Everyone remembers their first year at architecture school, but what makes a memorable year a great one and how can this be perpetuated in a distributed and digitally connected context? Reflecting on over a decade of leadership, this paper introduces and discusses how a progressive design studio framework and a focus on personal trajectories have formed the basis for the pedagogical evolution of year one architecture at Manchester School of Architecture (MSA). Each year, MSA welcomes one of the largest and diverse cohorts of undergraduate architecture students in the UK. Diversity is essential in architectural production, but how can individuality be nurtured alongside the introduction to necessary professional architectural skills in a large student cohort? The year one studio framework intentionally increases project scale and complexity throughout the year. Projects begin by exploring ideas of space through individual interests, experiences, culture and heritage. The nature and topic of personal trajectories has developed over the course of a decade and this year students were asked to identify a product manufactured near their home and to design spaces to make, sell and educate the public about that product. Celebrating diversity is a starting point to facilitate discourse on global and local challenges and international mobility; contextualised this year by significant global disruptions and amplified by the personal experience of physically distribution and smooth digital connectivity. The framework has demonstrated resilience, not only to withstand the disruption of a global pandemic, but to facilitate a re-evaluation of located learning and teaching spaces. The pandemic has provided another opportunity to rethink and develop architectural pedagogy and by evaluating rapidly adopted remote teaching platforms and internationally distributed, digitally connected situations, the paper will review existing and emerging pedagogy at MSA to examine the future possibilities for located and remote design studio.
Emily Crompton had led BA1 at the MSA for the past four years and has taught in both undergraduate and MArch programs for the last ten years, where she teaches within the feminist design atelier PRAXXIS. She has ﬁve years of practical experience at URBED, working as an urban designer and architect. Her primary research interest is in collaborative and participatory design, with a focus on engagement methodologies. Other research projects include archiving engagement methods, age-friendly cities, LGBT+ community space, community asset mapping, and feminist design practice. She is passionate about getting as many people as possible involved in decision-making about the design of spaces, buildings, neighbourhoods, and cities.
Dr. Laura Coucill is a Senior Lecturer in Architecture within the School of Natural and Built Environment (SNBE) at Queen’s University Belfast. Laura has over 15 years of experience in professional practice, teaching and research at several HE organisations. She is RIBA Part II qualified and holds a PhD, a PGCert in Research Methods, a PGCert in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education and is a HEA Fellow. Before joining Queen’s in 2020 to establish an MSc and MLA in Future Urbanism, Laura led BA1 at Manchester School of Architecture between 2014 – 17 and subsequently led Year 1 of the M.Arch programme at MSA as well as establishing the BA and M.Arch atelier, Infrastructure Space. She was closely involved with developing the atelier structure to pilot cross-programme teaching which was subsequently implemented across all ateliers at MSA. Laura’s practice expertise is in large industrial and complex heritage sites. Her research interest is in the spatial manifestation of culture, policy and technology and her work adopts cross-thematic spatial analysis techniques, which combine historical and theoretical methodologies with contemporary data mapping to capture spatial capacity, operation, performance and experience. Findings underpin the re-evaluation of existing urban conditions and propose resilient, future urban forms. This work has involved working closely with architectural practices, technology experts, local authorities, transnational and governmental organisations.