Alphaville Oakville beckons! / Image: Video still from Godard’s Alphaville (1965)
As I close this term and begin packing for the holidays, I contemplate once more the vast array of experiences and involvements that ran parallel to my dissertation writing, and which collectively made the last few months extremely memorable.
Agency, Agenda, and Social Space: My course offering this fall was structured around five interconnected themes: Space, Everyday Life, Agency, Voice, Participation, and Program. Each of these themes was selected and strung together in ways to help clarify and encourage connections between and among the different positions on social and political values of space. The assigned readings were not exhaustive, and given my background, there was bias towards critical cultural and sociological writings, which I viewed as interdisciplinary in scope as well as of special significance to architecture students. During our last session at Mighty Good Coffee, I offered a reflective understanding of space in relation to each of the five themes. The students, on their part, came with extremely insightful one-page handouts that spoke to a specific theme or a combination of themes of interest. I consider myself very fortunate to have had such socially conscious individuals be part of this class. My plan is to continue this engagement beyond the classroom and beyond our respective programs. More on that when I come up for air next year!
Social Space / Spatial Practice Publication: After a long wait, I am pleased to announce that my course documentation will be published by CEPT University Press in the coming year. With the objective of encouraging continued undertakings of similar nature in the Urban Design program at CEPT, my suggestion for the publication title was “Pedagogical Experiments in Urban Design. Episode 1: Social Space, Spatial Practice.” Course documentations, I believe, need to position themselves as contributions to current concerns in theory and practice of architecture and urban design. They must raise questions that outline and inform contemporary design discourse and forms of pedagogy. The suggested title speaks to this ambition. I used “pedagogy” to set the stage for consistent engagements with questions of space and society from within the Urban Design program and to encourage new ways of connecting urban design education to people, places, and practices. I took “episode” to be more than an incidental event in a given academic year (a lecture, seminar, workshop, or studio). Episode carries with it notions of both a part and a whole, in other words, an installment of an experimental series, at once separate from it, constitutive of it, and in dialogue with it. I cannot wait to lay my hands on the printed copy.
EDRA 44 Providence Spring 2013: At the next EDRA meeting, I will be chairing and presenting in a symposium on environmental design research methods. The session entitled, “Enriching Environmental Design Research” will go beyond the traditional tendency to equate design with intuition and research with science, and look at interdisciplinary assumptions, methods, and frameworks that speak to multiple epistemological positions and strategies of shared value to both activities. Specifically, the symposium will cover a spectrum of methodological positions that explore a variety of research designs and discuss their limits and potentials to contribute to new knowledge in our field. On a personal note, I am delighted that my advisor will be reconnecting with her peers through this symposium after a lengthy hiatus (of almost a decade).
Here’s hoping that next year is equally encouraging. Happy Holidays to everyone!