Iterating success : learning to change through understanding failure
McPherson, Peter; Pretty, Annabel
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Citation:McPherson, P. J., & Pretty, A. C. (2015, October). Iterating success: Learning to change through understanding failure. In D. K Brown, M. Manfredini, P. McPherson, A. Pretty, U. Riege, M. Southcombe (Ed.), 8th International Conference and Exhibition of the Association of Architecture Schools of Australasia (pp.34-42).
Permanent link to Research Bank record:https://hdl.handle.net/10652/3971
In 2012 a collection of architecture and design schools in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch came together under the umbrella of FESTA to realise a city of light within central Christchurch, devastated by the events of recent earthquakes. The aim of this project was to re-introduce life back to the city centre and provide the community of Christchurch a central city destination for one night. The large scale fabrication projects offered to students from 2012-2014, in collaboration with FESTA and other Architecture Schools, required students to realise built projects at a city scale. The learning that goes with taking a project from concept, scale model to mock-ups and full scale fabrication involves constant testing and re-testing of solutions, of failure and advancement. Large scale fabrication projects require students to work in a continually reflective way, responding to a number of variables, including very real ones of budget, site, client and technology. This paper reflects upon these live build projects and the requirement of students to continually explore design responses and develop their solutions through exploring an iterative design environment of prototypes, impressed upon them through the requirement to test and evaluate design proposals based upon real and theoretical design criteria. The most important quality in an architectural education would appear to be that of designing, given that this is the area the majority of time is spent. The importance placed on design would suggest that we believe that the act of designing can be taught, that when a student leaves his or her education they will be a better designer than when they entered1. The primary means for exploration of design in an architecture programme is the Design Studio. The traditional process for an architectural Design Studio is for a design brief, or project, to be set to students by the studio master to which students will present a series of responses for individualised critique and subsequent advancement. These proposals are normally (but not always) drawn from a limited study of precedents and adapted for the established conditions and will consist of drawings and physical and digital models. This will often be to establish some level of competency with regards a building typology or architectural idea, the back and forth occurring until such time as the learning objectives are met or, more often, as the project deadline materialises. Design process in this case will be disposed to focus on particular aspects deemed necessary for an architect to understand and forms an important part of one’s architectural education, exposing students to important characteristics of critical thinking, planning, composition, environmental considerations, technology, site, context and the like. Through this process a student becomes aware of things that they are required to understand as an architect but there is little opportunity for them to extend the exploration beyond the aims set out by the brief. Students are, as Donald Schön puts it, problem solving rather than problem setting and as such, have little opportunity to understand the process of designing.