Dell'Aira FAM

The journey to the project. Participatory teaching methods.

Paola Veronica Dell’Aira broadcasts, through her book, The "Test Bench". Experiences of participatory teaching, an engaging, innovative, ambitious and pressing teaching method experimented and tested in the first year of the Bachelor's Degree in Architecture Sciences, at the Sapienza University of Rome, among the AA. 2012-2013 and 2017-2018.A real miscellany of practical and theoretical exercises carried out by students according to a structured program of thematic activities, aimed at the construction "step by step" of the imaginary complex that a student in the first year of architecture must learn to handle, implement and govern in order last of the project. The written word, images and drawings are taken as the main construction tools of the aforementioned imaginary in the making. Reading the index alone projects within a highly humanistic dimension, as if to claim the belonging of architecture to this disciplinary sphere. It immediately translates the ideal approach to teaching by the author of the book: teaching the first year student the pleasure of the profession of the architect who expands well beyond working hours and invades leisure time intended as a profitable space for cultivate curiosity towards the thousand facets of disciplinary knowledge that governs the profession. The student in the first year of architecture, aware of the courageous mission he is about to undertake, is pushed to become "lector in fabula", that is, an active subject in the teaching work on which his learning will depend. Paola Veronica Dell’Aira, sets her course including a module of Reading Elements of the Urban Landscape and a design laboratory on the theme of the house applied to the practice of urban regeneration, as a sort of "Gaming Simulation". The ultimate goal is the design of 3 residential buildings within 3 pre-existing urban voids in a part of Roman fabric and resulting from the bombings of the Second World War. The student is "hired" as an intern within a design studio (the didactic laboratory) organized in work teams in turn coordinated by the "team leader". In this simulation, the student is called to carry out different periodic "orders" concretized in practical exercises useful for the examination of the project theme according to cultural, theoretical, morphological, typological, social and urban, spatial, technical, material, detail aspects . The student / intern is placed at the center of a pan-opal transcal view with respect to the theme; from the spoon to the city and vice versa. A method set almost according to the diagram of the didactic structure of Walter Gropius for his Bauhaus (imm.1), from which shines through the rationality of the technical thinking of the school formed, however, through a varied type of activity that the student practiced in a species of "total theater" of architecture. This total theater of learning, according to what transpires from reading, is the set of real experiences that inevitably influence the work of the architect: the history of architecture and architectural criticism that hands down the thinking and poetics of the protagonists; the design references that feed awareness on how to act with respect to the various contexts; travel as a discovery and field knowledge of contemporary urban facts as sediments of an eternal past; the world of communication and the representation of the project in its various denotations; current social trends expressed through tastes, habits and customs with respect to the world of arts, sciences and dynamics that regulate cultural self-learning; books as best friends of the "architect as intellectual" . The author assumes all of this as a teaching tool and entrusts it to the criticism and interpretation of the student, prompted, from time to time, by food for thought that feeds dialectical relationships between teacher and learner.The exercises entrusted to the students are organized with respect to different objectives: - to solicit the student's interest in the various side events related to teaching such as exhibitions, conferences, film and documentary screenings, editorial presentations, seminars and lessons. Students were invited to participate in a list of initiatives selected by the teacher and to write a review in compliance with editorial rules imposed. - Reflect on the essence of things, the real reason for the project and the design choices. By sending emails containing food for thought, the teacher brings to the attention of the student 3 different topics for which particular questions are asked, the solution of which requires an advanced interpretative and critical process by the student himself. - Approaching the project without symptomatic personal ambitions of the possessive adjective "mine" which often accompanies the author's explanation of the project itself. Instrumental to the exercise are Michelucci's thoughts on the concept of "hidden hand"; the relationship between Adalberto Libera and Curzio Malaparte, an authoritative prince to whom Libera had to submit to the point of being dissolved from the position of designer of the famous villa Malaparte in the curatorial phase of the interior; the right of the house dweller to shape it according to their habits and comforts, well expressed by the exhibition "The inhabited house. Ricci and Savioli Projects“ and from the photos of daily life inside the House of Dahlewitz, Berlin, by Bruno Tout. - To fix in the mind the founding principles of the architect's job through the review of three key texts with respect to the objective of the course, including the writing by L.C., The "real" only reason for architecture in Domus 118; Siza A., Building a house in De Llano, Castanheira C., Alvaro Siza. Works and projects, Electa, Milan, 1990; Loos A., Rules for building in the mountains in Loos A., Words in a vacuum, Adelphi, Milan, 1990. - Advance your own interpretation with respect to a particular design practice. In this specific case, the theme of conservative restoration of the ancient centers has been adopted, applied to the recovery project of the Mother Church and Piazza Alicia in Salemi by Alvaro Siza. The student was invited to formulate a principle on the type of reasoning that supports the modern and contemporary project often bound by particular contextual protection conditions.Communicate the project effectively and precisely by taking case studies to be described with words and images in the "PechaKucha" format, ie short lessons carried out through the use of 20 slides lasting 20 seconds each. - Get familiar with spatial models associated with the type of residence. The Raumplan of Loos, the Zwischenraum of Scharoun, the Promenade Architecturale and the Open Plan of Le Corbusier. From these models the student learns the importance of the planimetric composition as a space generator and of the elevations as a project parallel to the plan. The section is a project in the project and the prospect is the manifestation of the two-dimensional space as demonstrated by the Roman case studies of the Il Girasole building by Luigi Moretti, the Palazzina in L.go Spinelli by Ugo Luccichenti, the Palazzina in via Magna Grecia by Angelo Di Castro, the Palazzina Rea of Mario Ridolfi and Wolfgang Frankl and the Palazzina in via Archimede of Ugo Luccichenti. - Understand the importance of teamwork through which we share ideas and points of view that mature and consolidate design awareness. The teaching method described in the Test Bench implies a specific desire on the part of the author; that of being able to transmit the love for architecture to those who choose to undertake it and start from the first year of university a process that tends to train not an architect, but an intellectual capable of reasoning, asking questions, constantly confronting each other , exchange knowledge, find the answer, reinterpret the story, imagine and synthesize your own mental kaleidoscope in the project. The choice not to publish, even if only by way of example, the students' projects as a practical demonstration of the application of the teaching method, perhaps represents the author's precise desire to privilege the journey towards one of the many possible solutions that the project he himself is called to give, compared to a practical, real question, here and today, for the contemporary city.

Paolo Strina

Author: Paola Veronica Dell'Aira
Title: Il “Banco di prova”. 
Subtitle: Esperienze di didattica partecipata
Language: italiano
Series: Passo per Passo. Percorsi di apprendimento in architettura
Publisher: Aracne
Characteristics:  15x21 cm, paperbacks, b/w, colors
ISBN: 9788825516814
Year: 2018


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