Griffin, Alexander (2014) Using geocaching as a teaching tool with student architects. Charrette, 1 (2). pp. 51-56. ISSN 2054-6718

Geocaching is a global positioning system (GPS) based treasure hunt game that is played throughout the world. Participants find hidden containers, called geocaches, using GPS coordinates and then share their experiences online.

The inherent manipulability of the game enables those who choose to plant geocaches to introduce site-specific information, which can lead to a multitude of participant experiences, making the game a flexible and informative learning exercise.

At the University of Huddersfield School of Art, Design and Architecture (SoADA), geocaching has been used for many years as a teaching tool allowing students to investigate a variety of places at a tangible level and analyse a site’s complexities in preparation for contextually responsive design projects. An important part of a student’s measurable outcome and reflection process in response to the geocaching exercise is the production of a Site Investigation Report. This resource captures a student’s experiential and emotional responses towards a place and forms an important briefing document for a conjoining subsequent contextual design project.

An important pursuit that geocaching fosters is a site-specific design response with a sustainable emphasis. When the notion of sustainable architecture is stripped of all the measuring processes, (which in many cases have diluted the important concern for the well-being of our world and the people who live on it into a collection of detracting and often irrelevant details for the purposes of ‘easy measurement’), we find that what remains are beauty and appropriateness. Sustainable architecture is at its core, architecture that people want to sustain. The primary purpose for utilising geocaching as a teaching tool at SoADA is to further assist students to gain a deep understanding of context so as to produce site-specific sustainable design projects that people would want to keep.

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