Committee on Architecture for Education


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The Committee on Architecture for Education (CAE) is a large and active group of architects and allied professionals concerned with the quality and design of all types of educational, cultural, and recreational facilities.

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AIA CAE Conference to Highlight Participatory Design

  • 1.  AIA CAE Conference to Highlight Participatory Design

    Posted 03-27-2016 12:24

    During the 2016 AIA CAE Conference in Berlin and in my post-conference blog entries I will be focusing on participatory design methodology and applications in the various projects and lectures. Stay tuned for insights from the conference – both in formal presentations and informal discussions amongst participants.

    A highlight of the conference will be visiting the Erika-Mann Grundschule, a project developed using participatory design practices, in conjunction with Susanne Hofmann’s architecture students at Berlin Technical University’s Institute for Architecture.

    The Erika-Mann Grundschule School  conceived interactively by elementary students, and interior design students (of Baupiloten) under the directions of Professor Susanne Hofmann. As part of the conference, Susanne will also be leading a lecture on participatory design with Rosie Parnell, founder of PLAYCE, an international network for children’s architecture education at the conference. This lecture will cover five case studies of schools designed using a participatory approach.

    I am anxious to tour the school to see it in action and in gaining a better understanding of Baupiloten’s process, including both methodology, team member responsibilities and timeline. Of particular interest is learning how the team develops its building program with its clients and determines which aspects of the program will be best to engage students in developing, strategies for working with students of different age levels and learning how their work with students translates to working collaboratively with the educators and administrators at the school.

    Hearing from administrators, students and educators at the school about how they use the building, and how the features influenced by students impacts the community will be very valuable.

    Gaining and understanding as to the prevalence of participatory practices in school design and any government initiatives which may encourage it, such as the UK’s Building Schools for the Future (BSF) program aimed to do will also be interesting.

    As a result of the conference I hope to draw lessons from the Baupiloten practice, and potential applications for firms in private practice in the United States. Gaining insight via informal interaction with participants at the conference as to how they are utilizing participatory design approaches in the design of school buildings in the United States and their thoughts as to the applicability of further participatory methods will be very interesting, particularly from designers in private practice. There are undoubtedly cultural differences, nuances or even bureaucratic hurdles towards more widespread implementation and acceptance which may or may not be evident in Berlin.

    In the meantime, a few questions for education designers here at home:

    • What ways does your practice seek to engage users (educators and students) in the design process?
    • What are barriers preventing further use of participatory design practices you have experienced and what can be done to remove/lesson these?
    • What fears (real or perceived) you or your clients have about the process?
    • What do you feel the best possible outcomes of such a process could be, and what could be the worst?
    • How would/could be done to reduce potentially negative outcomes?
    Tracie Reed AIA
    Dextrous Creative, LLC
    Portland ME
    Call for Nominations