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Associate Professor Gro Rødne
“Making is thinking”
addresses a much-needed re-examination and redescription of how to understand and develop skills
connecting the
body and mind
Work Package 1 has emerged as the result of an intentional priority area on full-scale building over the past 12 years. The
target is students’ work, both in first-year undergraduate courses and in master’s courses. The assignments used as objec-
tives span from full-scale building to other
experiences in the overlap between artistic and architectural methods.
as a source of new knowledge is the common denominator, such that in fact
Hands-on head start:
Acknowledging that architecture belongs to the
“Making disciplines”
and the connection between
body andmind, we emphasize the importance of giving students an embodied experience by working in full scale from the very
beginning of their studies. The very first project that our students are assigned is to complete a small-scale scenario of an entire
design process, from idea to construction. It is important to point out that the full-scale building is a didactic tool in itself and not
merely a representation of what the students learn from the scale models. The assignment is not unlike planning a building in
an overall city plan. The students must consider, for example, patterns of movement, entrances, and places to sit. They must
deal with both the big landscape and the smaller spaces within it.
On site:
The students’ work on site involves testing and experiencing scale, feeling how forces work within the construction,
seeing how the light travels, feeling the wind, and experiencing how the sound of the surroundingsmight affect the atmosphere
they are about to create. Students must
in groups and observe how ultimately the
public use
the created spaces.
We believe this approach provides
deep learning
experiences that will last. Contemporary design studios cannot mimic the
embodied experiences
acquired through the
hands-on situation of making
In international didactics there is increasing recognition of the body and mind connection. For example, Joseph Deane writes:
The Cartesian split of mind and matter has hampered our thinking about architecture for too long, but that could all be
about to change. For centuries we have been held back by an outdated scientific paradigm that places themind above and
beyond both the body and the material world. Not only is this view ingrained in our architectural practice and theory, it also
defines the very culture in which we live. However, recent scientific research has started to re-center our environment, our
architecture and the inanimate objects around us as formative elements of our cognition.
Today’s rules, regulations, and software are constantly changing, but certain factors do not change rapidly. Howwe experience
space and how we learn is related to our beings as “biological and cultural creatures . . . whose senses and neural systems
have developed over millions of years.”
It is not obvious that the complex profession of architecture needs a curriculumwith a
strong focus only on professional training at the expense of tools that provide an experience of scale, place, and craft. By work-
ing with both with their mind and body, students will gain knowledge that not only relates to professional and academic skills,
but also remains as
tacit knowledge
(Polyani 1966).
WP 1 seeks to investigate the transformative aspects the students experience through direct learning by making. We will also
examine whether and in what way this approach to learning changes how students understand and practice architecture. WP
1 will work closely with WP 5 “Threshold Concepts.” The presumed insight will be used in the redesign and development of
the curriculum.
1. Richard Sennett. “The Craftsman” Acknowledgments. 2008
2. Deane, Joseph, “The great divide”. The Architectural review. 31.1.2013
3. Juhani Pallasmaa The symposium, Minding Design: Neuroscience, Design Education, and the Imagination. 2012