At the turn of the 20th Century, with the industrial revolution in full swing, a fervent debate arose over the prospective focus of education within this new social order: whether the study of the sciences or the arts should dominate. During the inauguration of Sir Joseph Mason's College in Birmingham, Thomas Henry Huxley presented an address on Science and Culture proclaiming an education constituted wholly of the scientific perspective is equal to that of an education of a literary nature. This address was in some respect directed at Huxley's friend the great poet and critic, Matthew Arnold, who responded in kind with his own rebuttal titled, Literature and Science. In this essay he expanded on and clarified his position insisting that to know ourselves and the world, we have to know the best that has been thought or said in the world. It seems these two perspectives have commingled freely within the praxis of architecture for centuries. Though in this day and age the academic and practical worlds seem greatly at odds over what is useful knowledge.
Now as we proceed into the age of information we again find ourselves reexamining the foundations of education. In the realm of architecture this vetting has come to center stage with the threat of closure of the Cambridge University School of Architecture after failing to meet university research standards. Within the context of the phrase Ã¢â‚¬Ëœresearch standards' one might ask what measure is there to weigh such standards for architecture? Architecture for me is a discursive science and within that framing there can be no precise measurement of the value or type of research conducted. It would seem the real question at hand is whether architecture meets the needs of modern life, reigning it in from a predominately Ã¢â‚¬Ëœart' orientated perspective to an even more Ã¢â‚¬Ëœscientific' approach.
The current exhaustive search for the new leadership at the Architectural Association is another turning point for architectural education. In the same spirit of debate between Arnold and Huxley the AA created it's own set of discourses (PDF) between October 25th and November 5th 2004. Here we present a selected few to further generate discourse and discussion on education and architecture”¦
- John Jourden
Possible Futures for the Architectural Association
Pedagogies of Architecture Beyond the Beaux-Arts: Theories, Methods, Structures and Forms. And Finally, Did you know?
The Happy Volcano: A Description of the I deal Architecture School
A Tradition of Experiment: The History of the AA School
My Thoughts on Architectural Education
7 Lampless Questions
John Jourden is an (a)rchitect and pathological thinker living in New York.