary, site-specific and cross-cultural is made explicit in the way the internal and external components of architecture - Space/Landscape, Program/Culture - are addressed in this produced frame.

The Idea and Form sequence goes as follows: In IF1, which explores the relationship between domestic space and landscape, architectural fragments and framed landscapes form a hybrid, decontextualized threshold, which is then unfolded into an interior and exterior that must address a given program. In this way, the role of architecture in accommodating individual lives is interrogated across the frame. IF2 explores the relationship between program and culture in a broader context. Students are asked to propose innovative programs that address specific urban sites in Spain. In this way, cultural fragments and new social spaces are negotiated across civic frameworks. While in IF1 architecture is presented mainly as a material response to human activity in the private sphere, in IF2 architecture is presented primarily as a cultural production, developed to address the collective of the public domain.

The Idea and Form sequence introduces architecture as an open productive frame, one that has an agency in itself, that serves to reframe and that allows the students to engage with the world transformatively. In the process, they challenge the notion of common architectural notation, being compelled to design their own set of tools to cope with a world that exceeds the very frame through which it was usually described. In that sense, the students are not just doing exercises, but they are immersed in the process of designing the means through which architecture, and by extension the world, is understood.