Hélène Frichot identifies we are living in exhausted times: ‘exhaustion of environment-worlds, the exhaustion of things, and the exhaustion of thinkables’. These are times when people are hunkering down: working out how to retreat from a world that seems unsafe. Exhaustion demands new approaches for teaching to empower our students to believe that they can act in the world to effect change, or there is a risk that the advances made over the past 30 years will vanish and students will retreat to architecture’s old material (and symbolic) practices and build walls, literally and figuratively, to keep others out. This paper is a reflection on approaches we have trialed at both ends of an architectural education at an Australian university: the first author as the undergraduate pathway coordinator and studio leader in the graduating studio of the masters degree; the second author developing and coordinating the first year undergraduate architecture studio and a masters studio that precedes the graduating studio. As we reflect on what we have done and the way students have responded, we realize that transdisciplinary scholar María Puig de la Bellacasa’s praxis of ‘care’ (via Latour, Haraway and Stengers) is a useful way of theorizing and organizing our efforts. We begin by ‘assembling the neglected’, developing briefs for studios that imagine new futures for ‘othered’ communities. We added tactics for ‘thinking with care’ to cultivate empathy. We also developed techniques for thought to become sensate, embodied, and practiced. Finally, we have considered ‘tactical’ design and representational techniques to better respond to the temporal conditions of our time and place. Some techniques have worked, others have been less successful. But on balance we have found students overcome the inertia and apathy that constant exposure to disaster stories can induce and begin to feel empowered to invent new futures.
Dr Janet McGaw is an Associate Professor in Architectural Design at the Melbourne School of Design, University of Melbourne. She is a graduate of architecture with experience in Melbourne and overseas practices. Her research work, teaching and creative practice investigate ways to make urban space more equitable. She explores the relationship between place, identity and health using methods that are discursive, collaborative and somethimes ephemeral.
Dr. Kelum Palipane is Lecturer in Architectural Design at the Melbourne School of Design, University of Melbourne. She is a graduate of architecture with experience in Melbourne and overseas practices. She obtained her PhD by Creative Works from the University of Melbourne. Her research uses creative ethnographic methods to explore migrant experience and identity, examining how unprogrammed place-making practices can inform design.