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The Politics of Integrated Design

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In 1983, together with a group of colleagues at the University of Auckland School of Architecture, I initiated a new "subschool" within the mainstream programme, called the "Integrated Design Subschool". As its name implies, its essential philosophy and vision was to develop student design studio projects in which the students would attempt to integrate all of the extant variables that influence design thinking and practice - engineering, soil mechanics, cost, construction technology, brief-writing, energy efficiency etc..) in one project. Much to my surprise, it turned out that political factors were much more influential in the work of the subschool and in its design projects than any of us would have expected. In the four years from the start of the Subschool in 1983 to 1987, a remarkable number of studio design projects took on a decidedly political turn. This paper charts their history and details the specifics of two of them. Some general conclusions are drawn about the significance of political content in design studios and of its educational value. The paper was written initially in 1988, but its points remain as relevant now as they were then.

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