Building Design Knowledge through Materials Research

Srdja Hrisafovic and Charles Walker, University of Auckland

One of the most common criticisms of academia in the training of architecture students is the lack of practical, case–based experience which would prepare them for the “real world” of architecture. Of course, we must here acknowledge the de facto separation of idea and realisation not just for students, but also for practitioners (who after all produce drawings to be realised by others). Nevertheless, such critiques often also suggest a definition of the “real world” of architecture as a place where projects achieve a high degree of (formal and technical) resolution.

Many commentators would go on to identify other issues – such as clarity of communication, adherence to time and cost factors, real client input and civic values – as valid real-world concerns. Another frequent suggestion is that case-based projects allow students to be introduced to the process of design-in-practice. Much of this goes against the grain of recent academic trends – within our own school and elsewhere – that isolate “conceptual” concerns as the essence of architectural design.

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