The Creative Landscape: Experimenting with a hybridised teaching strategy

Dr. Shannon Satherley (QUT)
2016 Conference

There is a tension in contemporary design studio teaching between the prevailing instrumentality of the ‘learning outcomes’ approach, and the facilitation of student learning through creativity. Authentic learning opportunities sometimes reinforce this tension, with clients defining prescriptively pragmatic design briefs; but they can also create space for a balance between teaching to administrative imperatives, and the creative development of student designers. Such a space has been created in our Queensland University of Technology undergraduate landscape architecture ‘ReGenerate Studio’, in partnership with the Brisbane Powerhouse. This arts-focused client is enabling experimentation with a hybridised teaching strategy, in which students approach the Powerhouse landscape as a place of creative inhabitation, using art and storytelling to explore it, and to present installations and/or performances within the landscape, expressing the qualities they perceive, and visions they have of it. At the same time, they undertake familiar foundational landscape exploration and design processes, and bring both together to germinate design concepts. Over two years, the degree of creativity evidenced in student design work has visibly increased, while still meeting required learning outcomes. This hybridised teaching experiment is demonstrably affording our students learning experiences embracing the creativity, as well as the pragmatics, of landscape architectural design.

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About the author

Dr. Shannon Satherley is a Senior Lecturer in Landscape Architecture at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) School of Design. Since 2003 her teaching has focussed on design studios taught with external communities and clients, and recently, on incorporating creative arts methods into teaching in the landscape design studio. Her research is focussed on the conception of landscape meaning, on design in post-industrial landscapes, and in the pedagogy of authentic learning. Shannon is Vice President of the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects (Queensland Chapter), and a Registered Landscape Architect with P2 Landscape Architecture.