Strategic Deviations: Pedagogical Surprises in the Expected Flow of Things

Angeliki Sioli, Kristen Kelsch

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractScientific


Presenting a pedagogical methodology developed to question the status-quo of the design studio, this paper discusses research on architectural pedagogy. Titled “Strategic Deviations,” this suggested methodology argues for the necessity of carefully orchestrated provocative and unexpected moments in the curriculum; moments that unsettle the students by connecting them with elements of the creative world outside architecture. By doing so the goal is two-fold: to expand their understanding of architecture’s definition and role in our contemporary society and to amplify their willingness to engage with new challenges, moving from a feeling of anxiety to one of creative control.

The discussion sets off with an overview of the approach’s philosophical and educational underpinning, situating it in a relevant literature of similar pedagogical methods. It elaborates on the educational context in which it was employed, the general student demographics, and the motivations which lead to its conception. It then zooms into the case of a recent first-year studio and presents three strategic deviations designed specifically for the given context and year-level: “The Dinner Party,” “The Literary Imagination,” and “The Cinematographic View.” Examining the way each of the deviations functions in the given architectural environment and the way it enhances the learning outcomes, the paper demonstrates how this methodology opens up possibilities to transform a student’s trajectory moving forward. Arguably most importantly, it works to pull forward inter- disciplinary links between architecture and other creative fields in a tangible way.

Presented as an opportunity to celebrate the beginning of a new semester, “The Dinner Party” is a playful and engaging way to bring forward architecture’s social capacity. It pulls from culinary culture to emphasize that architecture is often the design of an atmosphere, ritual or experience. Introduced as a deep breath during midterms week and camouflaged as a typical reading assignment, “The Literary Imagination” pulls from works of fiction to introduce students to alternative approaches for understanding, studying and representing space through the arts. Although perceived as an end of the semester documentation process, “The
Cinematographic View” reinforces the first-years’ role as part of a larger design community and touches on cinema’s alluring capacity to capture and communicate space.

Following a detailed description of the aforementioned deviations, the paper concludes by exploring the potential for this methodology to be employed in different contexts. It argues for the importance of an architectural education that surprises the students and connects emerging designers with the richness of the life and the world outside the confines of the discipline; the world for which they will be called to design for in the future.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2020


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