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As the focus of environmental engineering increasingly shifts to landscape-based, decentralized solutions to energy and water; and as architecture increasingly shifts its attention to resilience, ecological connectivity and independence from centralized infrastructure, these two disciplines find themselves closer in scale than before. This paper presents a collaborative project between upper level architecture and environmental engineering students focused on the design of sustainable and integrated water systems. Critical features of transdisciplinarity included: the engagement of stakeholders in the process at multiple moments; the speculative nature of working on very distant futures, the multi-scalar requirements of the collaboration, and the expectation of balancing quantitative and qualitative performance criteria. The curriculum was successful by many measures of work quality and impact. Students reflected on expectations and outcomes at two points of the semester, providing insights on challenges and opportunities. Relying on a shared responsibility for the project and well-aligned touchpoints, rather than daily- integrated studio-format, overcomes administrative constraints, but made misalignments more evident. While initially students had higher expectations of learning about the other discipline’s role than about their own, later results clearly show many more thought they had learned more about their own discipline, and expressed more confidence on their joint work. This is an encouraging finding about the power of transdisciplinary educational experiences.
Laboy, Michelle and Onnis-Hayden, Annalisa
"Bridging the Gap between Architecture and Engineering: a Transdisciplinary Model for a Resilient Built Environment,"
Building Technology Educator's Society: Vol. 2019
Caryn Brause, Peggi L. Clouston, Naomi Darling (Eds.), Amherst, MA, 2019. https://doi.org/10.7275/mr5p-8x02
Available at: https://scholarworks.umass.edu/btes/vol2019/iss1/38