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Winners of the 2023 AASA Teaching and Learning Research Grant Announced!

Congratulations to Dr Sean Pickersgill, Patrick Macaseat, Dr Simon Weir, Dr Kazjon Grace, Dr Cristina Garduño Freeman, Dr Lucila Carvalho and Dr Vicki Leibowitz on winning the AASA Teaching and Learning Research Grant 2023!

Dedicated initially to Online Learning, the Grant was redeveloped with a focus on Teaching and Learning as online learning has become more mainstream in the education environment. The AASA had received eleven outstanding submissions from the architecture education community. Due to the high quality of the proposals that we have received, the AASA has decided that the Grant be awarded to three winners ($5,000 each); they are:

Dr Sean Pickersgill (University of South Australia) and Patrick Macaseat (RMIT University)

Title: The Architects’ Dream, The Sleep of Reason

Dr Simon Weir and Dr Kazjon Grace (University of Sydney)

Title: Co-creative AI in the Architecture Studio

Dr Cristina Garduño Freeman (UNSW), Dr Lucila Carvalho (Massey University) and Dr Vicki Leibowitz (Monash University)

Title: Chatting to Dall*E: A Post-Digital Exploration of Architectural Learning

Three jury members assessed the Grant; these include:

  • Dr John Doyle – 2023 Teaching and Learning Research Grant Chair and AASA President and Program Manager, Master of Architecture, RMIT University

  • Mr Steven Feast –Digital Learning Officer, Architecture and Interior Architecture, School of Design and the Built Environment, Curtin University and AASA Online Learning Portfolio Leader

  • Dr Chris Brisbin, Program Director: Bachelor of Architectural Studies & Master of Architecture, University of South Australia and AASA Treasurer

Under the pedagogy portfolio, the AASA invited Expressions of Interest for a project grant of up to $5,000 from the academic staff of AASA member universities (including affiliate members) wishing to undertake an innovative teaching and learning project addressing the question: “What is an architect in the era of artificial intelligence?”

Our three winners have proposed the following project for their investigation:

Dr Sean Pickersgill (University of South Australia) and Patrick Macasaet, RMIT University

The Architects’ Dream, The Sleep of Reason - Investigating Text/Image/Form Functions within Contemporary AI.

Current AI tools concentrate on two principal areas: text and image generation. The principal tools for directing the AI algorithm are text-based commands. Our project is based on the proposition that the pathway to enhanced innovation in architectural design, documentation and understanding is directly proportional to the sophistication of language models employed to facilitate production. In this instance, architectural theory acts as a pool of design prompts that give context to the visual imagery that the AI tools express. At the outset, the project will challenge the users to identify what aspects of the image represent the text prompts versus the contextual material provided by the AI engine.

Currently, discussion within architectural education has concentrated on issues of plagiarism, intellectual property, and the limited utility of pictorial outputs (however seductive). However, considering the clear value of these tools, the most pressing issue is developing skills in syntax and sequential command forms when composing prompts. Our project aims to employ a taxonomy of text-based theoretical provocations taken from a selection of architectural texts to test the power of architectural theory to generate standard (and non-standard) outcomes. Further, in developing these sequences of commands and directing AI capacity towards 3D modelling software (Rhino, Unreal), we aim to translate these theoretical conditions into identifiable and viable architectural propositions. We will employ these tools within our Masters Design Studio (UniSA and RMIT) and as a dedicated Research Studio for students with advanced skills in architectural theory, modelling and programming.

Dr Simon Weir and Dr Kazjon Grace, University of Sydney

Co-creative AI in the Architecture Studio

The AI-generated design has been heralded as both a revolutionary accelerant and a funeral bell for architects. Much hype surrounds the idea that soon enough, we may speak our intent, and an algorithmic genie will create fully compliant plans, sections, and renders. Regardless of whether this new model would bring utopia or doom to design practice, design does not work that way.

Researchers in architectural design, AI, and cognitive science know that creativity is collaborative, iterative, and situated. Processes can be streamlined, and automation can make designers more productive, but there will be no magic box that replaces designers in the near future. Instead, architectural practice and education will need to develop new approaches to how generative AI can be used ethically, productively, and collaboratively to make design more effective. A very likely scenario in the short term is that AI tools will accelerate architectural representation, thereby freeing time for interpretation and iterative refinement. Rather than labour over one or two proposals, students and architects will be able to develop multiple proposals as easily as today they develop one, and hence, they become more like curators who select from innumerable options, all equally easy to represent.

Regardless of what AI changes in architectural design work, the ancient task of architecture remains: situating the building in its physical and cultural environment.

Dr Cristina Garduño Freeman, UNSW; Dr Lucila Carvalho, Massey University; and Dr Vicki Leibowitz, Monash University

Chatting to Dall*E: A Postdigital Exploration of Architectural Learning

Generative artificial intelligence (AI) is now a key disruptor in higher education, impacting curriculum, learning and professional practice. Rather than denying the use of AI, educators must harness its potential while maintaining the criticality of its limitations and ethical implications.

This project focuses on developing AI literacy practices for both students and teachers. Our emphasis is on Architectural education, specifically, the language of analysis (e.g. concepts related to spatial relationships - proportion and scale) that are pertinent to the practice of design and the discussion and analysis of architecture.

Through a post-digital learning task, this project cultivates critical and creative engagements with existing and emerging AI technologies. By integrating cognitive analysis and AI, students will test and develop their verbal and visual architectural vocabulary. This task situates AI within traditional approaches to architectural learning through precedent analysis. Simultaneously, students and teachers will explore the importance of the prompt as their individual contribution to AI outputs.

These projects will be commenced in the latter part of 2023. It is anticipated that they will be completed by the end of 2024.

Once again, congratulations to Dr Sean Pickersgill, Patrick Macaseat, Dr Simon Weir, Dr Kazjon Grace, Dr Cristina Garduño Freeman, Dr Lucila Carvalho and Dr Vicki Leibowitz on winning the 2023 AASA Teaching and Learning Research Grant!


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