The Physical Layouts of Design Studios: Analysis and Evaluation

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Saudi Digital Library
The design studio environment is an essential element in the process of design education, which focuses on "learning-by-doing". Students spend most of their time in such studios, in order to cquire knowledge and exchange experiences by communicating with instructors and peers. In sum, it is a place where the academic message is combined with social and cultural phenomena. But whereas some universities do their best to equip the design studios with the latest and most expensive equipment, to achieve a successful design studio culture, not all the students are not satisfied or comfortable within those learning environments—because they don’t meet physical, social and psychological, or environmental needs. When the interior design students of the College of Design at Imam Abdulrahman Bin Faisal University were asked about their preferred places to work, although some students chose the design studios, most of them mentioned other places like brainstorming rooms, interactive rooms, classrooms, and so on, because their needs are better met in those other places. Accordingly, to ensure that the students feel a sense of integration and belongingness with their surrounding environment, and to achieve a welldesigned environment that can meet their educational, social, and other needs, it is important for the designers to understand how the studios environment affects its users. The literature review covered several areas relevant to this study. Firstly, it discussed the new attempts by institutions of higher education to find the links between the pedagogy, space and technology, as well as so-called New Generation Learning Spaces (NGLS). Secondly, it reviewed studies of pedagogy that seek to clarify the practices, most commonly used theories/philosophies in design education, and how the setting of learning environment should be designed accordingly. Thirdly, the literature reviewed discussed research on space with its three main pillars; design considerations, social and psychological considerations, and environmental considerations. The fourth part of the review covers work on technology that clarifies what sort of hardware should be provided in the design studio to facilitate the learning process. Finally, the review covered ideas about the design studio culture, with its positive and negative aspects The evaluation of the design studios’ physical components was done by using those multiple investigative tools, including observation of how the students behave in their design studios, with a view to understanding the relevant design, social and psychological, and environmental considerations; a questionnaire that developed from the literature review; a map-based orkshop that was used to gather qualitative data from the participants; and finally, a focus-group interview design to gather, through informal discussion, students’ needs. The study concluded that problems bearing on design considerations, social and psychological considerations, and environmental considerations are a major reason why students leave the design studio to work elsewhere, in search of a place that can better meet their needs. The study concludes with some recommendations that aim to reduce those problems and increase the student’s sense of connection to the workplace—and hence her academic performance. In sum, the study identifies the positive outcomes that can expected if the new design studio is restructured as a life space.