Buildings as Pedagogical Devices: Analyzing the Impact of the Learning Environment in the Education of Architects


For educators and learners in the architecture field, the architecture school’s building can provide an environment with real-size demonstrations of the implementation of theories and technologies, offering additional value in the learning process. Emblematic architecture school buildings such as the ones in Sao Paulo by João Vilanova Artigas, or in Porto by Alvaro Siza are not just neutral containers of academic activities but influential in the development of design agendas by students and faculty that extends beyond into the professional field. However, the building’s influence on design education and its role as a relevant proof of concept is often overlooked. The research process examines precedents and then focuses on a school architecture building located in the United Arab Emirates that houses a 280-student department of architecture. It also looks at other relevant case studies found in the United States and Latin America. Using a case study approach and by developing analytical diagrams, on-site observations, and focused interviews. The research considers three ways in which buildings can impact design education: First, the impact of more specific variables related to building performance but not specific to architecture schools, such as acoustic control or wayfinding. Secondly, the architectural design studio setting, as the primary spatial component of any architecture school; and thirdly, the larger implications of the building when considered as an example of the implementation of design philosophies, including formal, spatial, and material discourses.


Roberto Castillo
Assistant Professor, Architecture, American University of Sharjah, Ash Shariqah [Sharjah], United Arab Emirates


Presentation Type

Paper Presentation in a Themed Session


Design Education


Architecture Education, Architecture Schools, Learning Environments

Digital Media


Buildings as Pedagogical Devices (pdf)