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Creativity, Calculation, & Curation: Research as a Framework for Cross-Disciplinary Collaboration

Challenges of building resilience and sustainability in the built environment demand collaboration across multiple disciplines in both research and practice.

Published onOct 24, 2019
Creativity, Calculation, & Curation: Research as a Framework for Cross-Disciplinary Collaboration
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Abstract

Challenges of building resilience and sustainability in the built environment demand collaboration across multiple disciplines in both research and practice. Traditional academic settings offer fertile but often challenging context in which research faculty can foster interdisciplinary collaboration informed by and contributing to new and more integrated knowledge. This paper presents an example of such a cross-curricular collaboration occurring through qualitative case study research, quantitative analysis, comparison, and communication design culminating in the curation of knowledge in a major public exhibit. Students studying architecture, engineering, art and design are collaborating across multiple courses and semesters to develop the intellectual content, experiential narratives, and physical artifacts that reflect the diverse opportunities and influence of education on the sustainable built environment. Emerging from the faculty’s broader inquiry into the architecture of persistence, this project posits durability of buildings as the ultimate measure of sustainability (and by extension, resilience) in architecture . Using quantitative and qualitative methods, researchers developed a theoretical framework for cultural, ecological and technological durability by analyzing interviews and projects. Six architecture students—who first engaged in the topic in a comprehensive studio—became research assistants documenting and analyzing specific precedents as material assemblies and cultural places. Using the resulting documentation, students in an environmental engineering course conducted whole-building Life Cycle Assessments. This body of quantitative and qualitative content feeds a representation course, in which design students examine the role of exhibitions in architectural discourse and develop narratives and objects that communicate material ecologies, assemblies and cultures to a disciplinary, and non-disciplinary audience.

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