Simple Models Create Steep Learning Curves in Academic Design Studio

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

This paper presents an easily adaptable, very learning-efficient and solution-oriented design studio method: ‘the simple model method’. On a practical level it solves well known problems that occur when teaching design studios. On a theoretical level it suggests a ‘third way’ of bridging design theory positions normally regarded as mutually incompatible. The method is the result of years of ‘trial and error’ design studio teaching at the University of Copenhagen, triangulated with academic design theory research.

Research based design studio teaching poses a fundamental pedagogical challenge, as it must combine skill-based design practice with academic-explicated theories and methods. The vehicle in the development of the simple model method is overcoming the challenge of ensuring that a group of students with various backgrounds and cultures can produce specific and consistent design proposals within a limited time period. While simultaneously providing them with an overall understanding of, and tools to handle the design process. The simple model method provides a physical platform to facilitate the exchange of ideas and experience through seeing, for both individuals and groups of students, their supervisors and other actors. The simple model is a non-verbal agent. However, due to its simplicity it enables verbalization supporting a solution-focused design studio teaching strategy.

The simple model method is presented through a specific design studio course undertaken at the University of Copenhagen and is discussed according to staged, systematic design process thinking on the one hand, and wicked-problem thinking on the other. Reflections on the possible theoretical contexts of the interactive use of the simple model method throughout the design process suggest a possible theoretical ‘third way’, acknowledging both the staged design process as well as the wicked problem/solution entangled nature of the design process. In a pedagogical perspective the simple model method has the capacity to bridge theory with practice. The iterative use of the method in combination with its physical, spatial appearance helps the students work with and understand design as both a product and a process.
Original languageEnglish
JournalFusion Journal
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 2014

ID: 131733603