A new school of architecture
What would a new architecture school designed for these new types of practice look like? For this short article, let’s just speculate about an alternative way of getting the postgraduate part of your professional architectural education (for the main reason that undergraduates are comparatively better suited to a structured university environment than postgrads, who would respond most to a looser and more challenging educational scenario).
Pedagogically, a guiding principle would be that the latter part of your architectural education should be a type of supported ‘proto-practice’, and that the educational structures should reflect these new ways of working. This would imply reinventing the school not as an established hierarchy, but as an orchestrated network, one that not only includes tutors, but also a range of expert consultants, different disciplines and other institutions. The school could embed itself within a community, one where there is opportunity for architects, and all the project work should be set locally and engage with real issues. There should be a mixture of group working and individual enquiry, and students should be taught by the sort of practices they might want to become in 10-15 years’ time. The avant-garde approach has become so institutionalised in many schools that it would be an irony to use such counter-institutional spirit to refocus the profession on what such schools would probably see as a reactionary emphasis on practice. But any type of proto-practice shouldn’t merely be just like being in practice; it should offer the opportunity to experiment, to push and test ideas away from commercial pressures, to think how architecture might better operate as a spatial and urban problem solver. And this in turn could be of benefit to practices themselves: the ones involved in the teaching, and beyond into the profession.