Humanity has never changed as much as it has in the last 20 years, in social interactions, economical systems, our living environment in cities and neighbourhoods or in the on-going globalisation. Today’s reality of new unfolding social and political structures, immigration, gender issues, scientific and technological developments challenge us in profound ways. Corporeal students are encouraged to reflect, discuss and act upon these issues in a respectful and open environment.
For the academic year 2018-2019 we focus on the theme of Home; a sense of belonging. Home as a space of inclusion, not in the physical sense but as a space to be comfortable, not feel worried, to behave freely. Many linguistic expressions relate to the concept of home, our students’ emphases on the follow topics; gender space, home-less, re-appreciating space (in relation to depression), body safeness or feeling save in your own home body, privacy in hospital area, welcoming space, minimal space, cultural space.
Nourish by cultural similarities and the student’s own fascination, we started a search around the theme [HOME]. A search that started with investing in thinking together. Thinking together as an umbrella method that takes you further together, gives you more depth and ultimately sharpens you in your own position as a designer, and in relation to the discipline and society.
Other research methods that were discussed during the different units in relation to thinking and making were: theoretical research, survey research, empirical research, participatory observations and design thinking strategies.
In order to anchor the method of joint thinking in the two units, we started reading books. Specific books that enter into a direct relationship with the subject and the phase of studying within the units. In unit I, the focus was more on broadening (making) research and in unit II on in-depth (making) research.
Students were expected to read part of the book every week and (critically) relate to that text and reflect on it from their own personal experiences. This resulted in wonderful conversations that were rich in anecdotes.
In unit I, the broadening unit, we started with the book Species of Spaces and other Pieces, by George Perec. In his book, he examines the question ‘what is space’? I chose this book in particular because I think that George Perec has a unique view of space and that his observations could inspire the students to look- and think differently about space. But also, to become aware of their own capacity in creative thinking and making. To be released from presuppositions and to continue to cherish one’s own fascination.
Thinking through making
Unit II, the in-depth unit, is much more about precision. Experiencing what it is to be precise, to formulate precisely, to make precisely. In this unit we have read the book The Craftsman by Richard Sennett. This book is mainly about the (undervalued) role and value of the maker. That thinking and making are complementary and that there is a surprising value in making itself.
Both the personal development of the students as a spatial designer and also the relationship with the world were central in units I and II.
Students were encouraged to reflect constantly on their own developments and on that of their fellow students from different treated methods. Equipped with this intrinsic knowledge, they are asked to perform interventions, interceptions and changes. It is a continuous search for the questioning of space, in which all kinds of (making) disciplines are used to find future answers to various (social) topics.
Henri Snel supervisor tutor Unit 1 + 2, master program interior architecture at ArtEZ.