Special Semester – the beginning of the design thesis

I have been having conversations and dialogue with a few people regarding the design thesis and even had addressed my concerns with the 4th year students. Thinking, reviewing and analysing again and again about the problems with the system that we have at UM, there was a suggestion that we should have just one project brief and one site for 12-16 students, similar to the project that we have in the second year right now, i.e. Kampong Community Library in Bandung. Meaning rather than the student make their own brief and find their own site, why not, like in real life (architectural practice) the students are given a site and brief by the tutor (in real life the client) ready made where they can interpret the brief and go deeper into the project. If not we need to “teach” the students how to design a client’s brief. (As a young tutor before, I have so much difficulty in finding the right site and feel that with the students…) The students never did it in their life and as an argument sake, will not be doing that when they are in practice. It is always difficult for architects to interpret the client’s brief anyway (for real) especially when its vague.

Now, if the academic staff members could really understand this is the fundamental problem of the design thesis studio then they can start reviewing and finding the pros and cons of different systems and would have a better idea of how to approach this.

I agree with the opinion that having 20 (for example, the optimal number) different projects is interesting and is great for the academic staff and even visiting critics, but not so for the student. The learning outcomes (after each semester) has never been fully realised when we employ the method of students choosing their own projects. Only a few students would reach or achieve the learning outcomes set out at each end of the semester. So the approach / system employed, to be specific, that approach of having different projects and sites chosen individually is not the best approach to be used at UM. If it is chosen (still) then we really need to revise the special semester and I would even suggest that have a course to teach how to find a site and design a client’s brief (but isn’t that redundant, especially the latter?)

Can we have one project and one site approach? A lot of people for ‘sentimental’ reasons (argue) would be against it. But when people hear out the argument for one project and one brief, I believe that is the best approach.

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