Teaching Value: Attention and Care in Reuse Pedagogy

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Abstract / Description of output

The paper draws on the author’s recent monograph on reuse and design potentials (Ferracina, Routledge 2022) and on ongoing pedagogical experiments at the Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (ESALA), The University of Edinburgh. Through examples of student work from architectural design studios about reuse and repurposing led over the past five years, the paper considers how reuse—as a teaching and learning ethos, rather than as a mere brief or programmatic prompt—promotes a reassessment not only of the value of buildings, components, and materials, or of their histories and meanings, but of the paradigms and conceptual frameworks according to which architects and academics ascribe meaning and value in the first place. What does it mean to understand tectonic protocols as forms of attention and care towards that which already exists, rather than forms of expertise and expression? How can the embodiment of energy, carbon, and labor alone justify the preservation of existing structures, regardless of their architectural or historical merit? How can uncertainty, and the latent violence or toxicity embedded within found structures and materials, be engaged with in the context of a design studio? How does a direct engagement with the harvesting, reconditioning, and repair of materials and components, or with the live building of structures and prototypes, confuse the presumed boundary between design and construction, intellectual and manual labor? And how are notions and indexes of individual authorship and originality re-framed by radical forms of collaboration with existing buildings and materials, as well as with local communities? And finally: how can design values in the education of architects navigate the tension between the independent identity of fragments and building components (towards deconstruction and reclamation) and the wholes they compose and contribute to (towards preservation and adaptive reuse)? The paper will explore these questions, considering how they might begin to unravel some of the architecture studio’s traditional outputs, biases, and assessment structures.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 6 Sept 2023

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