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The comprehension of place awareness in a historical context: metaphors in architectural design education

2019-9-25
Özkan Yazgan, Esra
Akalın, Aysu
This study examines cognitive operations in the design studio - the main component of architectural education - and reviews these operations with regard to a design problem. It also develops an argument for performing an analysis of place awareness in historic context while considering the characteristics of the place where the project will be located and accepting that these characteristics affect the architectural design process. Accordingly, the processes experienced by second-year architecture students on architectural design courses will be analyzed, and the contributions of the data collected from the place to their designs will be evaluated. The educational concept of the design studio, which was also examined in this study, focuses on the design problems in historical environments and implies place awareness. Importance is attached to the idea that students experience and assess the place by developing body-sensory relationships in order to acquire place awareness during the design period. The process of assessing aims to grasp the secret and unexplored spirit of the place and obtain clues regarding the design. The analyzed architectural design cases are related to the study of Aizanoi - an ancient settlement in Anatolia (cavdarhisar) - conducted by the second-year students in the spring term of the 2016-2017 academic year. Different student approaches emerged at the end of the design process, which lasted fourteen weeks. Some of the students emphasized the spirit of the place with a metaphorical reasoning. These projects were analyzed under the context of cognitive operations; application, analogy, combination and abstraction as defined by Welling (2007). The approach, imitating an already-existing object, which is also regarded as "application", is not a method that is supported in regard to the educational approach of the design studio. According to the results of the analysis of the projects in the other three categories, place awareness is low in the analogical approaches. In addition, evidence indicates that place awareness significantly increased in the studies in the "combination" group and reached the highest degree in those projects containing "abstraction". Regarding the projects that did not present a metaphorical reasoning, graphical perfection was prioritized but the scale of the urban texture was neglected. The priority for graphical perfection is to fulfill the functional requirements and solve the accessibility problems. To sum up, both metaphorical and structural attitudes were developed by the contributions from the students' current knowledge and experiences regarding the place, but evidence suggests that metaphorical approaches are concerned with belonging to the "place" in a deeper sense.