The Incorporation of Rationalism in Studio and in Architectural Practice

The increasing frustrations and dissatisfaction in the design failures when it comes to the architectural design studios is one of the primary concerns of academicians and researchers around the globe. In the era where the global world is increasingly becoming complicated, the architectural field experiences the challenges of globalization, climate change, and social transformation on a scale that can be classified as unprecedented. In other words, throughout the century, the design studio has not undergone essential changes. In simple terms, based on the analysis of the scholars such as Bashier (2014), the changes that have been done in the education of architecture, are not in line with the fast-changing modern world when looked at from the context of architectural practice.

Identification of the Problem

The design studio environment has remained the same in the past few years. Architecture students have also noted that the ongoing changes in the education of architecture are not in line with the fact changing modern era, especially when it comes to the context of architectural practice (Bashier, 2014). According to Bashier (2014), the report postulated by the Studio Culture Task Force of the American Institute of Architecture Students implied that Studio culture focused entirely on the appearance of the project rather than the actual design process. Additionally, in recent years, the same issue has been the topic of discussion in most countries including Khartoum.

The limitations associated with the implicit design methodology has made many students lose motivation as far as the design process is concerned, and most of them are now turning to form making while depending highly on artistic and intuition skills. As such, a number of negative trends have been witnessed including the adopting architecture-as-art-approach, the dependence of artistic and intuition skills, focus on form making, lack of concentration on the rational problem solving, disregard for the design process, concentration on self-satisfaction and social consideration when it comes to the designing process (Bashier, 2014). In this case, these aspects are hindering the restoration of the rational fundamentals of design in the studio. However, it is also important to acknowledge the fact that the current change towards rationalism in the education system of the architectural design process is inevitable.

The current study proposes that the best chance of changing the design education system is by returning to the rationalism in the studio. Since the beginning of the 1960s, most scholars have acknowledged the significance of balancing creativity and rationality in the architectural world; they are mutually interdependent when it comes to the designing process (Bashier, 2014). It is from this perspective that the research objective and the research question will be created. The research question will revolve around asking how the architectural world can be able to fill the gap between the creative and rational design activities, especially where design process is involved.

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Definition of the Problem

The concentration of a form making as the primary objective of the architectural design has made many students to ignore the importance of the design process and depend heavily on artistic and intuition skills (Tzonis, 2014). Apparently, this methodology is not useful in the modern era because of technological advancement which has made the architectural design knowledge to advance beyond the artistic and intuition base (Torres, Serra, Llopis, García, & Cabodevilla, 2015). In essence, because of technological advancement in the 20th century, the ancient pre-industrial artistic and intuitive model is not valid and compatible with the design problems experienced in the modern era (Bashier, 2014). In the year 1960s, the architectural design movement established a niche that required the design process to revolve around the scientific method (Bashier, 2014). In simple terms, the reasoning behind this issue is the fact that there was an assumption that the industrial design and the modern architectural demands became a complex for ancient traditional methods of designing.

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According to Cesal (2010), studio culture pedagogy was discovered in both the 18th and the 19th centuries and the rationalism of French in the process focused on the application of intuition and analysis of precedent in arriving at a given consensus in a particular design. Additionally, the design learning approach that focused on rationalism and was discovered from the Ecole des Beaux-Arts was transformed into Western Schools that offered architecture and ended up being absorbed to the rest of the world (Bashier, 2014). The rise of the balance between creativity and rationality as the primary concept in the architectural design process characterizes the education design process as an important step of the rationalism of ordering paradigm. For instance, according to Salama (2016), the primary objective of educating an architect is to create analytical, spiritual, imaginative and practical skills important for the students to establish and measure the needs of human beings and aspirations and in the process meet or express them in form and space.

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The lack of balance between creativity and rationality in the contemporary architectural design in the modern world in practice and the studio has resulted in considerable criticism from the public (Tzonis, 2014). In other words, the members of the public are of the opinion that practicing architects have gone away from the goals and the needs of the society, the users, and the architects concentrate highly on satisfying themselves especially the need for personal expression (Bashier, 2014). Some critics have come out in defense of the process by arguing that students show no interest in the process of designing and most of them tend to concentrate on form making. For this reason, efforts to teach students the methods of designing and to ensure that the balance between rationality and creativity is restored in the design process have ended up in failure. The reason is believed to be related to the challenges associated with conventional design methods’ implicit nature (Cesal, 2010). As such, these problems are prevalent in most schools of architecture and include lack of properly defined methodology of design coupled with the miscomprehended role of the systematic approach to design when it comes to the architecture studio (Bashier, 2014). Signs of revolution are emerging gradually as shown by the international call for change in the environment of the studio. In other words, this global change can be taken to indicate a general agreement on the demand for reconfiguration of the education revolving around architectural design toward a policy that is engaging and considers the social responsibility linked with the architects.

How to Address the Challenge of Architectural Design Process in Studio and In-Practice

The modern era design theorists have discovered the need to ensure that there is a balance between rationality and creativity in the design process. In this case, with innovation requiring that architecture needs to develop both rationality and creativity, it is important to consider these two issues as mutually interdependent (Cesal, 2010). The overall architectural design entails organizing space to accommodate activities and studying the demands and the needs of human beings. As a result, viewing the process of designing as an aspect that is highly motivated by the positive theoretical framework is something that in justifiable in architecture (Bashier, 2014). Nevertheless, there are also some architectural designs that focus on appearance which makes some aspects of rationality and functions to be abandoned. Therefore, it is important for schools to incorporate the integrated design processes in their learning and teaching mechanisms.

As much as the integrated design paradigm concentrates highly on the rationalist method, it is important to note that its model does not exclude creativity from the overall design process (Cesal, 2010). The employment of creativity in this method is somehow different and unique from the pure art creativity that is witnessed in the intuitive approach. In other words, teachers should be able to teach and incorporate creativity within the rationalist method that is full of a rational knowledge base as opposed to the subjective-non-rule-based preposition (Bashier, 2014). Apparently, it is critical to posit that it is only through the integration of creative methods and analytical techniques that a successful and efficient design process in architecture can be realized. In this case, there is a need to blend the already existing theories of reflection-in-action theory with rational problem-solving theory (Stals, Elsen, Jancart, & Delvaux, 2015). The activities and issues arising from the two approaches need to be united into one when it comes to teaching and learning about architectural design.

As such, when it comes to teaching of the architectural design process, it is crucial for researchers and academicians to acknowledge that it is a combination of two phases that play an instrumental role in the overall design process hierarchy (Cesal, 2010). Apparently, the first phase that the instructors need to take into consideration relies heavily on the systematic techniques and the process will help to offer rational knowledge. The second phase will also depend on the rational knowledge that will be produced in the systematic phase and the process will employ skill-based creative practice (Bashier, 2014). The first phase which is the systemic technique will involve the employment of positive theory, research and produces, fundamental principles such as design theoretical frameworks. The creative element of this phase will also concentrate on comprehending the rational knowledge that will be developed in the systemic phase and will be made up of primary design strategy and principles which will be applied to the design problem.

Conclusion

The design thinking process is an essential issue in architecture education. In this case, no disagreement tends to exist among academicians, educators, and studio instructors as far as the significance of this issue is concerned on improving the teaching and learning practices in the studio. However, to most individuals, the main challenge stems from establishing the concepts and the issues that constitute a design.

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