Gao, Yun (2010) Architectural field study in an unfamiliar culture - case study in China trips. In: Being There - Reflections on 20 years of the International course at the Huddersfield Department of Architecture. University of Huddersfield, Huddersfield, UK, pp. 15-24. ISBN 9781682180864

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Architectural field studies in unfamiliar cultures can address issues of globalization in architectural education. The aim of the trip is to provide environments where students consciously design with cultural and environmental sensitivity in a variety of cultural and geographical locations. This requires design skills in an unfamiliar culture and communicative strategies to work with local communities or staff and students in local universities. To work in a different environment is a process of ‘defamiliarization’. As suggested by Bauman, the term ‘defamiliarization’ refers to a process which “takes us away from our comfortable, limited, commonly accepted and often unconsidered opinions about what everybody and everything is like and makes us more sensitive to the way that those opinions are formed and maintained. It alerts us to the ways that things which at first sight appear obvious and ‘natural’ are actually the result of social action, social power or social tradition” (1990:15-6).

This project will discuss four distinct dimensions of cross-culture study. First, lectures, reading lists and choosing of various visiting places to reveal the complexity and richness of a different culture. Second, to organise tasks for students to record their expectations, experience and reflections of their learning processes before, during and after the trip. Third, to provide a professional environment by contacting the local universities so joint design projects can be organised with the local staff and students. Finally, to set up right briefs of the proper projects that suit the local situations. In the learning outcome, students need to demonstrate cross-cultural awareness and communicative competence.

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