Critical reflections on Live Projects with a view to co-creating a pedagogic best practice framework

Thursday 24th - Saturday 26th May 2012
Oxford Brookes University, Headington Hill Campus.

A three-day international symposium by and for live project educators, live-project community participants, live project students, practice architects involved in community co-design, University management involved in community partnership projects, and live project practitioners and participants from associated fields and disciplines.

Themes include:

Problem-based learning, community-engaged scholarship, co-design, peer-based learning, tacit knowledge, threshold concepts, practice-ready skills, professionalism and ethics, diversity, critical citizenship, education futures, deep and surface learning, live project methodologies and paradigms, architecture curriculum, assessment and validation.

Overview: Why do we need critical live architecture project pedagogy?

Benefits to clients

The recent economic downturn and ongoing restructuring of both the professional training and design practice management, signifies a tipping point in the way we currently teach and practice architecture. As a profession, architects are by definition tasked with serving the interests of the public. Yet many architects would argue that delivering upon this requirement is not without difficulty given the constraints of a sector focused triptych that prioritises time, quality and cost over human factors.

Benefits to the profession

Architecture practices have often voiced concerns that schools of architecture do not provide students with the right set of skills needed in practice. Schools often defend their teaching by emphasising the role of Universities in developing creative and aesthetic capabilities that will produce good designers and ultimately good buildings and spaces. This kind of teaching is usually delivered within a studio environment that presents students with fictional rather than 'real time' challenges considered to be more likely to produce visionary and creative design output.

Benefits to students

The majority of UK architecture students have no contact with clients or with the consultation process until after they graduate. 'Live studio' projects not only address this but they also enable students to gain practice-ready professional experience such as job running, as well as develop a sense of civic social engagement and gain an education that is aimed at nurturing tomorrow's citizens for lives of consequence.

Benefits to Universities

As well as Universities, public sector organisations and charities are facing financial pressure upon their ability to deliver to their clients effectively. Although this presents huge challenges in terms of resources, this is also an opportunity to establish partnerships that provide enduring benefits by mobilising students, faculty, and neighbourhood organizations to work together to solve urban problems that revitalize the economy, generate jobs, and rebuild communities. In the USA, these partnerships are far more prevalent than in the UK. Known as Community University Partnerships, these 'resource units' that are often located on and off campus, provide effective, community-engaged scholarship for students from a range of disciplines. Based upon the success rate of these kinds of learning environments, UK Universities clearly have some catching up to do.

The knowledge gap

The principle aim of this symposium is to critically examine the learning value of live projects to students of architecture and to consider how they are attained and what their value is, particularly in terms of the students professional development and to the shaping of the profession as a whole.

During the symposium, live project 'best practice' will be critically defined in the interests of educators, students and schools alike. Subsequently, delegates will co-author a Live Project Pedagogy Charter, aimed at enabling Live Projects to be validated, academically accredited and formally integrated into mainstream architecture curriculum.

Format of Presentations

Paper sessions will consist of four presenters within each 90-minute session. Each session will be chaired. The session time will be divided equally between the presenters. Workshop presentations will be given a full 90-minute session. Panel sessions will provide an opportunity for three or more presenters to speak in a more open and conversational setting with conference attendees.

Conference highlights:

Two-Week International Live Project Summer School 2012: Montana State University & Oxford Brookes

The symposium will include visits to and presentations by community and student participants to an Oxford-based Live Project Summer School - partnered with Oxford City Council – and involving students from graduate architecture programs at Montana State University & Oxford Brookes University. The Live Project Summer School will be directed by Prof Chris Livingston from Montana State University.

Symposium outputs and publications:

There will be three published outputs associated with this conference:

  1. All contributions will be published as part of the conference proceedings which will be made available at registration.
  2. A Live Project Pedagogy Charter will be published after the event.
  3. A selection of contributions will be submitted to a leading international peer-reviewed journal, to feature as a special issue.

Parallel Sessions Schedule

Also available here to download in PDF format

Thursday 24th May

Live Project Pedagogy Symposium Launch & Exhibition

Chair: Lynetter Widdler, RSD, USA
9.30Jane Anderson Developing a Live Projects Network and Flexible Methodology for Live Projects. Oxford Brookes University, UK
9.45Megan Clark Engage at CCA. CCA, USA
10.00Kishnaphol Wattanawanyoo Learning from Informal Communities in Bangkok KMUTT, Thailand
10.15Elizabeth Danze Building as Hope. The University of Texas, USA
10.30Yatmo Yando Understanding the Structure of Community and the Nature of Intervention University of Indonesia
10.45Concluding comments
Chair: Chris Rust, OCSLD, Oxford Brookes, UK
9.30Chris Livingston In People's Interest Montana State University , USA
9.45Tonia Carless Open School Oxford Brookes, UK
10.00Umair Hyder Shelter for Community University of East London, UK
10.15Dr Sigrun Prahl Community Engaged Learning & Designing in New Orleans University of the Arts Berlin, Germany
10.30Alan Chandler Building is also a verb University of East London, UK
10.45Concluding comments
Chair: Jane Anderson, Oxford Brookes University, UK
11.15Lynnette Widder What Belongs to Architecture: Teaching the Interplay of Labour and Material as Value. RSD, USA
11.30Shibboleth Shechter Co-designing Speakers Corner University of the Arts London, UK
11.45Kristina Koltov LT Ranch Project Space University of the Creative Arts Canterbury, UK
12.00Beverly Sandalack The Urban Lab University of Calgary, Canada
12.15Michael Hughes Cross-disciplinary pedagogy American University of Sharjah, UAE
12.30Concluding comments
Chair: Mike Martin, UC Berkeley, USA
11.15Bruno Silvestre Reality as Inspiration Oxford Brookes University, UK
11.30Anna Grichting The Fredrick Douglas Peace Garden Qatar University, UAE
11.45Sebastian Messer The Northern Architecture Grad Program Northumbria University, UK
12.00Bruce Wrightsman Hyalite Pavilion Montana State University, USA
12.15Christina Volkmann How to Define Yourself as a Competent Architect CCNY, USA
12.30Concluding comments
Chair: Helen Walkington, Oxford Brookes, UK
11.15Charlie Fisher & Natasha Lofthouse Fiction and Nonfiction: Writing the Scalable Brief Oxford Brookes University, UK
11.30Gareth Leech Professional Readiness and Live Projects Oxford Brookes University, UK.
11.45Ben Powell Whose Experience Counts? Oxford Brookes University, UK
12.00Sophie Morley PLA Live Oxford Brookes University, UK
12.15Sofia Davies Revisiting Communities after the Tsunami Oxford Brookes University, UK
12.30Concluding comments
Chair: Ruth Morrow, Queens University Belfast, Ireland
13.45James Brown Situated Knowledges Queens University Belfast, Ireland
14.00Frank Mruk NYIT LAB NYIT, USA
14.15Richard Klopp Community as Classroom Vanier College Montreal, Canada
14.30Alex Megelas Autonomous Learning: DIY Communities of Practice in Montreal's South West Concordia University of Montreal, Canada
14.45Barnaby Bennett Spatial Crises & Pedagogical Opportunity in Christchurch UTS Sydney, Australia
15.00Concluding comments
Chair: Suzi Winstanley, Penoyre & Prasad Architects, UK
13.45Vincent Lacovara Me and Croydon AOC, UK
14.00Cristina Monteiro Live in Venice MUF, UK
14.15Jamie Wakeford Voluntary Design & Build 'Romania' vD&B, UK
15.00Concluding comments
Chair: Susan Piedmont-Palladino Virginia Tech, USA
13.45Mike Martin Building Stories UC Berkeley, USA.
14.00Dr Yung-Teen Who's 29? National Taiwan University of Education, China.
14.15Paramita Atmodiwirjo Working with Children: Building Vocabulary for Architectural Practice University of Indonesia.
14.30Suruchi Ranadive & Geetanjali Patil, Traditional Wisdom Pune University, India
15.00Concluding comments
Chairs: David Gloster, Director of Education RIBA, UK
15.30Andrew Brown Interdisciplinary Live Project Studio Robert Gordon University, Scotland
15.45Sandra Denicke-Polcher & Torange Khonsari Architecture of Multiple Authorship London Met, UK
16.00David Owen Embedding Public Engagement in the Curriculum NCCPE, UK
16.15Simon Warren, The Fareshare Project, Leeds Met, UK
16.30Alex Maclaren Teambuild: New Formats for Delivery Of Learning & Construction University of Edinburgh, Scotland
16.45Anne Markey RIBA Part I & II Experience London Metropolitan University, UK
17.00Concluding comments - Saturday CHARTER briefing

Session Chairs

Professor David Gloster, Director of Education, RIBA

Jane Anderson, Principal Lecturer & Program Leader BA Architecture, Oxford Brookes University

Suzi Winstanley, Architect and Associate at Penyore & Prasad Architects, London, UK

Chris Rust, Head of OCSLD, Oxford Brookes, UK

Susan Piedmont-Palladino, Virginia Tech, USA

Charlie Fisher, Natasha Lofthouse & Helen Walkington (student-led session) Oxford Brookes University, UK

Professor Mike Martin, Professor Emeritus of Architecture; Faculty in Environmental Design, Berkeley, USA

Associate Professor Lynette Widder, Rhode Island School of Design, USA

Harriet Harriss, Senior Lecturer in Architecture, Oxford Brookes Associate Teaching Fellow (2010-12), Winston Churchill Trust Fellow (2011) Oxford Brookes University

Prof Ruth Morrow Professor of Architecture, SPACE: School of Planning Architecture and Civil Engineering

Helen Walkington, Oxford Brookes, UK


Prof Jeremy Till
University of Westminster. Author of Architecture Depends (2009)

Prue Chiles
Director of bureau design + research, University of Sheffield. Author of 'LIVE' (2012)

Prof Ruth Morrow
Professor of Architecture
SPACE: School of Planning Architecture and Civil Engineering

Melanie Dodd, Associate Professor RMIT, Australia. Author, Live Projects; designing with People (2012)


The event is CPD accredited and all attendees will receive a qualifying certificate.


Deadline for abstracts:

Closed 8pm (GMT) Monday 28th November 2011

Further enquiries should be directed to the conference organiser: