Learning Environments in Design Studio Culture

Williams, J. 2016. Learning Environments in Design Studio Culture. AAE2016 Research Based Education. Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL, London 07 - 09 Apr 2016 The Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL.

TitleLearning Environments in Design Studio Culture
AuthorsWilliams, J.
TypeConference paper
Abstract

The paper reports on a study of design studio culture from a student perspective.
Learning in design studio culture has been theorised variously as a signature pedagogy emulating professional practice models, as a community of practice and as a form of problem-based learning, all largely based on the study of teaching events in studio.
The focus of this research has extended beyond formally recognized activities to encompass the student’s experience of their social and community networks, working places and study set-ups, to examine how these have contributed to studio culture and how there have been supported by studio teaching.

Semi-structured interviews with final year undergraduate students of architecture formed the basis of the study using an interpretivist approach informed by Actor-network theory, with studio culture featured as the focal actor, enrolling students and engaging with other actors, together constituting an actor-network of studio culture. The other actors included social community patterns and activities; the numerous working spaces (including but not limited to the studio space itself); the equipment, tools of trade and material pre-requisites for working; the portfolio enrolling the other actors to produce work for it; and the various formal and informal events associated with the course itself.

Studio culture is a highly charged social arena: The question is how, and in particular, which aspects of it support learning? Theoretical models of situated learning and communities of practice models have informed the analysis, with Bourdieu’s theory of practice, and his interrelated concepts of habitus, field and capital providing a means of relating individually acquired habits and modes of working to social contexts. Bourdieu’s model of habitus involves the externalisation through the social realm of habits and knowledge previously internalised. It is therefore a useful model for considering whole individual learning activities; shared repertoires and practices located in the social realm.

The social milieu of the studio provides a scene for the exercise and display of ‘practicing’ and the accumulation of a form of ‘practicing-capital’. This capital is a property of the social milieu rather than the space, so working or practicing in the company of others (in space and through social media) becomes a more valued aspect of studio than space or facilities alone. This practicing-capital involves the acquisition of a habitus of studio culture, with the transformation of physical practices or habits into social dispositions, acquiring social capital (driving the social milieu) and cultural capital (practicing-knowledge) in the process. The research drew on students’ experiences, and their practicing ‘getting a feel for the game’ by exploring the limits or boundaries of the field of studio culture.

The research demonstrated that a notional studio community was in effect a social context for supporting learning; a range of settings to explore and test out newly internalised knowledge, demonstrate or display ideas, modes of thinking and practicing.

The study presents a nuanced interpretation of how students relate to a studio culture that involves a notional community, and a developing habitus within a field of practicing that extends beyond teaching scenarios.

Keywordsdesign studio, student experience, habitus, practice-capital, studio culture.
Year2016
ConferenceAAE2016 Research Based Education
PublisherThe Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL
Publication dates
Published07 Apr 2016
Book titleaae2016 curiosity production risk participation
ISBN9780992948597
Web address (URL) of conference proceedingshttps://issuu.com/bartlettarchucl/docs/aae16_publication_volume1/1
Web address (URL)http://www.aae2016.org/?page_id=4223

Related outputs

Design Studio: A Community of Practitioners?
Williams, J. 2017. Design Studio: A Community of Practitioners? Charrette. 4 (1), pp. 88-100.

Site parade
Williams, J. 2016. Site parade. in: Brown, J.B., Harriss, H., Morrow, R. and Soane, J. (ed.) A gendered profession: the question of representation in space making London, UK RIBA. pp. 79-85

The design studio as liminal space
Williams, J. 2014. The design studio as liminal space. Charrette. 1 (1), pp. 61-71.

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.

Questioning historical research methodologies: the insights of a case study
Williams, J. 2000. Questioning historical research methodologies: the insights of a case study. Research and Architecture. Ecole d'Architecture Paris-Malaqais, Paris, France 04 Jul 2000 Leuven.

Elevated territories
Williams, J. and Shonfield, K. 2000. Elevated territories. in: Barley, N. and Ireson, A. (ed.) City levels Basel, Switzerland Birkhauser. pp. 28-65

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