How do you sketch with someone a thousand miles away? A review of the early Cyber-Studio experiments

  • YEAR
    Slee, Ben
    2021 Symposium Abstracts
    Conference Papers


There are a growing number of students studying architecture in the Global South. There is also a clear and documented need for these architects due to the rapidly expanding populations, urbanisation and climate change. However, there is a dearth of built environment professionals able to teach them.

This project reports on a strategy to replicate the traditional Design Studio in cyber-space, prior to the pandemic, connecting tutors from around the globe to students in Uganda for live design tutorials in which they were able to share ideas by sketching together on the same drawing.

The presentation will outline the various stages of the project from initial conceptualisation, through proof of concept to initial trials.

The project adopted an Action-Research approach, learning through doing, that reflects the iterative and dialogic nature of the architectural design studio. The testing and evaluation of the system followed three stages utilising a mixed mode approach that incorporates informal qualitative feedback, quantitative feedback and qualitative feedback based around series of
structured questions.

The results demonstrated that the Cyber-Studio is a useful and effective tool for delivering architectural education to students in the Global South. It has meaningful benefits for both students and tutors. There are also many opportunities to learn from these initial studies an apply those lessons to both further Cyber-Studios and, more broadly, to design workshops mediated through cyberspace in a post-pandemic hyper-connected world.

The project delivered a number of lessons: The value of preparation, the value of face-to-face interactions and the power of dialogue in different forms to stimulate the imagination, reveal opportunities and build relationships. The project has also shown that even in cyber-space the physical environment is important: the quality of light, perception of safety and acoustics in a space all influence people’s ability to participate. The reliability of technology, security of data bandwidth and power supply are all essential.


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