This paper advocates the integration of research into undergraduate architectural education by arguing for the exposure of students to primary source materials that enable them to get as close as possible to the realities being studied. It introduces the concept of “utilizing the built environment as an open textbook” by outlining a framework within which an impressionistic approach for evaluating the built environment through experiential learning can be incorporated. It argues for exposing students to primary source materials and for educating them about the production of knowledge. The papers outlines an approach for learning from Qatari architecture by conducting procedural evaluation of ten buildings identified based on discussions with students. Findings indicate that students were able to make judgments about the built environment and to give reasons for those judgments. However, students’ analyses reveal shortcomings in their abilities to comment, where some could not express their concerns verbally while few could not write an understandable reporting statement. Students’ feedback on this experiment reveals that this approach helped them recognize what to look for in the building, understand relationships between different design factors, while comprehending the impact of one factor over others. Based on these results the need for incorporating evaluation research through experiential learning into architectural pedagogy is emphasized.
Salama, Ashraf. "Contemporary Qatari Architecture as an Open Textbook," in ArchNet-IJAR: International Journal of Architectural Research, vol. 1, issue 3 (2007).