Informal Learning in Architectural Education: Learning in Complex Ecologies of Human and Non-Human Agents.


Most research on architectural education focuses on formal teaching events. Mainly, it analyses meetings of students and teachers in tutorial sessions and design reviews. In architecture education, however, students develop their design knowledge mainly between formal teaching sessions and in informal ways. They engage with complex and open-ended design problems, cycling between making tangible and virtual objects and reflecting in and on their actions. These learning processes are difficult to trace as they usually occur in different venues and within complex ecologies of human and non-human agents. The primary aim of this study is to contribute an empirical account of informal modes of learning, especially but not solely, of design and architectural education. It follows a unique architecture master’s program where students live and learn on campus. This immersive setting, where all living and learning needs, such as students’ dormitories, their studios, a kitchen, a wood workshop, and a FabLab, are located in the same building, provides a unique opportunity to follow the students’ informal learning interactions. Our data sets comprise 146 hours of rich ethnographic documentation written over eight months. We use a Sociomaterial approach to analyse our data and interpret our findings. Our study offers two kinds of contributions: Theoretically, we demonstrate how a sociomaterial perspective can explain informal learning processes and introduce the term Designlearn to describe them; Pedagogically, we reevaluate the role of the design instructor as an actor within a complex web of dynamic interactions between humans and non-human agents acting together to generate knowledge.


Barak Pelman
Director - Hybrid Pedagogy of Arts and Design Research Lab, School of Architecture, Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design Jerusalem, Israel


Presentation Type

Paper Presentation in a Themed Session


Design Education



Digital Media


Informal Learning In Architectural Education (Embed)