20140309

Why Thesis Lab?

Thesis Lab follows a learning-through-making pedagogy that integrates research, critical theory, individual voice, and hands-on collaborative work. Influenced by Bruno Latour’s theories on laboratories, and Jacques Rancières’ theories on education and emancipation the course is developed around the duality of laboratory and exhibition to simultaneously emphasize experimentation (laboratory as process) and dissemination, both towards the architectural discourse and architecture’s multiple publics (exhibition as final outcome). The laboratory includes hands-on experiments, testing of theories, analysis of the results, development of models, and the making of installations, mock-ups or prototypes. The exhibition includes design and presentation of exhibitions, publications, participation in blogs, social media, and other platforms, and engagement with communities and various groups.

To understand user’s participation and engagement in their work, participants have been developing a series of installations and ephemeral spaces to be presented collectively every week in the typical (architectural) crit room B that now transforms to an experimental “white cube” (museum) room. Bringing art and the museum in the architectural studio, Thesis Lab proposes exhibition as a pedagogical tool to experience, experiment, learn, and reflect on a series of concerns.

Thesis Lab balances individual and team work in various formats to occasionally challenge design authorship without eliminating the individual voice. Participants may envision professional scenarios beyond the architectural profession as service. Collective non-hierarchical groups or actions may offer to individual creators the opportunity to instigate interventions: the design and production of their own architectures that improve their surroundings and environments.

Thesis Lab favors an interdisciplinary approach by seeking the other experts (eg. the chemist, the biologist, the psychologist, the technologist, the performer) through individual and group meetings, invited lectures, as well as organized workshops. The interdisciplinary experimentation occurs both at small and big scale. For example some of the projects integrate technological applications (eg. projectors, microcontrollers, sensors, and motors), while being inspired by theories on social media and networks (eg. hacking, digital nomadism, surveillance). 

Part of the research presented in this book[i] builds upon previous educational experiments such as Neoplayformz, an exhibition as an assembly of experiences in which the audience transformed from a spectator, to a (newspaper) reader, to a climber, to a gamer, to a guinea pig through a food experiment. Thesis Lab has been challenging what constitutes an architectural methodology for the last 3-years at WIT.

[i] The text is going to be part of WIT 's upcoming publication with graduate thesis works of 2014.


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