Critical sustainability in the design studio: Pedagogic change through student engagement and collaboration

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Preparing the architects of tomorrow for the challenges of rapidly shifting global, regional and local environments must be at the forefront of architectural education. Sustainability is an essential concept that requires critical appraisal to develop innovative and successful means of addressing its issues. This research considers a final year MArch studio at a leading UK institution and asks how a critical appreciation of sustainability may be developed in students about to enter the architectural profession.
The research describes the results of an ethnographic study into the design studio to identify domains for change in collaboration with learners. It goes on to discuss the development of a sustainable design community of practice to developed strategies for enhancing critical sustainability.
Adopting a bottom-up approach the research sought to challenge hierarchical pedagogies and develop strategies that engender deep learning, meaningful behavioural changes and an inquisitive and nuanced approach to sustainability. Approaching architectural education from a learner perspective offered new and valuable insights into the relationship between sustainability and the design studio. Four domains for change were identified; the course structure and content, the specific learning experiences, the ethos and attitudes represented, and the context of the learning.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 10 Oct 2017
EventArchitecture Connects: International peer reviewed conference of the association of architectural educators - Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, UK United Kingdom
Duration: 6 Sept 20179 Sept 2017


ConferenceArchitecture Connects
Country/TerritoryUK United Kingdom
Internet address


  • sustainability
  • critical thinking
  • architecture pedagogy
  • design studio
  • action research


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