Orr, Kevin and Gao, Yun (2015) The enduring influence of the studio: how architects and architectural organizations in England are learning. In: European Conference on Educational Research (ECER), 7 to 11 September 2015, Budapest, Hungary.

commercial organizations in which architects work and, crucially, in which they learn. The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) received its Royal Charter in 1834 and the profession has traditionally maintained a high status alongside law and medicine, at least partly because the profession still controls the education and training of new architects. Architecture is one of few professions in England that is controlled by statute; only those who have successfully completed a RIBA-approved course and finally registered with the Architects Registration Board may call themselves an architect. This course takes around eight years, normally five of which are in university and three of which are on placements in architectural offices. Architects in England work in a very wide range of different types of organizations, from sole-trader firms to international companies with hundreds of employees. These organizations are the site of architects’ learning and development, but by properly placing them within their political and economic context the development of the organizations themselves is evident. The organizations have had to learn. This has led to discussion about how the profession might change to meet some of the demands to which these organizations have already had to adapt, including cross-professional collaboration and a more global market for services (RIBA 2012). How this development of organizations affects or relates to the professional training for architects in England is the focus for this paper, which addresses the following research question:

What is the relationship between the professional education of architects and the learning organizations in which they work in England?

As celebrated by Donald Schön (1983), architectural education and training throughout Europe and America has been based around supported practice within the open-plan design-studio. While in university, students’ work is often assessed through the “crit” or the “jury” involving tutors and qualified architects observing the work and collectively reaching judgements within the studio space. Bergström (2014: 18) argues that the “studio is not just a dominant feature of the curriculum, but often provides the epistemological foundation for architecture as an academic discipline.” The design-studio is also the dominant structure and space for architectural firms in England and so the physical space of the studio within university architecture departments and architecture firms share as “a primary goal the achievement of unity among otherwise independent practitioners” (Cuff 1991: 154). This apparent unity of purpose may appear to address what Roth (2010, 41) has described as an ‘abyss’ between what is taught in educational institutions and what is required in workplaces more generally. This study has, however, found a more nuanced relationship between professional formation and the profession because of the occasionally contradictory demands of architecture as a profession and architectural organizations, especially at a time of economic constraints following the economic crisis.

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