chapter
15 Pages

Environmental and social action in the studio: three live projects along the

ByElizabeth River Phoebe Crisman

Design studio can be a highly effective venue for exploring agency and fostering envir-

onmental stewardship in architectural education, especially through a pedagogy that

invites students to take action in places and with populations underserved or even una-

ware of the potential benefits design can have on their environment. In several recent

studios at the University of Virginia School of Architecture, my students worked with

community partners to design, and in one case build, sustainable public education

projects that asked them to link why one acts with how one acts – opening a discus-

sion about the enabling power of architecture. Students employed analytical and design

methods that work from complex urban environments to architectural details, while

understanding intertwined cultural, economic and ecological processes. Within this

broader discussion, each studio produced specific formal proposals communicated

through digital and manual drawings and models. The studio pedagogy sought to pre-

pare students to critically engage social and ethical considerations and to formulate

their own clearly articulated theory for responsible environmental and social action

through design.