A 21st Century Education

Gerard Reinnuth has edited a major new book on the Aarhus School of Architecture.

Titled "A Beaux Arts Education for the 21st Century" the book reviews the reconfigured first year program at the school.  The book is substantial written by three contributors - Gerard Reinmuth and the two academics responsible for the program - Anders Gammelgaard Nielsen and Anne Elisabeth Toft.

The book will be published in February 2011 and distributed internationally,

The book addresses the question of how a school of architecture whose practices are firmly planted in the Beaux Arts tradition respond to the conditions we face at the start of the 21st century?

 

In 2008 Torben Nielsen, the Dean of the Aarhus School of Architecture, selected a group of academics from the school who had varying research interests and pedagogic approaches and tasked them with reviewing the School’s education from top to bottom.  The group was then asked to consider how the Bachelor degree might be reformed in light of a perceived disjuncture between education, research and practice at the school and to start implementing these changes in the first year program.  The first year education at the school has subsequently been rebuilt over the past three years, culminating in the first complete test-drive of the new education in 2009-10.  This book is a record of the context within which this occurred, the steps that led to the development of the new curriculum and of the work undertaken in that year. 

 

First year is a formative experience in the student’s education and often reverberates throughout their career.  First year is often a shock, given the transition from a structured high school education to the demands of a higher education degree - particularly in regards to architecture where the curriculum and pedagogical models can be vastly different to anything students have previously experienced.  First year is the moment when students first encounter formal lectures about architecture and where they initially come into contact with the enormous range of techniques and skills that will be developed and refined over their careers.  Of equal importance is the immersive nature of the program.  First year is the site where students encounter the work ethic of an architect in practice for the first time.  This cocktail of information, sensory and at times physical overload leaves a strong impression which has a profound and continued effect on the way in which students develop an approach to design and the idea of the profession as a whole. 

 

This book attempts to problematize these changes at Aarhus and in doing so hopes to offer other schools a suite of questions and provocations to stimulate their own course development.  It is intended for a wide readership – from those considering where to commence an architecture degree to academics in other institutions who are wrestling with similar issues.  In addition to these specific audiences, it is also hoped that the broader profession will find the content relevant as they continue to reflect on their own practices in conjunction with their own educational experiences.