Failure is Not Failure – ARCH 5321
Abstract / Video
Most often design students in studio-based courses or otherwise wind up intensely focusing on their GPA and streamlining their efforts toward a maximum score within a course. This student impression is often corroborated by the common grading practices found throughout architectural education – where a “final project” amounts to 70% of a final grade. This grading scheme deters from process-based learning and inhibits students from taking further risks associated with ambitious design schemes. Often students avoid taking strong critical positions, reduce the number changes in their project, and ultimately wind up with a well resolved, low impact proposal. This teaching approach uses a full-scale design and build project performed in groups and makes use of advanced computational tools for architecture. An important aspect of this course is finding the correct level of student challenge for each project. Since every project is an original design investigation – it needs to be calibrated in a variety of directions to adequately mature through iteration. One effective barometer for this has been through structural failure. By critically examining design prototypes for physical weaknesses, students are immediately able to engage in a conversation pertaining to a relationship between design intent and possibilities for structural strength. This is a common and pragmatic conversation found throughout professional practice and Structural Engineers are invited throughout the term to offer their valuable advice. Although the course is not introduced as a structural study – it has become valuable to the student learning experience in understanding the consequences of design decisions.