The design studio as liminal space

Williams, J. 2013. The design studio as liminal space. AAE Conference 2013. Nottingham Trent University 03 - 05 Apr 2013 Nottingham Trent University: CADBE.

TitleThe design studio as liminal space
AuthorsWilliams, J.
TypeConference paper

The context of this research focuses on the efficacy of design studio as a form of teaching and learning.

The established model of project-based teaching makes simple parallels between studio and professional practice. However, through comparison of the discourses it is clear that they are of different character.
The protocols of the tutorial tradition can act to position the tutor as a defender of the knowledge community rather than a discourse guide for the student.
The question arises as to what constitutes the core knowledge that would enable better self-directed study. Rather than focus on key knowledge, there has been an attempt in other fields to agree and share ‘threshold concepts’ within disciplinary knowledge. Meyer and Land describe threshold concepts as representing “a transformed way of understanding, or interpreting or viewing something without which the learner cannot progress [1]. The tutor’s role should be to assist in transforming student’s understanding through the mastery of the ‘troublesome knowledge’ that threshold concepts may embody.
Teaching and learning environments under such approaches have been described as ‘liminal’: holding the learner in an ‘in-between’ state new understanding may be difficult and involve identity shifts.
Research on the consequence of pressures on facilities and studio space concur, and indicate that studio spaces can be much better used in assisting the path of learning [2].
Through an overview map of threshold concepts, the opportunities for blended learning in supporting student learning in the liminal space of the design studio become much clearer [3]
Design studio needs to be recontextualised within the discourse of higher education scholarship, based on a clarified curriculum built from an understanding of what constitutes its threshold concepts. The studio needs to be reconsidered as a space quite unlike that of the practitioner, a liminal space.

1. Meyer, J.H.F. and R. Land, Threshold concepts and troublesome knowledge. Overcoming Barriers to Student Learning: Threshold concepts and troublesome knowledge., 2006: p. 19.
2. Cai, H. and S. Khan, The Common First Year Studio in a Hot-desking Age: An Explorative Study on the Studio Environment and Learning. Journal for Education in the Built Environment 2010. 5(2): p. 39-64.
3. Pektas, S.T., The Blended Design Studio: An Appraisal of New Delivery Modes in Design Education. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 2012. 51(0): p. 692-697.

Keywordsdesign studio, threshold concepts, blended learning, liminal space.
ConferenceAAE Conference 2013
PublisherNottingham Trent University: CADBE
Book titleAssociation of Architectural Educators AAE Inaugural Conference, Nottingham Trent University, 3rd to 5th April 2013: proceedings
Web address (URL) of conference proceedings
Web address (URL)

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