Frank Weiner
Frank Weiner

Architectural Education

Frank Weiner

Eleven years ago ERA21 (#01/2006) published a quotation from an essay I wrote entitled Five Critical Horizons for Architectural Educators in an Age of Distraction. The essay proposed the studio model itself was subject to various distractions that would either question the model or cause new models to emerge. I was convinced at that time and even more so today the level of distractions have increased and further lessened the efficacy of the modern or post-modern studio model. Historically the studio model depended on “masters” who somewhat cryptically shared their methods to willing acolytes.

Today each student is equipped with an array of digital tools and has become in effect their own studio thereby de-negating all notions of masters. A condition of digital “mass individuality” is the norm. The idea of handing out the same “design problem” to a number of students searching for the best “solution” presupposed a center that does not hold anymore.

Students are now singular centers amidst many other centers and define a studio unto themselves with links to the rest of the world requiring not a master over many but a tutor to help navigate each individual to meaningful findings. The ideal student teacher ratio is now 1 : 1 – a practical impossibility within architectural education as it is currently set up. This ratio is not simply a numerical statistic but an existential ratio in the sense of the Latin ratio or the reason between a student and teacher.

The distractions I wrote of many years ago have made problematic the thought of any continuation of the old studio models – the monastic condition is simply no longer possible. It is not a question of eliminating the distractions as they are too many and too pervasive but rather to develop a new model that immerses us in face-to-face and screen-to-screen encounters about the nature of architecture and design.

A teacher now teaches many concurrent studios because each student is a studio and may even in remarkable technological ways be a School. If a teacher has twenty students in a studio they have twenty studios (or Schools?).

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