Trans_Arch_Edu wrap-up session

After a wonderful day of debate on current topics surrounding the shifting nature of architectural education, Panel participants again took the podium to interrogate the issues presented throughout the day. 

Gülce Özmen, a member of the CUT|PAPER architectural community, presented the results of an informal survey conducted to collect student feedback on the system of architectural education.


Tuğyan Aytaç Dural led the the session, opening with the question: do we analyze the material enough? Do we really know the skills of the students well enough to define a better design education?


Everyone shared their ideas, criticisms and suggestions and the discussion raised issues of “monolithic” thinking,  the applicability of architectural education, as well as needs for selective admissions standards, and how to identify new knowledge areas for architectural students.

Thanks to the Izmir University of Economics Graduate School of Natural and Applied Sciences for their support and sponsorship of this event.  Thanks also to our guests for the generous gift of their time and ideas, and to everyone for the openness of the debate. Izmir University of Economics Department of Architecture hopes to be an active voice in the debate on and an advocate for improving excellence in architectural education.

Trans_Arch_Edu Panel_02

The afternoon panel got underway with introductions and presentation of the theme of interdisciplinarity by Assoc. Prof. Dr. Osman Demirbaş.


Afterwards, Prof. Dr. Türel Saranlı spoke, sharing his experiences from his enduring career in architectural education. He argued for competency in technical topics but above all creativity of the operator–the architect. On the observation that “information is worthless, knowledge is valuable,” Dr. Saranlı described computer-generated formal explorations as “difficult to explain” for the people producing them. This points to the need for more competency and thoughtful understanding of what is produced in lieu of visually-driven designs produced by computer “operators.” He also noted the need for architects to recognize that technological solutions for architectural problems are being developed every day and that architects and educators must come to terms with such developments and define their place in the university and profession.

Next to address the group was Prof. Dr. Zūhal Õzcan, who provided a detailed summary of her research into architectural education in Turkey. She outlined the distribution of architectural design education among architecture and interior architects programs; state and private universities; and geographic distribution from eastern to western turkey. Following this, Dr. Özcan outlined her comparison of four typical curricula in schools of architecture in Turkey. Similarities between programs were numerous while differences quite few. She encouraged interdisciplinarity through collaboration with the various Chambers of respective professions; and periodically revising curricula to respond to rapidly changing technological environment. 

Prof. Dr. Zūhal Ulusoy discussed interdisciplinarity briefly, and then returned to the theme of the role of design in society. Sharing her observations on design education,  she remarked provocatively: “design motivates people to work for change.” And continued with the observation that changes in the way we live become areas that we adapt to in design education and practice. She also argued for the value of the design studio as an interdisciplinary, interactive space of exchange remarking: “It’s not a solution, of course, but there is probably a very promising aspect that we already have in our education models, but we don’t recognize the capacity–the design studio.”
Asst. Prof. Dr. Thanos Stassinoupolos, arguing that architectural education is too theoretical and not practical enough. He compared a lack of material knowledge with the “blind faith” in what is displayed on the computer screen. According to Dr. Stassinoupolos, form is more than geometric shape. It relies on material and materials interaction with light and natural elements. Advocating “hands-on” construction as a way to convey material knowledge, he also argues that this knowledge is essential to architectural practice. Citing examples of award-winning projects from architectural competitions that present compelling imagery, but demonstrate a lack practical knowledge, he further outlined a dualism in architectural education along the lines of academic/applied, virtual/real space, mind/sense, today/future.


Following the presentations, the discussion addressed 

  • the suspicious “priviledging” of the architectural discipline in discussions about interdisciplinarity
  • Production of knowledge and its relationship to architectural production
  • The value of applied project workshops with students


TRANS_ARCH_EDU began today with welcoming words from Dean Prof. Dr. Ender Bulgun Yazgan and Asst. Prof. Dr. Bahar Durmaz Drinkwater. Both celebrated the 10th anniversary of the founding of the department of architecture.  


Panel_01,  moderated by Asst. Prof. Dr. Güzden Varinlioğlu,  began with e presentation by Prof. Dr. Gülsüm Baydar. Professor Baydar traced the development of the complex relationship between criticism, meaning, and architecture since the 1980s, concluding with the assertion that Architecture—despite its changing technological, cultural, or political contexts that temper its production—remains a primarily social endeavor.


Gudjon Erlendsson followed Dr. Baydar with a synopsis of systems theory’s integration into architectural design through parametric design tools, building information modeling, and algorithmic problematization. He sees these developments as a serious challenge to the shortcomings of Modernist ideology and a new paradigm for both architectural production and education.


Dr. Sema Alaçam followed up with a presentation outlining the relationships between “haptic experiences” and the environment. She criticized typical digital interactions for their limited sensory engagement by emphasizing the role of “body schema” in perception. This presumed lack leads to experiments in interaction design and spatial analysis, which emphasize the influence of the body on thinking and illustrate how gesture plays a crucial role in communicating spatial ideas.


Finally Marc Grellart presented a wife sampling of recent work in the area of virtual reconstruction of significant sites, their context, and construction methods. He asserted the impact of these techniques, not only to improve access to sites and to visualize them as fully reconstructed, but also to engage deeper cultural issues in terms of how these monuments produce meaning. With virtual reconstruction, a new range of architectural study becomes possible as researchers can study variations, phases of building, create simulations, engage an audienc

After these thought-provoking presentations a lively and stimulating debate ensued. Topics discussed included:

  • the relationship of education and practice
  • Modernism and its ideological underpinnings
  • The production of meaning in architecture and its abandonment in favor of technique.


Panel on the Transformation of Architectural Education

In the 10th year anniversary of the Department of Architecture at the Izmir University of Economics, this panel aims to provide a shared platform for exploring approaches to address new directions in architectural education. The participants are asked to focus on the acute issues at the intersection of two thematic sessions, one being concerned with emerging computational design approaches, and the other with interdisciplinary frameworks in architectural education. The panel is dedicated to fostering a constructive dialogue between leading academics and practitioners concerned with ideas that will take architectural education forward.

Theme 1: The Role of Computational Design in Architecture

Advances in digital computing not only challenge traditional ways of conceptualizing buildings but also impact on the nature of the relationship between design, construction, and habitation. The theme however requires further elaboration and the participants are asked to consider the role of computational design within a framework that links emerging practices in the profession with the relevant strategies adopted in architectural education. The guiding questions that are posed within this session are;

  1. How do advances in digital computation shape the approaches to architectural education?
  2. How does the academic community react to the developments in design computing?
  3. What are the concerns about computational design within both practice based and academic communities?

Theme 2: Interdisciplinary Strategies in Architectural Education

Social, political, economical and environmental demands challenge the architect to rethink traditional strategies of organising and producing architecture. Therefore architectural education needs to address new teaching methodologies which broaden the understanding of, and prepare the architect for interdisciplinary design processes.

  1. What are the goals and potentials of interdisciplinary strategies?
  2. How are interdisciplinary strategies organised?
  3. How do innovative interdisciplinary strategies lead to better architectural environments?

This panel aims at discussing values, goals and organisations of current interdisciplinary strategies, both in architectural education and professional design processes.


28 April 2015, Tuesday

Welcoming guests

20.00-22.00 Dinner


29 April 2015, Wednesday

10.00 Opening  by Ender Bulgun (Prof. Dr.)

10.15 Introduction by Bahar Durmaz (Asst. Prof. Dr.)

10.30 – 12.30 Theme 1: Role of Computational Design in Architecture

Moderator: Güzden Varinlioğlu (Asst. Prof. Dr., Architecture, Izmir University of Economics)


Gülsüm Baydar (Prof. Dr., Architecture, Yasar University)

Sema Alaçam (Asst. Prof. Dr, , Computation in Architectural Design, ITU)

Marc Grellert (Ph.D, Architectura Virtualis & Technische Universitat Darmstadt)

Gudjon Thor Erlendsson (Architecture, Izmir University of Economics)

12.30-13.30 Lunch


13.30 – 15.30 Theme 2: Interdisciplinary Strategies in Architectural Education

Moderator:  Osman Demirbaş (Assoc. Prof. Dr., Interior Architecture and Environmental Design, Izmir University of Economics)


Türel Saranlı (Architecture, METU)

Zuhal Özcan (Prof. Dr., Interior Architecture and Environmental Design, Atilim University)

Zuhal Ulusoy (Prof. Dr., Art and Design, Kadir Has University)

Thanos N. Stasinopoulos (Ph.D, Architecture, Izmir University of Economics)

15.30-16.00 Coffee Break

16.00-17.30 Summary and Concluding Discussions: Challenges for the Future

Moderator: Tuğyan Aytaç Dural (Asst. Prof. Dr., Interior Architecture and Environmental Design, Izmir University of Economics)

18.00-20.00 Cocktail & Screening

30 April 2015, Thursday

Workshop by Sema Alacam for FFD101

Guest Instructor Turel Saranli to FFD102

The Panel_03 on “Summary and Concluding Discussions: Challenges for the Future” will be moderated by Assist. Prof. Dr. Tugyan Aytac Dural.

Guzden Varinlioglu's photo.

Born in İstanbul in 1959. Graduated from TED Ankara Collage in 1977. Studied architecture in the Department of Architecture in Middle East Technical University. She received her M.Arch degree and PhD at the same faculty. Her PhD Thesis “THEATRE-ARCHITECTURE-EDUCATION: theatre as a paradigm for introductory architectural design education” (2002), and the book “Basic Design/Basic Education” (1998) that she edited (co-editor: Teymur, N.), were both published by METU Faculty of Architecture Publications. After working for 21 years, she retired from METU Faculty of Architecture and worked in the Department of Interior Architecture and Environmental Design at Başkent University for three and a half years. She had been a visiting instructor in the Department of Architecture at Politechnico di Bari, Italy (2002-2003).

Her major field of research and practice is Beginning Design Education and she has been teaching in the first year design studio since 1985. She studies the significance of basic design principles for different branches of art including cinema, performance arts and literature. She presented number of papers that were published in the proceedings of the national and international congresses. She is recently working as the coordinator of the ‘Art and Design Studio’ for all the departments of Faculty of Arts and Design in İzmir University of Economics.

Panel_02 on “Interdisciplinary Strategies in Architectural Education” will be moderated by Assoc. Prof. Dr. Osman Demirbas.

Guzden Varinlioglu's photo.

After graduating from the Department of Interior Architecture and Environmental Design, Dr. Demirbaş studied the effects of environmental psychology factors in the design studio setting for the Master’s study. During the PhD, he studied the process of design education through Experiential Learning Theory (ELT) of Kolb and the effects of learning styles in design education. Dr. Demirbaş is still teaching at the Faculty of Fine Arts and Design and he is the Director of The Graduate School of Social Sciences at Izmir University of Economics. He worked as an an Executive Board Member of the International Federation of Interior Architects and Designers (IFI) between 2011-2014. He has published several academic papers in different international journals such as Learning and Instruction, Design Studies, Journal of Environmental Psychology and METU Journal of Architecture and has been continuing his research on ELT, learning styles, cognitive styles, teaching/learning processes in design, design/architecture education, design history and semiotics.


Architecture has always been a transformation of materials into human shelters in various types of natural and social space. The fast invasion of computers during the last 20-30 years has generated a virtual kind of space with its own virtual architecture. The novel digital tools offer great possibilities in architectural practice, both in the design and production of buildings, transforming radically the way architects work and create.

They also transform architectural education, as the architecture curriculum is being rapidly de-materialized, with digital-based courses displacing conventional ones. In the current enthusiasm about digital design, a leading emphasis is given to the geometric aspects of buildings as virtual objects, with anaemic coverage of their spatial materiality and the dynamics of time.

As a direct witness of architectural education for over three decades, I can identify certain tendencies among average students:- a gradual diminishing of their ’analogue’ skills, with weakening 3-D imagination (not to mention 4-D) and manual dexterities;- a growing dependence, confidence, and even addiction on digital tools and methods that substitute initiatives and inventiveness;- a decline in their comprehension of physical necessities that are inescapably linked to design, construction, and operation of buildings –an unfortunate development that coincides with a flood of building products and techniques;- an ‘incubator-like’ perception of how built environment works, with weak understanding of natural systems and processes.
A promising development is that such negative trends are somehow balanced by students’ own sensing of deficiencies in their education, which make them eager to get involved in hands-on events where computers take a back seat. That is a hint –among others- to the need for re-instating ‘architectural materialism’ in the curriculum by means of core courses and parallel events that address the multiple physical aspects of architecture tectonics, ultimately enriching the geometric and theoretical considerations that currently govern the design studio.

29 April Wednesday, 15:00
İzmir University of Economics, Faculty of Fine Arts and Design

Guzden Varinlioglu's photo.

Thanos graduated from National Technical University of Athens School of Architecture in 1975. He received his Graduate Diploma from Architectural Association Energy Course in 1986, and his PhD from NTUA in 1999. His long academic career at various schools of architecture has primarily been focusing on sustainable design, which has also been implemented in his private architectural practice. His expertise on building construction is accompanied by extensive academic and professional work on applied geometry, CAD, interior design and visual arts.


29 April Wednesday, 13:30
İzmir University of Economics, Faculty of Fine Arts and Design

Guzden Varinlioglu's photo.

Türel Saranlı, a professor of professors, is an architect and a lecturer at Middle East Technical University (METU) in Ankara. He received his B.ARCH from METU in 1962 and M.ARCH from Pratt Institute in 1964. Since 1970, he has been leading basic design and professional practice classes at METU. He has completed numerous national and international projects as an architect and as a consultant.