A one-day symposium on architectural education was held by the School of Architecture and Planning at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, on 24 January 2014 (link to programme and abstracts). It was prompted by the fact that many academics at all South African architectural learning sites (ALS) are currently engaged in educational research. Since 1994 there have been great shifts in social, cultural, economic and educational paradigms in South Africa that have forced architectural educators to rethink and reinvent content and approaches, while the realignment of the architectural professional qualification as a post-graduate academic degree as much as a professional entrée is demanding higher academic qualifications and research outputs from teaching staff.
There was an unexpectedly positive response to the call for papers and over forty delegates gathered to hear nine speakers from over South Africa, with interest from further afield as well. Most of the delegates were full-time or sessional lecturers in architecture, but there were also academics from other university departments who were interested in the teaching strategies being used in the programme. The papers were generally on research that had developed out of presenters’ own teaching practices and were therefore highly relevant to practicing academics.
Since most presenters are currently working towards publishing their research, it was decided to only publish abstracts and use the symposium primarily as a forum for researchers to expose their ideas to criticism and feedback. For all delegates, it was a chance to share and discuss ideas about practice. This happened with considerable openness, enthusiasm and a good level of energy. The general consensus was that this should continue, which resulted in the founding of the Architectural Education Forum which will be hosting a discussion entitled “Architectural Education Otherwhere – seen from the South” at the UIA conference in Durban in August 2014. For inquiries, e-mail ArchiEdForum@gmail.com. There is also a mandate for a next symposium at Wits in 2016.
Ariane Janse van Rensburg
Senior lecturer in Architecture
School of Architecture and Planning, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg