MAKE Studio: A Reflection on The Value of The Design Charrette in Architectural Education

Rachel Couper, Ivana Kuzmanovska

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference PaperResearchpeer-review


This paper examines the 2017 MAKE DesignBUILD Raw Intensive Studio (or MAKE Studio) at the University of Sydney as a means through which undergraduate students were introduced to fundamental elements of design research in architecture through a material-based, fast-paced, iterative process of design development. The MAKE Studio was conceived in the tradition of the architectural design charrette. It was structured in a competition-style format that ran over two weeks, incorporating real clients and a real build. The studio culminated in the construction of two student-designed structures for the 2017 DesignBUILD Expo. Enrolment for the studio was open to all architecture undergraduates, creating a student group with a broad mix of skill-sets. The success of the teaching method for the studio was evidenced by the fact that, contrary to expectation, the winning design was completed by a group of relatively inexperienced first years. This paper examines findings from the MAKE Studio, which suggest that in order for the design charrette to be an effective introduction to research design methodologies, particularly research through design, it needs to incorporate key elements. These include a real build with a relatively simple project brief and limited scope; a competition style, fast-paced, intensive format with a focus on speed of production; and iterative media rotation as modes of working. Regular presentations to clients or a jury are imperative to facilitate a feedback response loop that can be translated through iterative, non-linear design development. A mix of different year groups enhances the development of a cumulative, collective knowledge base via collaborative group work and discussion. In addition, a pass or fail assessment criteria and mandatory attendance mitigate the risk of limiting student engagement with explorative design. Through a discussion of the MAKE Studio, this paper considers the value of the intensive design charrette as an invaluable experience through which students gain firsthand experience in architectural design research methodologies. This paper therefore advocates for the continued inclusion of the face-to-face intensive studio in architectural design education, particularly in an academic landscape that is progressively shifting towards online methods of course delivery.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 1st Annual Design Research Conference (ADR18)
EditorsDuncan W. Maxwell
Place of PublicationSydney NSW Australia
PublisherUniversity of Sydney
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9780646992495
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes
EventAnnual Design Research Conference 2018 - The University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia
Duration: 27 Sept 201828 Sept 2018
Conference number: 1st


ConferenceAnnual Design Research Conference 2018
Abbreviated titleADR 2018
Internet address

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