Tackling gaps and mismatches in the field of higher education for architecture and urban planning while exploring and addressing discontinuities along the national borders in-between Romania, Hungary and Serbia

The creation of these resources has been (partially) funded by the ERASMUS+ grant program of the European Union under grant no. 2019-1-RO01-KA203-063881. Neither the European Commission nor the project’s national funding agency ANPCDEFP are responsible for the content or liable for any losses or damage resulting of the use of these resources.

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Outputs

O1 - Defining the pedagogical fields that fundament the partners approach towards a new educational program.

Mod 1. CRITICAL THINKING IN ARCHITECTURE

Is the first in a system of three pedagogical areas that we consider necessary in order to approach the problem statement of the project - the need to understand and redefine a multinational cultural area alongside the borders between RO, HU, RS. Mod.1 refers to the need for learners (future young professionals) to overcome their role of simple service providers for public or private enterprises and more frequently take on the role of active critical thinkers that formulate problems and help initiate projects along side authorities or private bodies.

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Within Mod.1 the need for discussing architecture will take on the form of a new discipline, focused on architectural debates. This activity will be further expanded by the participation of other professions in the project, that will bring different visions to the table. In this way architectural theory and especially the tradition of conceiving fully developed human habitats will be confronted, developed and apprehended by learners in direct connection to the lessons and visions developed in social geography, sociology and anthropology. By introducing this module as the base of the learning program, we take a clear stance towards education as a tool for preparing generalist independent thinkers that can more productively and successfully engage the digital information flood and available technical resources, that are more likely to sustain a lifelong preoccupation for learning and constantly assessing their impact as thinkers and professionals and members of society.

Mod 2. EXPLORATION

Responds to the need for students to understand the research area in-depth before acting upon it and is focused on tools for exploring, understanding and describing conditions in the territory. Partners understand that each profession has areas of interest or, metaphorically speaking, certain visibility filters through which only certain phenomena can be observed. Partners will work together in order to understand the different nature of these filters, specific biases of each field and possible complementary situations. It is expected that architecture will provide tools for understanding the physical structure of a territory, community, settlement; anthropology will provide
tools for qualitative understanding and geography tools for quantitative understanding of an area.
The technology that will be used to manage data and create complex analysis is known as Geographic Information System (GIS). GIS allows for any amount or type of information to be linked to a spatial coordinate, on a map opening the way to complex analysis with both quantitative and qualitative data.

Mod 3. IMPLEMENTATION

Will be centered on design and on the possibility for students to implement their designs. In this sense, the project and future curriculum will foster the idea of a professional launchpad for students. Beyond the actual design discipline, the module will also bring into focus
knowledge, skills and tools required to implement projects such as framing a coherent communication of the problem, solution presentation, negotiation practices, project management (including finance) and others that will be decided in due course.

O2 - Curriculum for a master program in Architecture

The deliverable will be a text describing all the aspects of a curriculum starting from the needs it responds to, model of professional, educational objectives, the relation to higher education systems in the participating countries, theoretical fundamentals, the structure of the semesters, courses, seminars and other activities to be performed, explanation of the overall dynamics of the learning experience and learning curve and expected result for both learners and tutors. The curriculum is organised into 4 semesters. A draft structure has been agreed with all the partner organisations.
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O2 will be an important document for the academic community as it will contain objective information and analysis regarding the national accreditation systems in the area and it will be a useful theoretical reference document to any institution or person that wishes to undertake the same initiative, a comparison landmark that future educators will be able to use, evaluate or build on. As it will be disseminated in printed and digital form, will also serve faculty administrators and deans as a model for institutional transformation, it will provide useful data, concepts and perspectives on the future of our higher education systems, it will bring its own contribution to the ecosystem of writings about architectural education. This will be particularly useful in the case of Romania as writings about higher education for architects are scarce and rarely come in forms larger than the occasional magazine article.

The biggest impact will be related to the commitment of the group, supported by the faculty to implement the curriculum in the participating institutions once the strategic partnership program will have ended. If implemented, the new curriculum will promote an emerging professional model that has existed in the market for some time but has remained without an answer and acknowledgement form the academic community – the proactive architect, problem communicator, initiators of projects acting on behalf of the local communities.

O3 - DIGITAL PUBLICATION

O3 will be a digital publication. The information on the web site will also be available in a printed book. In order to produce the publication and content partners will work to adapt the information in O1 and O2 and make it suitable for this type of medium - more concise, easy to apprehend, offering a pleasant experience for the reader from start to end. The publication will contain the information and resources developed within the three pedagogical modules organised in theoretical fundamentals, course content, exercises and tool and case studies. We will take advantage of the flexibility offered by the digital environment to introduce multimedia presentation that will combine text, video and hyperlinking in order to make the information comprehensive and easy to understand and use.
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Making an online publication will also allow us to provide readers with access to raw data collected during the workshops, image and video database, with all the resources open for use and download, and other types of documents and useful information that would be otherwise impossible to reach a larger audience. As the two intensive learning programs will result in concrete project proposals for the research area, the publication will contain all analysis and design projects developed during the program, to be freely consulted by administrators, public officials, members of communities or any other persons that might be interested in the topic.

Furthermore the web-publication will include an incipient publishing platform that authors writing on the subject of education for architecture will be able to use, in order to disseminate their work. This platform will be functional by the beginning of the first C1(Jul 2020) and it will be used to promote the project as it unfolds and evolves. After the project ends, the project team will continue to develop it with the objective of creating a fully developed publication platform for higher architectural education of the ex-communist states of Europe. This will further stimulating the local culture of collaboration in higher education and dialogue between countries with a similar background and issues that are not sufficiently aware of each other.

Part of the development of O3 will also be the visual identity of the project. Graphic design elements required for the book will also be employed in the project, during internal events or multiplier events and any other multiplication and dissemination action in the project. In this way the communication between the project and its public will be sustained by consequential visual elements.
The web publication will be a resource that participants in the project will be able to use in their teaching activities inside their respective institutions. Thus the web-book will increase the mobility of knowledge and the impact of the project. The web book will also be available in printed form – a more synthetic version that will only include the essential information regarding the project.

LTT ACTIVITIES

Both intensive learning programs (or summer schools) are thought as nodes, high density and high resolution key points in the overall program. They are built on the results of the preparation period / modules that precede them and in the same time set / calibrate the frame for the following activities to be developed.
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The activities in the two summer-schools are connected as part of one process, and undertaken by the same team of learners, which grants them continuity.

Following the way the structure of the transnational meetings and pedagogical modules is traced, the summer-schools conclude and test the previous achievements, thus the first concentrates on theory and analysis, while the second, starting from the results of the first one and developing them, focuses on design issues and project implementation strategies.

The same study area has been defined for the two summer-schools, in the region between the three borderlines, focusing on small cities, chosen from each neighbouring country, Kikinda, Jimbolia. Sannicolau Mare and Mako, and the area between them. First  summer-school will be hosted by the city of Jimbolia, while the second one by the city of Kikinda. However, in both cases, around one third of the total time is dedicated to physically exploring the whole territory. It is considered crucial that both phases, theory and analysis on one hand, and design and implementation on the other hand, are performed and tested directly in the territory – seen as a most valuable resource to be first of all understood and only then, if necessary, shaped.

Territory, through field research and on-foot exploration becomes the focus point in both phases, constituting the opportunity to test and exercise the exploration methods and critical thinking concepts that are delivered in the theoretical modules. The conclusions and ideas that emerge are then overlapped and tested again, in the same environment that generated them. Final presentations, that overlap with two of the multiplier events, are planned where the workshops take place (Jimbolia and Kikinda), at the end of the 2 periods, aiming to attract all local relevant actors for feed-back, along with the list of guests that every partner is tracing.

Arguments above speak for the decision to locate both intensive programs in a location different than the one in which the responsible partner is located. It needs to be underlined that the structure of the Intensive Programs works is complementary and in soft opposition to what usual architecture project processes are thought as, defining an alternative standing point.

While in architecture studios the focus, in terms of allocated time and interest – around 80% – is on the proposal, which means building something, the aim for this program is to soften this proportion allowing the possibility to develop new skills and methods for the exploration and analysis phase. In consequence, the focus point and main time investment is set on gathering and interpreting information and consolidating a theoretical foundation. The design process is thought of as a consequence rather than a starting point.

On the other hand, both summer-schools aim to develop skills in communication and implementation, so another focus, in both phases, will be placed on the way questions, conclusions and possible solutions can be communicated to the local community and the relevant actors. It is considered important that the conclusions of both exploration and design processes are “returned” to the community, generating a flow of information, knowledge and feed-back that can shape a sharp result to the whole process. In order for these purposes to be fulfilled, the partners from the fields of architecture, urban sociology, anthropology, geography and journalism will work closely to develop new skills in prospecting methods, data interpretation, design, communication and implementation strategies.

In conclusion, the two intensive programs carry most of the ingredients in common:

– they take place in the same physical territory that becomes the primary focus of the learning process;

– both work with the same team of learners from different professions and rely on developing and learning analysis and interpretation methods and skills

– are based on an input of theoretical foundations that encourages critical thinking and debate, prior to decision making

– work closely with the communities that they study both in the data collection and in returning the conclusions, generating a process of continuous feed-back

– develop skills in communication and implementation strategies, thus fulfilling the whole process, from raw data collection, through design, up to project implementation

The differences in the two intensive programs naturally emerge from their position in time and in their overall structure and objectives and are defined in the description of each of the two.

SUMMERSCHOOL 1

Duration and period of the summer-school: 14 days, july 2020
Participants: 28 participants and 21 accompanying persons
Venue: Jimbolia as base-camp, locations for accommodation, workshop activities and final presentation event to be negotiated with the local administration
Studied territory: Jimbolia, Kikinda, Mako and the area in between
Leading organisation*: Universitatea Politehnica Timisoara through FAUT
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* As explained in the general description of the summer-schools, the activities do not take place in  the city of the leading organisation, thus the budget implies different costs.
Structure and calendar:
There are 3 main modules, an opening preparatory module and a final event for dissemination and feed-back. The opening module gives the participants the support information that has been prepared prior to the beginning of the summer school (historical data, regional and local plans, strategies and legal frames, existing statistical data) and briefs them on links to similar practices that have been identified as possible references.
The 3 main modules are: theoretical base, field research and analysis, debate seminars and preliminary conclusions.
The theory module sets up the basis for the field research module with lectures and seminars on the history of the area, urban anthropology, urban sociology, field investigation methods, digital tools for data collection.
The field research module tests and applies the knowledge and methods presented in the first module, on the physical territory, both small and medium scale with focus on Jimbolia, as well as in the larger area around the border meeting point, including Kikinda, Mako, Sannicolau Mare.
The third main module works with the collected data and focuses on interpreting it and formulating the results.
The final event, that overlaps with the first multiplier event, presents the results of the summer-school to both local actors and the external guests, aiming to generate feed-back for the following phases of the program.
The total duration of the summer-school is 14 days. One day is free, two are reserved for the opening and the final event, 4 days are thought for field research, 4 for the first main module and 3 for the 3rd main module.

The structure of the summer-school is subject to the prior transnational meetings, thus it can change its shape in detail, according to the evolution of the discussions and the input from all partners involved.

SUMMERSCHOOL 2

Duration and period of the summer-school: 14 days, July 2021
Participants: 28 participants and 21 accompanying persons
Venue: Kikinda as base-camp, locations for accommodation, workshop activities and final presentation event to be negotiated with the local administration
Studied territory: Jimbolia, Kikinda, Mako, Sannicolau Mare and the area in between
Leading organisation*: Univerzited U Novom Sadu
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* As argumented in the general description of the summer-schools, the activities do not take place in the city of the leading organisation, thus the budget implies different costs.
Structure and calendar:
There are 2 main modules, an opening preparatory module and a final event for dissemination and feed-back. The opening module briefs the participants on the evolution of the program and puts in discussion a selection of student projects that have been developed on the study area in the academic year 2020-2021. The two main modules mirror modules M2 and M3 and use the bases of M1, as described in “intellectual outputs”. The summer-school focuses, in the first main module on exploration of the territory, tracing the frame for the second main module, that works on design and implementation of ideas and strategies.
The final event, that overlaps with the second multiplier event, presents the results of the summerschool to both local actors and the external guests, aiming to generate feed-back for the following phases of the program. Both main modules are combined with theoretical support and debate seminars, at the end of each day.
The total duration of the summer-school is 14 days. One day is free, two are reserved for the opening and the final event, 4 days are thought for exploration, and 7 days for design and implementation. The structure of the summer-school is subject to the prior transnational meetings, thus it can change its shape in detail, according to the evolution of the discussions and the input from all partners involved.

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