Gao, Yun (2013) Designing within a Different Culture – The case for incorporating overseas design projects and field studies in the curriculum of a school of architecture. In: Inaugural Association of Architectural Educators: Architecture, Design and the Built Environment, 4th - 5th April 2013, Nottingham Trent University.

Skills and knowledge required for designing within different cultures should play an important part of the architecture curriculum, due to the increasing number of architectural offices engaging in overseas projects and more and more international students studying in the UK. In order to investigate how architectural students perceive and value their learning experience in an unfamiliar context, this project was designed to explore field studies at Southwest China by a group of architectural students from a university at the north of England. It also exams their design decisions made for the project set in the region visited. The field study and design project provide students with the opportunities to exercise the particular way of thinking that they formed in the university studio-based education. Students from various background may use and integrate their skills and knowledge differently when confronted with an unfamiliar culture.
The study takes the forms of an inquiry that use in-depth unstructured interviews of 3rd year Bachelor Architectural students. It explores the experience of the students who not only work as navigators interpreting the unfamiliar or new situations, but also construct new understandings in unfolding situations which may engender ways of thinking that inform and reflect on action. The study argues that students’ experience of learning and developing is not unified. There is the need for an inclusive culture in architectural education that can take into account of the personal, disciplinary and community values in order to facilitate the adjustments required to make the curriculum more relevant and engaging in a global context.

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