Contradictions in architecture design studios: Reflections on the concepts of design embedded in architectural education

Danilo Gomes, Patricia Tzortzopoulos, Carl Meddings

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


In Architecture Schools, Design Studio modules are conceived as the core learning activity, in which students must generate and develop a design proposal. In this context, there is an implicit notion that lecturers and students share a common idea of what the Design Activity is. However, this may not be true as divergent, and sometimes, contradictory ideas of design seem to coexist within the framework of architectural courses. Moreover, such contradictions can lead to lack of coherence among learning activities modules, limiting modules integration and, consequently, hampering the development of key competences, as collaborative skills, by the students. Thus, this paper aims to discuss how different ideas of design coexist in an Architecture School, and how to resolve such contradictions promoting better integration among distinct modules. The findings are based on a literature review on the topics of Design theory, Architecture Education and Collaborative design, as well as on the researchers’ own experience in teaching. Examples of the adoption of Problem-based learning (PBL) in the Architectural Educational context have been explored to overcome gaps over the idea of design in the curriculum. In conclusion, it is suggested that Architecture Schools need to be able to engage in activities of collective reflection on the operational level. First, existing silos need to be questioned in relation to the overall structure of the course. Such reflection should reveal contradictions in the ideas of design among the modules’ leaders. Consequently, wrong assumptions embedded on the existing structures need to be broken down, and new structures and supportive initiatives should emerge with a sense of collaborative practices focused on the co-construction of knowledge.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 5th International conference on Architecture and Built Environment S.ARCH 2018
Place of PublicationVenice, Italy
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jul 2018
Event5th International Conference on Architecture and Built Environment - Venice, Italy
Duration: 22 May 201824 May 2018
Conference number: 5 (Link to Conference Website )


Conference5th International Conference on Architecture and Built Environment
Abbreviated titleS.ARCH 2018
Internet address


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