Architectural Education

Architectural Education

Postby Brian Quinn » Fri May 21, 1999 1:38 pm

I would be interested in response / debate regarding the standard of education appropriate for schools of architecture. Specifically should a second year architecture student's design project pass if it fulfills the brief in terms of accommodation / technical etc but has little or no 'architectural aspiration'?
Brian Quinn
 

Postby snag » Wed May 26, 1999 8:35 pm

I think it should pass.....depends on how important the marks are. Is Bolton street still as woeful as it was a few years ago?
When you graduate and go for a job, it is bound to be largely on your portfolio rather than whether you got a 2.2 or 2.1.

Bolton Street used teach organic Chemistry and other irrelevant subjects, some strange vestiges of trying to validate the instotution as offering a 1920's concept of 'education.' Do they still do this?

I feel the standard of architectural education in Ireland is fairly abysmal.

Anyone else?
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Postby Brian Quinn » Sat May 29, 1999 5:32 am

The problem with allowing a pas is that in theory someone could qualify as an architect without having produced any architecture. Is that not what technical courses are for?
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Postby James McQuillan » Fri Jul 02, 1999 4:39 pm

It is impossible o answer this question in the abstract, as it were . . . there are so many variables, and architectural education is based partly on the premise that each student is in a process of improvement, judgement about which is made on her past and current performance, and allowance must be made for later development, earlier rather than too much later!

Such education is impossible to quantify in terms of simple slogans, so this subjet will not attract much comment.
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Postby fiachra » Fri Jul 02, 1999 5:38 pm

Surely one does not go to third level education to be 'taught'. One goes to read. A variety of subjects within third level courses helps expand the mind and the intellect. I agree with McQuillan. It's too easy to blame the 'system'.
fiachra
 

Postby Brian Quinn » Mon Jul 05, 1999 10:32 am

Fiachra states that third level education is reading instead of teaching. I agree though would it be more accurate to say that it is a combination of reading and teaching - the balance being open to discussion. The problem is that in my experience of 2nd year students to date is they rarely have the inclination to do so. There are those who do of course, but they are the minority. Most are at best struggling to emerge from the school/syllabus type of education or at worst putting in time to get a qualification etc.

My original question, however, centred on a dilemma where I am faced with assessing a scheme design which is adequate in terms of function but has no aspiration. I still think that it is valid to generalise about this as it seems to set out a principle. Surely the student is in the wrong course?
Brian Quinn
 

Postby J Lobb » Tue Jul 06, 1999 10:10 pm

Two questions:

1. What are we getting students to 'aspire' to? Does this mean anything more than inculcating them with middle class taste?

2. Assuming (of course) it isn't, if a student hasn't the drive to produce anything more than the mediocre minimum while in the hothouse of college, what are they likely to produce under the pressures of the commercial world? You've got to be cruel to be kind....
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Postby James McQuillan » Wed Jul 07, 1999 5:34 pm

'Aedequate in terms of function' seems to be the stumbling block here. There are a host of variables in assessing architectural design and the student's authorship, and certainly just because a project is 'aedequate in terms of function' is never a pass! Other aspirant professionals such as engineers, surveyors, interior designers and even unqualified people can and have provided programmes that fulfill the 'function', I suppose, but the architect is expected to provide something significant, which can only be described as signifying the social role of the building, or in ancient terms, its 'decor', or 'decorum'.

Modern architecture which neglects this aspect in favour of reductive answers based on notions of objectivity, are to be condemned. A few modern architects have, however, captured something extra in their productions, and have been rightly recognised. None the less, most architects really don't know what they are doing, except to follow some fashions and hide behing pat formulas that they have picked up before or arfer graduating.

The real measure of the prevalent confusion is to be found in the weakness of criticism today. A breed of architectural journalist has emerged who seem to 'tout' large practices using the proffered press-releases, and they tend to dwell on the alledged 'newness' of such a fresh venture, and fightinh the battles of the Bauhaus all over again! In actual fact, very few people are to be found doing anything new at all, and if so, they are rarely recognised at the time.

Conservation awareness is perfectly fine, but is never a substitute for scholarship and real thinking about architecture. As for teachers of architecture, they are rarely on top of their reading ( architecure is a general discipline, usually ignored in favour of specialisation), and they reflect the faults of their professional brothers, in the main.

James McQuillan, Architect and Historian.
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Postby Brian Quinn » Wed Jul 07, 1999 11:11 pm

james
You've touched on a lot that could fuel a few different debates but sticking to the topic at hand I would say that the tenor of responses in this forum seems to be that our hypothetical student should fail. This would certainly be my gut feeling. The role of architectural education therefore is to provide the student with enough aspirational momentum and the tools to last him/her their professional career. My experience of practice to date is that the industry defaults to the lowest common denominator and for a design concept to be carried through requires superhuman powers of stamina in order to overcome the inertia of mediocrity. That having been said where else would you want to be? My academic experience is that year in year out we have students who couldn't give a dam in the majority, a third-level education system embracing business concepts and a profession expecting archotects who can detail.
Brian Quinn
 

Postby James McQuillan » Thu Jul 08, 1999 2:20 pm

Brian,

Yes, I'd say that our hypothetical student should fail, but remember that there are too many variables to make any kind of judgement at this distance.

Your comments on the nature of education are saddening, as to do well in architecture means that students need high motivation. So I do hope that you are wrong on this! Also it's a tough old world out there, and the ability to detail can be learned, whilst many other things seem to be ignored. Remember that formal education in architecture is very young, and even the modern profession is really an 18th. century creation. No-one can agree even on what the DISCIPLINE of architecture should be today, so there is much revision of accepted attitudes necessary on all sides.

JMcQ.
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