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Learning-by-making: design-build studios at the School of Architecture at the University of Tasmania


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Wallis, LH 2005 , 'Learning-by-making: design-build studios at the School of Architecture at the University of Tasmania', Research Master thesis, University of Tasmania.

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By examining the Learning-by-Making (LBM) studios at the School of Architecture, University of Tasmania (SA UTas) the educational benefits to students of LBM are identified. LBM studios allow student groups of twenty or more to collaboratively design and build a small timber project. These types of studios have developed as a regular part of the School curriculum since 1994. In doing this study, detailed information was generated on student learning experiences and their perceptions of LBM, as previously only anecdotal evidence from lecturers in LBM and similar studios was available.

The Literature Review identifies the origins of LBM studios in architectural education and its contentious relationship with higher education, the background of LBM studios in Tasmania and other similar models in North America (commonly referred to as Design/Build studios) and Australia. A surprising revelation was the absence of research examining this pedagogical model. Consequently, several methods used to evaluate education curricula were reviewed for their suitability. The Illuminative Model (a qualitative research method, using observation, questionnaire and interviews) was selected, as it provided an appropriate strategy to investigate the LBM model. It allowed the scope of the study to be progressively refined in response to new knowledge, as preliminary data was reviewed, informing the development of subsequent stages.

The findings indicate that an ‘average’ student participating in a LBM studio, spent half of their time engaged in high-level problem solving and cognitive activities, even though LBM studios require a lot of time to be spent on repetitive motor tasks. At the same time, students’ learning experiences varied and this was a consequence of the teamwork structure and students’ own willingness to experiment with ideas or construction. Despite students’ varying learning experiences, the majority recognised the advantages of integrating design and construction concepts (an underlying principle of LBM studios).

This study contributes to the methodological discourse of evaluating architectural education and identifies a number of Schools of Architecture that employ the LBM model, thus presenting further research opportunities. This study has only begun to identify and understand the potential benefits of LBM studios for architecture students. However, importantly, it has established that students’ perceptions of design and architecture alter, as they begin to appreciate the critical role that construction plays in the process of executing their ideas beyond imagining, into a built form.

Item Type: Thesis - Research Master
Authors/Creators:Wallis, LH
Keywords: Design build studios Architectural design studio Live projects Architecture Education
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© 2005 the author

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