A revolution in architecture

A revolution is underway in the teaching of architecture and design, according to organisers of a major design education conference at UNSW.

ConnectED inside

A revolution is underway in the teaching of architecture and design, according to organisers of a major design education conference at UNSW from Monday to Thursday 9-12 July.

The ConnectEd conference, to be held at UNSW from 9 - 12 July, will bring together international and Australian delegates to discuss the future of design education and the growing trend for collaboration across disciplinary boundaries. The conference is a collaboration between UNSW's Faculties of Engineering, Built Environment (FBE) and the College of Fine Arts.

According to conference chair and FBE Associate Dean (Education), Professor Bob Zehner, the conference comes at a time of great change within the design and architecture disciplines. Architecture in particular is undergoing a revolution, with Australian universities at the forefront.

"A revolution is not an overstatement. All architecture programs in Australia are moving toward a 'three plus two' structure where students do a three-year Bachelor degree followed by a two-year Masters degree with the Masters being the professional degree," Professor Zehner said.

"That's a major change. It's one of those watershed opportunities for really rethinking architectural education and where we are going," Professor Zehner said.

"The change is linked to the precedent of the Bologna agreement - an agreement across the EU for European universities to set up the three plus two system.

"It's a recognition that architects would like to be seen to have an accreditation that is mobile, that is in line with what's going on in Europe so that the educational packages that people have will allow students, and staff as well, to more easily move from one program to another," Professor Zehner says.

Conference delegates will hear from two expert panels; the first will speak to the 'three plus two' changes; and the second on resource priorities within universities and whether teaching has taken second place to research.

Professor Zehner says the panels, comprising pro-vice chancellors and architecture school heads, promise to be controversial.

"I think there are a number of issues to do with resource allocation and priorities in universities where the learning and teaching end of things tend not to get as much attention as it might otherwise... and these people will all speak very much in favour of the teaching area of the university as being a crucial lynchpin of what goes on."