Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Shaping Architectural Discourse by Architecture Students at Queen's University Belfast, Ashraf M. Salama, 2009

A Recent Review Compiled and Edited by Ashraf M. Salama Published in
Archnet-IJAR, International Journal of Architectural Research,
Volume 3, Issue 2, (July 2009),
PP. 130-173
Ashraf M. Salama

Architecture Students at Queen’s University Belfast Review Selected Books on Person-Environment Interactions


As part of a specialist subject (elective) on Socio-Behavioral and Cultural Factors in Architecture and Urban Design, which I teach to architecture students at Queen’s University Belfast, a book review assignment was delivered. The course aims at introducing students to cultural, social, and psychological issues in architectural and urban design, and their value to successful design practices. It provides an overview and analysis of the literature and major scholars, researchers, and practitioners. An integral component of the course is an intensive discussion of issues that pertain to ways in which information about socio-cultural factors and environment-behaviour knowledge can be applied to design projects. In more specific terms, the objectives of the course therefore encompass: 1) To increase students’ sensitivity to the built environment and to break any habits of taking the environment for granted; 2) To acquaint students with particular knowledge of a variety of environments including residential, work, learning, and urban environments. Since our societies are in a continuous process of transformation, we must engage in sound future design that would involve the systematic examination of the relationship between culture, behaviour, and the environment; 3) To enhance students’ understanding of the core concepts regarding human-environment relations and how these concepts vary by different cultures and sub-cultures, 4) To develop students critical thinking abilities about the role of the built form in fostering, enhancing, or inhibiting cultural behaviours and attitudes. In this article, I discuss the notion of reviews and book reviews, outline the assignment delivered to architecture students at Queen’s University Belfast, then present selected students’ reviews. While this article is simply a presentation of students’ work, the ultimate objective is to offer a package of ideas and concepts generated in the literature of person-environment interaction as viewed by the students. This is coupled with students’ articulations of and reflections on how the merits and demerits of those ideas and the way in which they relate to such ideas in their reviews. While this article does not reflect on students’ work and does not have a conclusion, it calls for a database that is exclusively dedicated to reviewed books on person-environment interactions, which could be published online on the web of one of the societies or associations concerned with people-environment interactions including EDRA-Environmental Design Research Association and IAPS-International Association of People-Environments Studies.

Click here to download the full review
Architecture-Urbanism is dedicated to a) those who are interested in creating livable and sustainable environments and buildings that meet socio-cultural and socio-behavioral needs of people, environments that are responsive to historical, traditional and physical constraints, b) to those who are interested in finding panacea for the ills of our globalized world, and c) to those who are interested in regaining what cultures and societies have lost by the acts of architects. ____________________________________________________________________________