My interest in design education has evolved over my years of teaching beginning architecture students; this teaching experience has shaped how I think of education as an explorative process of learning through creating.
As computer tools have replaced paper-based media, traditional ways to express spatial concepts have become implicitly embedded in the internal process of software. For instance, the idea of spatial depth was explicitly delivered during the process of drawing perspectives. We now have sophisticated geometric modeling tools that draw technically better perspectives for us. The fundamental ideas—our representation of 3-D form in space with such concepts as distance, depth, and changing positions shifting directions of observation—are now presented as a menu: camera, construction plane, and cone of vision. If used mindlessly, having computational tools may diminish students’ exposure to ideas that should not evaporate from design education. There are ideas that should be developed individually: perceptions of forms, experiences from real-life travels, feelings about spatial phenomena, and our representation of them: the part we want to share, deliver, and describe as our expression. In my courses, I elicit the use of various types of media, emphasizing the workflow between the physical and the digital and encouraged students to combine them. I believe the ultimate goal of teaching foundation courses must be to make students tool-independent, fostering their ability to compare and identify necessary techniques and, if possible, to transform existing representational techniques for creative purposes.
Design educators and practitioners are now witnessing a prevailing interest in fast-changing media that will demand changes in design education. Certain levels of knowledge about basics of digital media will be necessary in basic design education; however, any changes should be firmly grounded in an understanding of fundamentals and relationships of two different disciplines—design and computation, similarities and differences of analog and digital media, and advantages and effectiveness of various representational methods for clearer communication, because domain knowledge is the essence of education. My current course is an effort to initiate the integration of the field of computation and digital media into the current design curriculum by embedding basic concepts of computation in a traditional studio-based educational environment for design students. While the course introduces various design methods such as paper folding and design modules in developing 3-D surface forms, it can also be easily converted into experimental form-finding fabrication courses for upper-level design courses using advanced computational methods such as parametric design, physical computing, and/or robotics.
As technology has begun to ask designers to invent ways of using new tools and methods, putting an emphasis on design thinking in the education of architects will also become necessary. Practical design issues are often diverse; they may be regional or global, simultaneously social and technical. They are, primarily, complicated. Because design problems are complex, conceptualization—the ability to operate and solve problems on multiple layers of abstraction while building up relationships of various types of entities— will be an important characteristic of future designers. As a designer who experienced many fast-paced design competitions, I have witnessed the significance of maintaining and articulating abstract ideas during the design processes, which led me to cross the boundaries between architecture and computer science in order to find the means to support the designers from a designer’s perspective.
Reading media as a mode of inquiries, I see the potential of my solid understanding in architecture and computational design to methodologically link research and design together to make impact on education. Teaching and research are closely linked. Research yields new knowledge that contributes to course contents. Teaching brings new findings into focus, and students at all levels raise questions that challenge existing approaches and understanding. Knowing that logic and intuition are complementary, I view teaching as a means to demonstrate how we relate design ideas and represent them in different ways, taking advantages of current tools. This approach also highlights the importance and opportunity of taking a multidisciplinary stance in positioning art and design within the broader context of design research. This explains my current position as a designer who programs to conduct research by building design tools; I find the most compelling argument for this approach when I apply it to teaching.