Comprehensive Studio, Architectural Accreditation, Cultural Diversity: Considering Conditions, Respecting Context and Pursuing Competence
Architectural education is an increasingly complex endeavor, with the development of knowledge and building of skills aimed at global and local conditions in a state of constant flux. With architecture holding professional status in many international jurisdictions there is tremendous pressure to ensure that graduates are duly equipped with robust capabilities to solve daunting problems. Added to the mix are escalating challenges such as climate change, eroding resources, heightened urbanization and a call for demonstrable sustainability. Given the professional posturing of architecture as a discipline, many countries have developed, or adopted, accreditation regimes aimed at addressing quality control, standardizing curricular goals, and preparing graduates for practice across borders. The authors of the present paper are experienced educators, researchers and practitioners who have been intensely engaged in course & studio development and deployment internationally. In addition to working on and within the accreditation milieu, both researchers manage and teach Comprehensive Studio – a central curricular aspect of accreditation requirements in many Architecture schools. Their experience spans around the planet, with teaching, scholarship and consulting within diverse and rich cultural settings. The present paper critically considers the pursuit of professional competency given very distinct settings and dramatically different contexts. Included in the explorations are the roles, objectives and character of Comprehensive Studio, selected facets of accreditation systems that assess curricular efficacy, and finally the need to acknowledge + celebrate culture as a foundational influence on architectural education. The authors present a bold conceptual framework that recognizes the vital need to be open-minded, creative and innovative while concurrently demonstrating rigor, demanding distinction and meeting standards.
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