Basic Design is generally the first interface of students of architecture with the word ‘design’. I came across a nice quote on Twitter by a Venture Capitalist and an Entrepreneur, Kris Nair, which goes as follows:
Creativity is not the finding of a thing, but the making something out of it after it is found.
— Kris Nair (@krisnair) April 13, 2012
For sure, when it comes to creativity, single approach, linear approach and normal approach will not suffice and in most cases these will fail. Basic Design, is highly subjective but has a very well defined (but unwritten) objective in architecture curriculum, and that is:
“Open up students’ minds.”
As a teacher of Basic Design, I have always felt that it is more important for teachers to make students think and ask questions than finding specific answers. I know I have repeated this in past, many times. Basic Design is more about explorations than finding answers or reaching conclusions.
Interestingly, designing Basic Design exercise is a wonderful process and most of the times, I am myself confused as what to expect at the “end”. A good looking composition? A well done model? or understanding the student’s thinking process? Designing an exercise in itself is a challenge, as one needs to be sure what is to be expected as outcome. And, for subjects like Basic Design, outcome should not be associated with the good looking sheets or models, I think.
The fear of holding a pencil, leave alone drawing. I once asked students, when was the last time they drew something with pencil, before they joined architecture institute (ignore entrance exams)? Most of them said, it was around six years back. Now that itself is another challenge. Pencil, in that case, is a new tool and we take it for granted that students are familiar with it.
Vocabulary, one thing that we teachers and students both need to regularly update ourselves with. It can only be improved or polished if while discussing with students we choose our words carefully and introduce new words at right places and with right emphasis. Even, words like ‘balance’, which may sound simple have enough complexity.
Often, I may be generalizing here, I have experienced that even the exercises repeat over the years and are carried from one batch to another, with same format, specifications and even tone, unfortunately which becomes a ‘system’. We need to innovate new exercises, there is a very big room for this. There is no dearth of information available on Basic Design teaching and learning, on Internet and in libraries.
Concluding, these are only few of many challenges that are discussed here. During my last few interactions with students, I have also realised, all of a sudden, that the biggest challenge is to accept that every batch is a new set and psyche of students.
This is the first and spontaneous draft of the post, this will be updated eventually. I look forward to your comments and feedback, specially Basic Design Teachers.