International Journal of Art & Design Education

The Limits of Professional Architectural Education

Volume 29.2   2010



Professional architectural education is overwhelmingly predicated on skills development. Consequently, the humanities are given short shrift. Students overburdened with an abundance of practical tasks cannot be expected to do much beyond completing studio project work with any degree of depth. Such splitting has a negative outcome: at the end of their education, many graduates still have difficulty constructing a convincing argument about their own work. And when professional qualification is achieved, many architects are arguably missing the humanities half of their education. Such a narrowly focused training surely contributes to the general low quality of the built environment that we inhabit.
The apparent causes and effects of the current situation are analysed here, especially the degree to which the rise of an academic culture in architecture has paradoxically exacerbated a split between the humanities and design. By widening the divide between speculative, theoretical and historical research and the professional education delivery systems that architectural researchers teach into, the ascendancy of (humanities-based) research in architecture schools has intensified the separation of theory and history from design. Ultimately, only if the production model that so often organises architecture education is rethought, will it be possible to recuperate a strong humanities stream in design education.