The recent COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant effect on higher education institutions and in particular delivery of design and architectural education. The co-presence of educators and students and creating affordances for physical and material spatial experiences, as well as collaborative work, has long been at the heart of architectural education and its studio culture. This issue aims to capture the imminent changes that this pandemic promises and provide a platform for sharing pedagogic experiences, practices and perspectives for the future of architectural education.
The rapid global transition to a distanced and remote mode of education on the one hand has created inevitable challenges in executing conventional practice using foreign media. Most notably, this has largely removed the situated representational practices of drawing and making from architectural studio teaching, placing a significant reliance on the use of verbal language, while accelerating the shift to solely digital outputs. It has also called into question the preparedness of educators and learners in adopting alternative forms of educations and brought heightened attention to the affective dimensions of effective learning, adding transparency to the hidden aspects of curriculum delivery, such as how assessment is appropriated and approached by educators and learners alike. Lastly, it has challenged the importance of place and space in architectural education not only as sites of embodied knowledge production but also as the very subject matter of the discipline, in a society where architectural space implodes to the extreme interiority of isolation. The relevance of problems, issues and methodologies explored within architectural briefs and curricula, design values and the expectations of both the society and professional bodies from architectural graduates are in this context put into question.
Although there may be an expected temporality to this situation, it is also inevitable that changes in educational practice that have emerged from this crisis will have longer term implications for architectural pedagogy. This displacement after all aligns, to a degree, with pressures that have already been present: the shrinking of the space of architectural education due to the rising numbers of students; the shift to the virtual spaces of digitisation; the systemisation of assessment formulas. If, as a result of this pandemic, we can expect that previously speculative pedagogies will be further implemented into practice, what are the catalyst pedagogies, particular to architecture that might resist and condition this change? And, furthermore, how might these adapt to or appropriate such conditions and what are the threshold concepts that might emerge in the new era of architectural education?
This special issue of Charrette, calls for scholarly contributions re-evaluating architectural education and pedagogies within a global scale, sharing critical responses and novel experiences of architectural education practice, drawing from the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on higher education. These can arguably be considered as the foundation of a group of catalyst pedagogies, portraying the image of flexibility and adaptability in the changing landscape of architectural education.
Contributions can be made to one of the three categories of Charrette: Essay, Project or Freespace. Expressions of interest should be submitted by an Extended Abstract of 500 words to email@example.com by Wednesday 3 June 2020. Selected contributions will be invited to submit full papers for the Charrette 7(1) issue to be published in Spring 2021, by 1st September 2020.