How covid-19 is changing the face of architecture schools | New


In less than a quarter, covid-19 has forced architecture schools to abandon face-to-face learning and move towards a world in which online collaboration is the only safe form of group study.

While the end of traditional classes earlier this month was accompanied by a great fanfare over digital alternatives, schools are still at a very early stage in shaping the transition.

Building Design spoke to the leaders of several institutions about the opportunities and challenges ahead and found a consistent commitment to making things work, coupled with genuine concerns for the well-being of students – both in terms of welfare and ensuring that students receive the education they have paid for.

The Association of Architects switched to the online study two weeks ago and is currently in the process of “figuring out” the details related to the assessment of its students, according to principal Eva Franch i Gilabert.

But how and when to conduct project reviews is a small subset of the varied challenges facing the institution and its 800 students and more than 80 countries. Currently, students who are currently abroad are not necessarily invited to return to the UK.

“Over the next few months, different students will find themselves in very difficult circumstances: some may not be able to leave their country of origin; some may be sick; some might not be able to return to the UK for other reasons, ”Franch said.

“We will therefore be launching a series of local virtual forums based in the city and bringing together alumni, students present and others.

“We are going to develop a series of resources for them to enable them to build up a human and intellectual network.

“We have 7,000 alumni around the world, some of whom are architects. Students will still be able to be connected, interact with other people, and share tips and solutions.

“It is imperative at this time that we understand the human dimension of what we are going through. It’s about doing AA in a different way.

Franch said the first of the forums – which will include London, Beijing, Moscow, Istanbul and Seoul – will go live this weekend.

“It’s going to be incredibly difficult for all of us, but it’s also incredibly rewarding to feel that there are a lot of things that need to be done differently.

“We try to train students who create opportunities for themselves. Each class is an opportunity for reinvention.

>> IE School of Architecture explains how they made the jump to the Internet in a matter of days

TO Saint-Martin Center (CSM), Alex Warnock-Smith, program director for space practices, said the college is looking to maximize the use of its existing forums to ensure its students can still participate in the creative communities for which it is known. .

“One of the things we’ve been thinking about is how we can continue to provide cultural and community facilities online,” he said.

The CSM offers masters courses that have historically been online only, but the college is keen not to apply the exact same model to the emergency online versions of its other courses.

But that does mean there’s a lot of inside knowledge about delivering e-learning directed at the online break-through, Warnock-Smith said.

“A lot of students will be in different time zones and one of the challenges will be ensuring that there is regular online education that people can access live – as well as in other forms,” he said. he declared.

Warnock-Smith is convinced that the experience of living the current pandemic will manifest itself in the work of the students – although he believes the first examples will likely be in the graphics and fashion departments, rather than his own, which matters. about 400 students.

TO Sheffield School of ArchitectureDirector of Learning and Teaching Aidan Hoggard said staff are confident students will be able to cover all aspects of their courses remotely, provided they have a computer and a wifi connection.

The school, which has around 600 architecture students from undergraduate to doctorate, continues its tutorial during the Easter break to ensure that students maintain their pace of study during an extremely entertaining time.

“We have an important role to play in keeping our students busy and supported,” says Hoggard.

“We use Google products – Hangouts and Google Jamboard: it’s like a virtual album and it’s really great.”

“In the tutorials, both student and tutor can draw ideas from this Jamboard.”

Hoggard said as a recent emergency measure, each staff member purchased an iPad and pencil.

“We think we can do it all from a distance,” he says. “We have done a lot of online teaching over the past few years.

He adds that while students will need to be more creative with the materials they use to make their models when they cannot rely on school facilities, there are other aspects of building their final portfolios, he adds. will remain basically unchanged, with the exception of online exams.

Lorraine Farrelly, responsible for architecture at the University of Reading and president of Schosa, officials of the Schools of Architecture Network, said students who now had no alternative but to work remotely faced a number of challenges.

Prof. Lorraine Farrelly

“We’re trying to get access to software for our students, because a lot of it was on campus,” she notes.

“Not all of our students have access to broadband or specialized computers, which we know is a challenge.

Such problems are not limited to students, but are also a problem for some architects who find themselves in a situation where working from home has suddenly become the norm – and often in the student environment of a shared apartment.

Some commentators also note that architecture students attempting to study online from their home country may face additional constraints of online restrictions as well as wifi and software issues.

The well-being of students is the main concern of architecture schools, and international students – whether in the UK or in their home country – have more problems on their plate.

One commentator observed that some students at their school were quarantined for 14 days upon returning to their home countries, during which time they were unable to attend school.

Reading’s Farrelly says other concerns for architecture students include year-over-year internships – and the need for Part III students to have the experience to qualify.

Warnock-Smith of Central Saint Martins acknowledges the concerns. He said the college had sought to revamp the internships that were to take place in the next term.

>> Read also: UCL cancels face-to-face teaching after a case of coronavirus

Peter Rees, the former Director of Planning for the City of London, is now Professor of Places and Town Planning at the Bartlett Planning school. He sees the switch to online study as a simple stopgap measure to prevent students’ university life from being suspended.

Peter Rees IMG_2241

“I cannot claim that teaching the next two terms will be as rewarding an experience as we would like,” he said.

Rees said the disruption to his master’s degree in Urban Design and Planning, in which he teaches the “design and real estate” module, would have been greater had the covid-19 lockdown occurred earlier this year, during the visits to developers and architects, and walking tours were held.

However, he says FaceTime or Skype tutorials are less of a problem for students focused on thesis work.

Along with Franch and Warnock-Smith, he believes the coronavirus crisis will inspire something in students – whatever the circumstances.

“When I was a student at Bartlett, the ‘unexpected’ seemed to be part of the design process,” he said.

“Here is a crisis. How do we respond; how to adapt life? In a way, this is the kind of challenge we face in front of architecture and urban planning students.

Keep up to date with all of Building Design architecture and coronavirus coverage here.

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