Learning by Drawing: Investigations into Danish Architecture Education

Inger Louise Berling Hyams

Publikation: Bog/antologi/afhandling/rapportPh.d.-afhandling


There has been surprisingly little research into the topic of Danish Architecture Education, and most of the work that has been undertaken has a historic aim of describing in more or less detail the institutions (see for instance Melgaard and Johansen 1904; Millech 1954; Fuchs and Salling 2004; Brandt Poulsen 2015). In an international context, the field of architecture education is also not very systematically or extensively covered; although to a much greater extent than in Danish research (see as examples for instance Joan Ockman (ed) 2013; Perez-Gomez 1984; Salama 2015; Brandt, Cennamo et al 2013; Shaffer 2007). The historically oriented research into architecture education mostly omits questions concerning the creation of architecture and what role drawing plays in the emergence of architectural thinking. As a contrast, this dissertation is chiefly interested in the more practice-oriented aspects of architectural production, partly inspired by work such as Edward Robbins (1994), Dana Cuff (1992) and Albena Yaneva (2012). And so the focus in the dissertation is on the process of making rather than the made work.
It is significant for Danish architecture education that it has remained closely linked with an artistic tradition, and is thus also, to a highly accentuated degree, based largely on visual expression rather than on language. Drawings are therefore vital sources to consider when analyzing Danish architecture education. To develop a deeper analysis and understanding of Danish architecture education I developed an analytic, paradigmatic framework, where I differentiate between the Beaux-Arts- (cf. Harbeson 2008; Lucan 2009; see chapter 2.1), the polytechnic- (cf. Pfammatter 2000; see chapter 2.2) and what I have called the practitioner (cf. Schön 1983; see chapter 2.3) paradigms. Different ontologies, epistemologies, views on creativity and pedagogic activities are linked to these different paradigms through an analytic discussion of their respective origins. This in turn relates to what I call drawing epistemologies – that is how architecture students think and develop their thinking through drawing.
The dissertation is structured in three parts. The three parts reflect three different modes or approaches in the research and each contribute to the investigation in a different way. Part I - Framework: Genealogy of Architecture Education is both a positioning of the dissertation in relation to selected literature in the field of architecture education, and also the establishment of the paradigmatic framework. PART I is intended to be the analytical motor that sets the work in motion and the analysis is therefore used to tease out the following specific research questions:
-How does the Danish architecture school in Copenhagen relate to the paradigms of Beaux-Arts, the polytechnic and the practitioner?
-What evaluation practices and criteria are present, and how are they established?
-How is thinking through the act of drawing taught and how is it carried out by students in the drawing process?

In PART II - Cases: Architecture Education in Copenhagen, the mode of research shifts to case based work and in three chapters I present three different case studies, or probes into the context of architecture education in Copenhagen. The first case presented in Chapter 3 seeks to capture the span of the beginning of the 20th century to present day through a view into three different moments: the beginning of the 20th century, the mid-20th century, and contemporary practice at the Danish Royal Academy of Arts, Architecture School (KADK). Chapter 4 is a study of a cross-section of architecture education in Copenhagen in the last half of the 20th century. Chapter 5 focuses on what I have called the foundations of architecture, and follows the first semester of the KADK bachelor program entitled Taking Place.
In PART III - Reflections: Diagram, Judgements, Paradigms, the mode of research shifts again and the research questions are addressed based on the empirical work and the analytic framework. In Chapter 6 the question of how style, taste and aesthetics play into the evaluation of architectural drawing – particularly in the pin-up situation - which is explored as an instance of Kantian judgments of taste – leads to the development of a multimodal framework for scaffolding evaluations. In Chapter 7, I produce a sketch for how thinking happens through drawing as a mediated form of thinking. In short, I combine parts of Schön’s practice epistemology (Schön 1983) with postphenomenological theory (cf. Ihde 1990) and diagrammatic theory (cf. Stjernfelt 2008, Deleuze 2013 og Zdebik 2012). I argue that the multistability (cf. Ihde 1990; Rosenberger 2016) of a drawing is the source for the back-talk that Schön (1983) holds as paramount for rigorous creative practice. The multistability of architectural drawing is sought and enhanced through the diagrammatic approaches to it.
Unsurprisingly, as will be shown in Chapter 8, the educational practices studied at KADK does not fit squarely into any of the three paradigms. The analysis does, however, present an image of the Danish educational tradition as one that has always been rather independent, but I nonetheless demonstrate how the paradigmatic framework allows for a deeper understanding of the complexities of the tradition. On the background of the dissertation, the conclusion in Chapter 9 aims to establish the argument that a perhaps different type of rationality has been, and remains, dominant in the architecture school.
The primary contribution of the dissertation is to bring forth three theoretical stepping stones (paradigms, drawing epistemologies and a multimodal evaluation model) through analysis, cases and reflections. Each of the stepping-stones are intended to ground further and more directed research within the field. Furthermore, the stepping-stones guide towards further and more comprehensive research that perhaps in the future could amount to a sort of philosophy of science for architectural emergence. A better understanding of practices and approaches in architecture education is a good basis for beginning to understand the complexities of architectural practice, particularly as architecture school has a deep and lasting influence in the becoming of architects. Architects who later are key players in making and reshaping the built environment, we all inhabit.
ForlagRoskilde Universitetsforlag
Antal sider468
StatusUdgivet - 2020
BegivenhedPhD Defence, Inger Berling Hyams: Learning by Drawing: Investigations into Architecture Education - Virtuelt
Varighed: 22 jan. 202122 jan. 2021


AndetPhD Defence, Inger Berling Hyams

Bibliografisk note

The printed version includes 248 pages of appendices omitted here.


  • Architecture Education
  • Drawing
  • Beaux-Arts
  • Polytechnic
  • reflective practice
  • Danish Architecture Education
  • Architecture School
  • Royal Academy of Arts, Copenhagen, Architecture School
  • Gerhardt Poulsen
  • Donald Schön
  • Postphenomenology
  • Diagram
  • Diagrammatic reasoning
  • JNL Durand
  • paradigms
  • Philosophy of science
  • Aesthetics

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