Architectural Education in the Age of Globalization: when East meets West.


Session Chairs: Mónica Pacheco and Blaithin Quinn.

Mónica Pacheco Assistant Professor and researcher at DINAMIA’CET | ISCTE-IUL since 2004, Bartlett Visiting Research Fellow (2016). She holds a Dipl. Arch. (FA-UTL, 2000), a MA Housing and Urbanism (AA, 2004), and a PhD (FA-UTL, 2013). Recently she joined the AA Visiting Teachers Programme (2015). She has chaired sessions and published papers in the context of international conferences on issues related to ͞research by design͟; architectural education and representation; and participated in several international juris and workshops including the ADSL (University of Antwerp 2014-2016). She is currently developing a research on the history of the Tropical Architecture course at the Architectural Association and the heritage of its transnational network of expertise in architectural education.

Bridging the East – West Divide

Carla Keyvanian, Auburn University

This paper reports on an experimental effort concerning the teaching of architectural history in colleges and universities in the United States, where the National Architectural Accreditation Board has made a ‘global’ approach a requirement. In response to that requirement, textbooks have emerged in the last one or two decades that include a few isolated chapters dealing with non-Western traditions. Such chapters are paralleled in the classroom by equally token lectures, with little or no link to the main content of the course, that perfunctorily satisfy the requirement for an inclusive architectural history. In addition to the scarcity of supporting materials, a substantial obstacle is the background of teachers raised in the Western tradition who are now required to teach unfamiliar histories.

The author is a founding member of the Global Architectural History Teaching Collaborative (GAHTC), a group based at the Massachusetts Institute for Technology and funded by the Mellon Foundation that intends responding to such difficulties. The purpose of GAHTC is to produce sets of lectures for architectural history survey courses that will provide—rather than isolated accounts of various non-Western traditions—a broad-ranging understanding of the networks of exchange along which architectural ideas traveled, producing fruitful architectural hybrids. These lectures, and accompanying materials, will be freely available on the GAHTC website, which is scheduled to launch in November 2016. The intended audience is teachers of architectural history survey courses.

GAHTC views history teaching as a form of activism and civic participation. Its aim is to transform traditional and ideological notions about the unfolding of architectural history with a ‘grass-roots’ approach—starting in the classroom. Achieving that aim starts from a pragmatic approach that obviates to the scarcity of teaching materials that meaningfully portrayal the historical characteristics and exchanges of architectural traditions across the globe.

Educating architects: the realisation of local detail in the global context.

Sarah O’ Dwyer, Welsh School of Architecture.

Contemporary architects increasing work in a larger variety of environments and circumstances than their historic counterparts. The modern world is a global one, where the information age, educational and professional mobility and technology enable the barrier of physical distance to be removed and opens up foreign markets to both architecture students and professionals alike.

This manifests itself in architects learning and working in unfamiliar contexts and climates to those of their birth – oftentimes without physically visiting such places. Where historically architects could draw on their intrinsic understanding and experience in terms of understanding local custom, social norms and local microclimate; contemporary architects must use an adaptive set of skills to navigate this unfamiliar territory.

Concurrent to this, professionals are often working in large diverse design teams where the common ground is small and on ever–shifting sands. Both these factors converge to disenfranchise architects from finding a “way-in” to an unknown context.

This paper uses a case study approach of module “Environmental Design of Buildings” taught in Welsh School of Architecture. This module uses several pedagogical devices in order to teach contemporary architects how to work in such changing, unfamiliar contexts and within culturally diverse design teams. The aim of the module is to enable architects to design architecture architecture that is of its place rather than imposed down from above. This paper will draw on student work and experience to illustrate pedagogical strategies employed. Structures and devices used include distance learning, use of climate and site ‘buddy’ to verify findings, social interview, comparing known actualities to unknown, and use of both qualitative and quantitative information to round out an argument. The module draws on the diversity of the student body and uses this as a learning tool to address geographical, economic and social differences between known and unknown contexts.

Foundations: Re-framing Architectural Education in a Cross-Cultural World.
Laura Martínez de Guereñu, IE University.  Jose Velo Castillo,  IE University,
Olivia Valentine, Iowa State University.   Firat Erdim, Iowa State University


IE University (Segovia, Spain) is a young higher education institution that has emerged in response to the challenges posed by the contemporary world. The programs are taught in English and attract students from 5 continents, providing a multi-national and multi-cultural forum, unique in both the Spanish and larger EU contexts. The undergraduate architecture program must address strict licensing requirements that, upon graduation, enable students to practice in the EU as architects. These conditions situate the curriculum at the intersection of intra- and extra-disciplinary pressures: between the need to train students as technically proficient professionals, and the need to educate them as engaged global citizens within an uncertain, multicultural and complex world.

The goal of this paper is to present the theoretical base and the work developed in “Idea and Form,” which forms the foundation for tackling this dual obligation. Being the design studio subject of the first year, “Idea and Form” sets up the design approach of the entire program, which is further articulated in the larger design studio sequence through rigorous technical training; an international, multi-disciplinary internship program and alternative practices studios that expose students to other design disciplines, before developing a Thesis Project.

This paper will show how a new reality that is simultaneously intra- and extra-disciplinary, site-specific and cross-cultural, can be productively engaged by exploring the internal and external components of architecture (Space/ Landscape, Program/Culture) across an architectural frame. It will show how the understanding of architecture as frame allows students to navigate the different “worlds” in which they are immersed simultaneously, from the local backgrounds that accompany them from “home,” the redefinition of their new home in Segovia, and up to the wider frame of the multilayered societies in which they will live and practice in the future.


Against pedagogical colonisation: The case of the School of Architecture at the University of Costa Rica.
Natalia Solano-Meza, Faculty of Architecture of the University of Porto.


In an article written in 1983, in which he reflected on the Architectural Association’s experience in the Kumasi School of Architecture, John-Michel Lloyd described the attempts of teaching European Architectural Histories and Theories in non-Western countries as almost tragicomic: the Ghana context was amazingly distant from the European architectural culture, still, European ways of knowledge transfer persisted. The Kumasi case was not isolated, European ways of teaching architecture were used in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, despite the regions different colonial backgrounds. In the case of Latin America, schools often emulated the Beaux Art model. Created in 1970, by three Costa Rican architects, the pedagogical system of the School of Architecture of the University of Costa Rica proposed an absolute rupture with European methods of teaching architecture. In their dissertation, presented at the Department of Tropical Studies of the AA, Felo García, Jorge Bertheau and Edgar Brenes—the three Costa Rican architects—regarded education as an inherited mechanism that served to preserve old knowledge structures.
This paper explores the School’s pedagogical system main propositions regarding education and its links to the Department of Tropical Studies, where it was partially created, and to John-Michael Lloyd himself. Research suggests that for its creators, implementing their experimental teaching system served as a way to liberate architectural education from what can be referred to as “pedagogical colonisation”: the continuous use of foreign methods that inevitably reinforced an unbalanced relationship between Western metropolis and developing countries in terms of access to architectural knowledge. Discourse is constructed around archived documents and interviews with main actors.