Reply To: New Urbanism.
Pro-active learning. . . is something the planning profession has embraced … but given some luck, may some day trickle down into architectural education. A lot of this pro-active learning can be done on foot too – see Dubin city Council walking tours information on their web site for instance.
But an ideal exercise, which I can highly recommend to explore cities in a thorough organised fashion, is to split it up into areas, and locate all retail areas, the professionals, the entertainment etc, etc. Because generally speaking when you get a large mixed use master plan to do anyhow, you are going to be facing that problem. Not just drawing polylines in AutoCAD and extruding them to do a ‘scanline rendering’ in VIZ. (Insert AutoDesk jiggle)
There is just so much, real world, field-work that architects can do to teach themselves. The recent RIAI publication of housing in Dublin city isn’t a bad one either – because you can find most of those schemes in Dublin, in reality. The Milltown/Dartry Road in Dublin is very interesting I think, since it contains a LUAS intersection and many, many religious type properties becoming high-density residential etc.
Space is a quite fascinating study, but you have to ‘get out there’. It doesn’t come to you inside a studio, holed up in some nice ‘architectural college course’ somewhere. Online places like Archiseek exist, which provide the best point of contact between various people thinking about these matters and comparing observations.