September 2020

This year, many students may not have much sense of the start of a new term. Yet with the summer break over, Japanese universities have gone back for their second semester, while a fresh school year has begun in the United States and Europe. Some classes are being offered person-to-person, but a large number will be delivered online. Remote teaching raises many concerns about education, so we would like to take the opportunity of this newsletter to share some impressions we have gained from teaching architecture online over the past six months.

Kaz Yoneda, principal of Bureau 0–1, will begin lecturing at four universities this month, having already taught at several in the previous term. He has had to make some drastic changes.

Architecture classes are mainly based on studio work, with students bringing drawings and models to use in presentations, and instructors providing feedback. Online, this cannot be done. Attention has therefore changed to the angles at which models should be photographed, while computer-rendering of 3D models has also gained importance.

It is difficult to assess whether these changes benefit students or not. The situation is no different for professional architects either, where the same fear of viral infection has sent client presentations and briefing online, and similarly raised the significance of photographing and rendering models. This is a brand-new challenge for professionals. It can only be tackled by trial and error. Students receiving classes online may come up with novel and better methods too. If that occurs, then the traditional way in which architects work could actually suddenly become obsolete.

Kaz says,“If classes had not gone online, I might not have been able to teach at four separate universities concurrently.” Adjunct lecturers have always found the time commitment of travelling gets in the way of their dedication to work. So the results might be positive, with students able to enjoy higher-level instruction, and tutors being liberated from excessive commutes.

Still, quite a few students suffer from classes being online, though this is can be partly a matter of organization. With a proper system in place, you can even attend lectures held overseas, and join databases internationally. Foreign professors can be invited more easily, and
overseas study can be experienced in simplified form.

What shape will future education take? With physical and temporal networks ever more available, one premonition is the arrival of an era in which anyone can access teaching at the top level. It should become possible for every student to gain education and knowledge previously reserved for the privileged. Competition will be serious, but in the same way, collaboration and cooperation will become even more important. We might also be able to evade the divisions of previous generations, with their “academic cliques” and unproductive factions between “sciences” and “humanities” within schools.

If lectures come back into the classroom, we must not lose the knowledge we have derived from online teaching. It is sometimes said that the current world’s fundamental controlling principle is division. Well, on the contrary, the experiences that Covid-19 have forced on us — transcending social distancing and being kept at home — may actually have provided new possibilities for an altogether different kind of mutual inter-connection.

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Imperfect Manifesto from an Imperfect City. Practice as a working prototype for a theory towards new architecture and urbanism, from Tokyo to the World.

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Bureau 0–1

Bureau 0–1

Imperfect Manifesto from an Imperfect City. Practice as a working prototype for a theory towards new architecture and urbanism, from Tokyo to the World.

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