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Deborah Whelan – Lincoln School of Architecture and the Built Environment – Deputy Head of School Staff Profile

Introduction

The Bachelor of Architecture second year module, Design and Society is a rich and compelling series of uncomfortable truths and social complexities. The module requires multiple submissions with components including group work – a skill required by the validating bodies given that architecture is a team profession.

In the past, group projects would have typically followed a task centred on producing a poster, or some other tangible deliverable which is then presented highlighting the different contributions the team members made.

The move to the digital realm allowed for expanding these physical paradigms. In addition the recent unseating of the statue of Edward Colston in Bristol, in particular, as well as the sentiments submitted by organisations such as Black Lives Matter, the Design and Society subject offering of ‘Monuments’ this year was engaging, uncomfortable and at times, thrilling.

The aim of the project was to encourage students to ‘look round corners’, to understand the multiplicities of argument, the different viewpoints which can be held which may be informed by deeply seated political, traditional or cultural beliefs, and to be able to understand and appreciate that with uncomfortable truths, there are many angles which must be considered in evaluating monumental contributions to the built environment.

Implementation

Students were required to form pairs (or groups of three in extreme cases) and debate their position on monuments in a post-colonial, post-truth society. To do this, they had to articulate a broad understanding of the context, such as memory, and use this in order to argue their way through the debate for / against or rapporteur. Students in today’s undergraduate cohort are often uncritical and the debate compelled them to think without themselves and to ‘look round corners’. This debate was presented through a teams meeting and utilised sharing and presentation skills.

Outcomes and benefits

The outcome was a series of good projects, digitally presented (some, sadly without cameras on) which presented student interaction in a less forced way, with spontaneity and spirit which could interrogate their position and unseat their preconceived notions of the monumental built environment. The recorded versions allow students to review their own work, as well as build an evidential repository for the School. In addition it is a valuable resource for External Examiners in being able to access work ‘as it is done’ rather than miss out on the richness of the student project.

Resources

Microsoft Teams: For support on using Teams for teaching and learning please see this page: Resources Hub: Microsoft Teams – Digital Education Support (lincoln.ac.uk)