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Teaching strategies for linking knowledge acquisition and application in the architectural design studio

Mahmoud Reza Saghafi (Department of Architecture, Isfahan University of Art, Esfahan, Iran) (School of Design, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia)


ISSN: 2631-6862

Article publication date: 17 August 2020

Issue publication date: 23 June 2021




In the context of architecture education, design studio projects usually start with “research” on the design theme and the context, but often there is no strong link between this research and its application in the project and the resultant design product. This paper explores strategies which link knowledge acquisition and knowledge application in design studio teaching and learning.


These strategies have been applied in several design studios and master’s theses and involve sixteen years of research by the author through observation, surveys and analysis of student work.


The results show that these strategies are not limited to the design studio, with more than half of them (eight out of fourteen) also applicable in theoretical subjects that sit outside the design studio unit and generate knowledge of relevance to studio projects. As such, the paper advocates for a multi-level approach involving the following: course design and curriculum development, teaching and learning pedagogies and organizational decisions regarding the deployment of staff as for collaborative team-based teaching.

Research limitations/implications

The results also recognize the relevance of problem-based and project-based learning to the broader higher education context and its dependence on a collaborative approach.


This paper which synthesizes this work contributes to the literature on architecture pedagogy, specifically that related to the integration of theoretical and practical subjects.



This research was supported by the Art University of Isfahan (AUI). The author would like to show his gratitude to his colleagues, assistants, and students who assisted with or participated in the case studies at AUI. The author thank his colleagues at Queensland University of Technology (QUT) who provided insight that greatly assisted the research. The author especially thank Professor Jill Franz for her comments that greatly improved the manuscript.


Saghafi, M.R. (2021), "Teaching strategies for linking knowledge acquisition and application in the architectural design studio", Archnet-IJAR, Vol. 15 No. 2, pp. 401-415.



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