Black-boxing design education

  • YEAR
    Irving, Daniel
    2010 Conference Papers


ABSTRACT: There is a long-standing dispute in landscape architecture over whether professional
education should aim to improve graduates’ skills in office and production-related practices, or
enhance graduates’ grasp and application of theory and research in design. While the design
community seeks to cultivate emerging design talent, design practice can often be viewed in very
different ways. A recent shift in practice toward a hybrid model of research through design
experimentation suggests a need to re-think the traditional dichotomy between knowledge creation and
practice. The increasingly cross-disciplinary nature of design practice makes this hybrid model
particularly relevant for landscape architecture, which has tended, historically, to graft professional
knowledge from related fields. Hybrid practice may, in fact, exemplify an evolving mode of spatial
practice in landscape architecture. Further, this hybrid mode of practice understands education as an
active, experimental practice, as students engage in serious critiques of their own investigative
methods and integrate different forms of knowledge.

This paper explores the emerging language of hybrid practice, showing that improvisation, openness,
and self-critical processes are successful developments in an archetypal ‘black box’ design
methodology currently entering the field of production through education.


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