In today’s time where the whole world seems to be connected – due to the global pandemic and available digital technology, education and its pedagogy appear to be more homogenous. This is giving emergence to a value for contextual knowledge and feeling of being rooted. Culture, heritage and the social structure allows us to be rooted in a place or community. A new wave of academic pedagogy of exploratory, collaborative model of combining design education with regional knowledge is rising to adapt to change. This paper discusses one such hybrid educational model. This model combines online and physical design studio mode and amalgamates the informal (traditional craft practices) and formal education (design and architecture) through various academic formats across two countries – India and Norway. The pedagogy delves into a systematic exploration of the fusion of diverse models like interactive learning, digital communication, hands-on practice, field exposure and knowledge exchange workshop bringing the students from India and Europe together on a four-year-long academic journey. This is part of a collaborative research project – Threads of Innovation – between CEPT and NTNU supported for four years by DIKU. The pedagogical endeavour is situated in a wide-ranging fabric of international cooperation, the richness of craft traditions, contextual and cultural narratives, an amalgamation of allied disciplines, – all provides ample ground for a number of new educational strategies to emerge from. With an aim to strengthen the quality of architecture and design education at both ends, in India and in Norway, and beyond, this paper presents and reviews many of the strategies, tenets and actions explored by the authors in their educational and research pursuits. The paper will showcase the emerging academic pedagogy toolkit with examples and case studies as a result of this collaborative project.
Jay Thakkar is an Associate Professor, Head of Exhibitions and Co-founder of Design Innovation and Craft Resource Centre (DICRC) at CEPT University, India. He has worked on various design, craft and research projects in India, Europe and Australia. Notable publications co-authored by him are Sahaj: Vernacular Furniture of Gujarat (2018, co-authored with Mitraja Bais, Samrudha Dixit and Ben Cartwright), “Prathaa: Kath-Khuni Architecture of Himachal Pradesh” (2013, co-authored with Bharat Dave & Mansi Shah), “Matra: Ways of Measuring Vernacular Built Forms of Himachal Pradesh” (2008, co-authored with Skye Morrison) and has authored “Naqsh: The Art of Wood Carving of Traditional Houses of Gujarat – Focus on Ornamentation” (2004). He is a recipient of the Charles Wallace India Trust and Simon Digby Charitable Trust research fellowship. After earning his Masters in Visual Communication from UK and Bachelors in Interior Design from India, he received gold medals from the CEPT University and GICEA for his research work. He has organized and conducted many craft workshops and has curated multiple national and international exhibitions. He is a principal investigator for many international projects like Vernacular Furniture of India, supported by SADACC trust, UK and Threads of Innovation – a collaborative project between NTNU, Norway and CEPT, India.
Aleksandra Raonic is an Associate Professor at the Department of Architecture and Technology IAT, Faculty of Architecture and Design AD, NTNU- Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway. She has been designing curriculum and teaching architecture across the PG and UG levels in Europe and in China continuously since 2005. Before NTNU, she was Associate Professor in Architecture and Year 3 leader at Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, XJTLU in Suzhou, China and held an honorary position at the Liverpool University, UK. Her research centres on creating links between teaching, research and design practice, with a clear focus on setting up education platforms from which to launch research. In parallel to teaching, Aleksandra has been leading a research-oriented award-winning architectural design practice RAUM [ www.raum.co.rs ], with projects published and exhibited nationally and internationally, presented at La Biennale di Venezia several times (in 2006, 2012 and 2014). Her design practice has so far been recognised with over 25 awards for realized work of architecture and as competition entries. As an academic, she is a recipient of 20 awards for education in Europe and in Asia. Aleksandra is also a principal
investigator for an international project – Threads of Innovation – a collaborative project between NTNU, Norway and CEPT, India.