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THE RADICALLY INCLUSIVE STUDIO an open access conversation on radically inclusive practices in the design studio: Introduction

THE RADICALLY INCLUSIVE STUDIO

an open access conversation on radically inclusive practices in the architectural design studio

theradicallyinclusivestudio.org

Authors

  • Michele Gorman, Assistant Professor, Parsons School of Constructed Environment at The New School, NY, NY and Associate Professor in Pratt Institute’s School of Architecture, Brooklyn, NY, USA
  • Jolanda Morkel, Senior Lecturer, Department of Architectural Technology and Interior Design, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, South Africa
  • Dr. Hermie Elizabeth Delport, Project Leader Architecture and Spatial Design, STADIO, Durbanville, South Africa
  • Dr. Lindy Osborne Burton, Senior Lecturer in Architecture, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia

This work in progress (WIP) discussion positions our vision for a radically inclusive design studio. Our respective experiences in the Global North (USA) and Global South (South Africa and Australia), depicted in Figure 1, brings dramatically different and diverse contexts, not only geographically, but economically, culturally, and socially. Through our shared feminist position, the profession of architecture, and studio-education persuasion, we discovered synergies, straddled continents, and exchanged experiences. We formulated a shared vision for equality, equity, fairness, and relevance, and the wish to create an architectural studio that is radically inclusive, relevant, and responsive.

We welcome input and reflections from researchers, faculty, students, administrators, or anyone else interested in architecture education. Give examples that support, contradict, or expand on the inclusive practices in regards to our six inclusive contexts.

Systemic Inclusive Context

Social Justice Inclusive Context

Support Inclusive Context

Spatial Inclusive Context

Symbolic Inclusive Context

Structural Inclusive Context

This is a co-authored discussion on what a radically inclusive design studio practice looks like. As we look to build on the data from our global allies, incorporating recommendations towards the decolonization of the architectural curriculum through a collective scholarship, we have launched a website where we can continue the conversation. Examples of how these practices have manifested within your own teaching pedagogies and curriculums can be contributed through the Comments / Chat section of the website, where dialogues can take place between the Global South and North. During the past few months, the side Chat on Zoom has been used by those who have felt they could not be heard within the online discussion if dominated by a few. We see the Chat space as a safe space to share your feelings and/ or contributions to the discussion towards a propositional way to move the conversation forward.

We will use the online conversations, and their authors, to facilitate a series of online discussions that bring together a diverse panel of participants from the Global North and South.

Please join us in the discussion: theradicallyinclusivestudio.org

Pivoting suddenly to online learning in March, we extended the Willams et al. (2005) theory of the systemic dimension through opening up external relations to new global alliances to share resources and co-author ideas on inclusion, equity and access within our curriculums. Racial injustices during the 2020 global pandemic, including the murder of George Floyd in the US, has been an external factor that has amplified demands on the architectural curriculum to decolonize. Work towards gender and racial justice in our studios has been ongoing pre-global pandemic but now the online conference, such as well-attended online webinars on how to pivot to online teaching, and open design reviews have brought a generous sharing of DEI, indigenous and local knowledges. The potential to expand the exchange of materials, including culturally diverse philosophies and ingenious viewpoints, will open the conversation beyond the closed boundaries of our home institutions.

We seek to blur boundaries through a continued conversation with our external partners in co-authorship. The Radically Inclusive Studio proposes an open access conversation on radically inclusive practices in the architectural design studio to extend the exchange of ideas and collaborations. We harness the fluidity of ideas and exchanges within an online curriculum and propose an initial list of inclusive practices formed in conversations between the Global North and South within each of our six contexts.

OUR RADICALLY INCLUSIVE PROCESS

We developed a 6S Conceptual Framework of inclusive contexts, informed by inclusive pedagogical approaches (Florian & Spratt 2014; Makoelle & Malindi 2015; Salazar, Norton & Tuitt 2017), but mostly, we were guided by Williams et al’s. (2005) Inclusive Excellence (IE) Framework.

The development of the 6S Framework of inclusive contexts is presented in Table 1.

Using the 6S Framework of inclusive contexts, we reviewed, analyzed, and interpolated twenty-two cultural artifacts (Ellis et al. 2011) through a systematic literature review process (Dewey & Drahota 2016).  These cultural artifacts, which focused almost entirely on the pivot to online learning, were the online webinar discussions which were hosted between the 13th of March and the 24th of June 2020, by the ACSA (Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture—representing the USA) and the AASA (Association of Architecture Schools of Australasia—representing Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea). A similar body in South Africa, the AEFA (Architectural Education Forum Africa—representing South Africa), did not host any online webinar discussions during this time. In lieu of this, we drew on informal conversations, formal writings and online conversations on general higher education, surfacing from South African educators. The webinar data that we analyzed, was delivered by participants (presenters, panel members and chairpersons) who represented multiple institutions globally, and acted from a position of collegiality and sharing. On the whole, they were open to new ideas and genuinely sought to not only share their ideas and experiments, but also to learn from each other, building upon mutual respect. We searched for data that resonated, expanded, contradicted, challenged or reinforced our 6S Framework of inclusive contexts. Under each of the inclusive contexts, we identified the most significant inclusive practices that are integral to a radically inclusive studio.

Next, we drew from our respective experiences and contexts, to discuss and reflect on these identified inclusive practices. We framed this ethnographic exploration as considerations for a radically inclusive studio for diversity, equity and inclusion. As participants in our regular online conversations about the webinar data, we extended the approach of the webinar participants, by creating a safe space where we were able to freely express our opinions, and take a stance (or not) about contentious and sensitive issues which often surfaced. Creating an environment which supported the expression of new ideas, was essential to establishing trust and expressing our personal value systems. While we did not always reach consensus, mutual respect was always acknowledged, and of paramount importance during our collaborations. As feminists, however, our positions and provocations almost always aligned, and helped to consolidate and extend our perspectives about what constitutes a radically inclusive studio. Finally, we used a diagramming methodology, to visualize, explore, and test our proposition.

About the authors:

Assistant Professor Michele Gorman

The New School

Pratt Institute School of Architecture

Jolanda De Villiers Morkel

Senior Lecturer

Cape Peninsula University of Technology

Dr. Hermie Elizabeth Delport

Project Leader: Architecture and Spatial Design

STADIO

Dr. Lindy Osborne Burton

Senior Lecturer

Queensland University of Technology

Michele Gorman

School of Constructed Environments | Parsons School of Design at The New School | New York, NY

Pratt Institute | UG Architecture | Brooklyn, NY

Based in Brooklyn, New York, I work at the intersection of architecture, social and ecological activism and emerging digital technologies between two ranked US design programs: Pratt Institute (Brooklyn, NY) and Parsons School of Design | The New School (NY, NY). Since the global pandemic and our pivot online, I have showcased new immersive platforms vis a vis pedagogy and remote learning, challenging the in-person architecture review. In addition, including global voices in these online discussions and spaces, cutting across cultural and geographic divides, has created new knowledge and shared resources with newfound academic feminist colleagues in South Africa and Australia, and beyond. Discussing our own inclusive design philosophies and pedagogies has created new forms of collectivity and knowledge production that challenge the previous structures of normative design studio culture and rituals. I ask how moving online opened up new potentials to discuss, co-author and share that allow us to give a global rethink on our community, culture, and the forms and boundaries of our academic institutions. How can we make the design studio truly radical to respond to changes taking place in our global community in real-time? As ALL design studios must be radical, what does radical mean in each of our respective institutes and how are we testing within our own teaching pedagogies? 

Hermie Delport

STADIO University, South Africa

I have an intense love for architecture and architectural education. How it is possible to improve what we do, not because what we do is bad, just because there is always room to learn, to adapt to the circumstances, to bring out the best in the students and educators. I have the privilege of working on new architectural qualifications for a new school of architecture and would like to make sure that what informs the development is relevant, inclusive and exciting. I have dappled in various forms of the studio, running a design-build studio as part of my research. I cannot separate the tactile form the studio and find ways that people are addressing the hands-on aspect now during COVID really inspiring. 

Jolanda De Villiers Morkel

Cape Peninsula University of Technology, South Africa

Studying and graduating in Apartheid South Africa, with Nelson Mandela’s release from prison in 1990 midway through my architecture studies, change became the only constant. As one of a few females in a male-dominated class, I felt special rather than out of place, always encouraged by my feminist father. My first year practicing Architecture was in a new Democratic South Africa. Less than a decade later, what was meant to be a brief interruption of my professional career, became another big shift… to full-time academia. After twenty years in higher education, I find myself daily inspired by new challenges. I’m grateful for brave students and supportive colleagues and collaborators who, through the years, have helped me question, push boundaries, and (dare I say) break rules! Twenty-six years into Democracy, the changes are more rapid than ever, the challenges more severe. My research and teaching focus on studio pedagogy, vocational, work-integrated and lifelong learning, design thinking, and learning design, specifically as mediated through disruptive digital technologies to open up traditional learning pathways for non-traditional students to succeed in an ever-changing world. 

Lindy Burton

Queensland University of Technology, Australia

It’s impossible to be raised and educated in South Africa, and not be impacted by architectural responses to racial segregation from the past. Spaces and places are a constant reminder of how people were once racially classified. I have built a new identity as an Australian architect and academic, but my African foundations will always underpin my sensitivities to indigenous perspectives, and my approach to design and teaching.

My research interests centre on transformational architectural education, the design of innovative learning environments, and diversity, inclusion and equity in architecture. I am appointed as a board member of the BOAQ, and I provide leadership in AACA Accreditation and SAGE Athena SWAN committees. I am a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and my teaching excellence has been recognized nationally.

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