Global Cultures and Architecture Education: The Case of the India Initiative

  • Phoebe Crisman University of Virginia
Keywords: culture, education, India, sustainability, dislocation


How is architectural education enriched by the seemingly peripheral voices of diverse globalcultures? How does the process of creating design propositions within unfamiliar cultures and sites unknown encourage students to question their own assumptions and methods? In order to explore these questions, a research project methodology was created to shift the normative architecture studio pedagogical structure, content and location to specifically examine transformations in student learning. Several theoretical concepts support this work, including spatial dislocation, experiential learning and the bodily senses, reflection, and constructed knowledge. University of Virginia Professors Phoebe Crisman and Peter Waldman establishedthe India Initiative as an interdisciplinary research and teaching program to study environments constructedby the diverse cultures of India and develop sustainable strategies for future development. A complex mix of religions, ethnicities, languages, geographies, arts and architecture, India is a crucial location for the contemporary study of architecture and urban sustainability. India is the world's largest democracy with a burgeoning population experiencing massive rural to urban migration and growing economic disparity. Widespread environmental degradation and natural resource depletion plague the country. Nevertheless,there is much to be learned from a close study of effective practices that have emerged from a combination of necessity and ingenuity in the Indian built environment. Each year of the five-year study will focus on one of Hindu elements or panchabhuta: earth, water, air, fire and ether. From the enduring village to the emergent megacity, and across scales from city to the architectural detail, the research seeks a deep and synthetic understanding of sustainable approaches to infrastructure systems, landscapes and architecture. The long-term research goal is a study of the intertwined aspects of environmental design and social equity. This paper formulates findings from the first year of the India Initiative.
How to Cite
Crisman, P. (2013). Global Cultures and Architecture Education: The Case of the India Initiative. ARCC Conference Repository.
Peer-reviewed Papers