Higher education in the Middle East has experienced massive growth in the 21st century, creating favorable conditions for the establishment of architecture departments in universities throughout the region. Rapid changes in the global economy, technology, and the architecture profession make it timely to reflect upon the approaches adopted in architectural education. What is the skill set required for architecture graduates to successfully compete in and future markets? And how do educational institutions play a role in preparing graduates for those opportunities?
Architecture, as a field, prepares students to be versatile and flexible in the workplace. As such, one of the most pressing questions in architecture today is how these qualities can be leveraged to address the current conditions of global flux and uncertainty. How can these qualities of versatility enable architecture to play a role beyond its immediate boundaries of design and construction? How can architecture expand its contribution to different fields through different scales of engagement?
Adopting a visionary approach in architectural education and looking ahead to a more expansive role for architecture is the way forward. The Middle East is at a transformative point in its history and thus now, more than ever, it is important to develop a clear vision of the role architecture can play in the region’s cultural, social, and economic development.
Institutions of higher education are committed to preparing young graduates for future educational and professional opportunities. As part of this effort, the Architecture Department at Dar Al-Hekma University is organizing a conference on architectural education to encourage a wide-ranging discussion among academics and practitioners on the most up-to-date practices in architectural education.
The process of architectural education cultivates a unique skill set that enhances intellectual curiosity, critical reflection, problem-solving, and visual thinking. The medium of instruction, the studio, is a space for continuous engagement with peers and instructors. It is a space that enables design development through a process of internal and external critique. It is, therefore, imperative that architecture departments address how the studio can be best structured to create the most stimulating and engaging experience possible for students.
The conference will also include a Round Table session, the objective of which is to have select academics and architecture professionals discuss key aspects of architectural education. They will highlight important issues relevant to the fields of their expertise through a thread of questions posed by the moderator.
Like academics and professionals, architecture students today engage in research related to all aspects of architecture, the building sciences, city planning, and landscape urbanism. By engaging in research, architecture students strengthen their design process while adding to the growing body of literature on the built environment.
The Student Research Forum provides architecture students with the opportunity to share their knowledge and insights with the broader community of academics and architecture professionals in the Middle East.