Studio South: co-creating architecture education through residencies in Calabria [Conference paper]

Denicke-Polcher, Sandra and Adamo, Rita (2023) Studio South: co-creating architecture education through residencies in Calabria [Conference paper]. In: Association of Architectural Educators Conference 2023 - Productive-Disruptive, 12-15 July 2023, Welsh School of Architecture, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK. (Submitted)

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Abstract / Description

The paper discusses a programme for studying architecture through student residencies in a small village in Calabria, Italy. Called Studio South, the programme runs as part of the research initiative Crossing Cultures at London Metropolitan University. It addresses social and political concerns caused by migration and the depopulation of marginal areas in Europe.

Facilitated through the local NPO Le Seppie, London-based students have engaged with the village and its inhabitants since 2016 through a “fluid” timetable which produces small-scale constructions, art-led community activities and large-scale regeneration strategies beyond the boundaries of the academic calendar. In an area with high immigration, this engagement has grown a community of practice (CoP) which embraces students, locals, refugees and other newcomers. Different student cohorts from London have applied peer-learning, team-work, experimentation and agency alongside Le Seppie’s onsite engagement. Both can now see how they have influenced change over time through an intercultural dialogue which has started to reactivate the area.

In 2020, ten students moved to the village during the Covid lockdown and self-initiated the first residency supported by Le Seppie, which amplified the previous engagement. In 2022, this has developed into funded residencies, offering a small group of students to develop their design projects for the village, while embedded in the local community and connected with their course online.

The paper evaluates how the residency model disrupts the formal pedagogy and studio culture associated with academic engagement and its relationship to research and practice. It will be outlined how the residencies have blurred several institutional boundaries and enabled students to occupy the gaps between architectural education, research and practice.

Firstly, the students, as research partners, have driven a thematically organized investigation through their design projects which address the research questions framed by their design brief. At the same time, they have themselves become subjects in an action-research in which their activities and responses have created the data for pedagogical and cross-cultural findings.

Secondly, the paper identifies new hybrid roles and collaborative relationships that bridge academic and lived worlds and presents how this immersive pedagogy blurs the boundaries between learning and living. For example, the locals have started to perceive the students as part of the NPO, while the students’ individual goals and Le Seppie’s concerns have merged into a common ambition.

Thirdly, our evaluation framework itself blurs the boundaries between research and subject matter. Based on reports, focus groups and interviews, data has been gathered through a graduate research partner who was a student in the 2020 residency and is now a member of the NPO. Analysing the viewpoints of the different collaborators - students, the NPO and local community members – the
paper concludes with a recommendation for future student residencies as an innovative pedagogical and practice model. It proposes to apply learning through immersive practices on world issues, to benefit society as well as facilitate students' transition into the workplace and entrepreneurship.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Studio South, architecture residencies, engaged pedagogy, immersive practice, reactivating marginal areas
Subjects: 700 The arts; fine & decorative arts > 720 Architecture
Department: The School of Art, Architecture and Design
Depositing User: Sandra Denicke
Date Deposited: 01 Jun 2023 08:36
Last Modified: 13 Jun 2023 08:24


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