The Conference Workshop focused on a number of key aspects of design and research: methods of design, forms and techniques of visual and verbal representation, and comprehensive operational strategies, as practiced by both entry level and senior teachers, who are active in courses or studios or both. The intention was to open a broad debate in order to encourage innovation in architectural study, when considering historical or theoretical research combined with creative production. Several media of understanding and production entered into the discussion: drawings and models, of course, but also, and no less importantly, verbal description, analysis, and interpretation. The interaction between these dimensions was a key topic for discussion, with a working premise that precisely this interaction, the interplay of ostensibly distinct forms of articulation- words and works- constitutes the basic framework of design as research. The deliberations amongst participants not only revealed different modes of their specific research but offered a deeper understanding of this particular- particularly architectural- way of developing knowledge.
By Liat Savin, PhD in Architecture, Azrieli Alumna
These papers were written by studio teachers who are also practicing architects. Since this situation reflects the condition of faculty members at most architecture schools in Israel, it seems that their parallel perspectives and their condition of being “one leg here and the other leg there” are crucial for understanding undergraduate programs of architectural education. Moreover, this straddling of the professional and academic worlds is a unique trait, one that distinguishes instructors at undergraduate programs of architectural studies from those at other academic programs at the university. In architectural education, being a practitioner—one who sees, feels and understands how things really are in the material, physical world outside the realm of academic research and knowledge—is not only considered valuable but also essential. In order to understand what it means to conduct research in architecture, therefore, one must consider these parallel perspectives—of being inside and outside— in both the metaphorical and literal senses of the word. In order to understand what the essence of the research project in the architectural studio is, as it is formulated and performed by teachers who are also practitioners, we must ask what it is that they see from their own particular dual position. When and where are they really “inside” the process? How do they cope with the ambiguous and sometimes rocky road in each part of their professional and academic life? How does the relatively protected realm of the academy, the “greenhouse,” contribute to a research project that cannot be achieved on the outside? What does the rough, highly utilitarian and financially driven process of “real” architectural planning contribute to or take away from architectural research? How does one pass on this knowledge and experience to students? How does one avoid harming the young “plants” in the “greenhouse” while also cultivating them for the professional world? In the following essays three studio teachers who are also practitioners discuss their own ways of creating this complex pedagogy through their unique understanding of research in architecture.