Using Geocaching as a Teaching Tool with Student Architects

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


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.

This paper will describe how geocaching is used as an engaging online teaching tool that enables students to undertake physical site investigation and analysis as part of their study of both actual and metaphorical places in preparation for sustainably assertive design projects.

Since geocaching was introduced into the teaching programme within the Year 1 architecture course, a SoADA Geocaching Document has been produced. With reference to this resource and student experiences, this paper will describe how many students have used geocaching as a means to enhance a concern for places, people and the design of sustainably appropriate architecture.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication2nd Annual AAE Conference 2014
Subtitle of host publicationLiving and Learning
EditorsRosie Parnell, Lakshmi Rajendran, Sara Mahdizadah
Place of PublicationSheffield
PublisherAssociation of Architectural Educators
Number of pages5
ISBN (Print)9780992970529
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2014
Event2nd Annual Conference of the Association of Architectural Educators: Living and Learning - University of Sheffield, Sheffield, United Kingdom
Duration: 3 Sep 20145 Sep 2014
Conference number: 2


Conference2nd Annual Conference of the Association of Architectural Educators
Abbreviated titleAAE 2014
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


Dive into the research topics of 'Using Geocaching as a Teaching Tool with Student Architects'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this