Henrik Schoenefeldt is giving a talk on the findings of his current research into sustainable education at the Higher Education Academy in York. The talk is entitled Engaging with new practices for sustainability through collaborative research and design, which form part of the Research, Impact, Pedagogy & Engagement series organized by the HEA. A link to the event can be found here.
Last year Dr. Schoenefeldt conducted a series of interviews with practitioners and educators of architecture, which explored the relationship between architectural practice, research and education in sustainable development. The findings of these interviews has led to the development of the pedagogical concept behind his current research project Interrogating the technical, economic and cultural challenges of delivering the PassivHaus standard in the UK. This project explores ways of involving students directly in primary research through larger collaborative research projects. Acting as an alternative to the traditional dissertation, a group of third and fifth year students was invited to from part of a research team working on one large project comprising fifteen in-depth case-studies of PassivHaus schemes certified between 2009 and 2013. In this project the team investigated how architectural practices and the building industry more widely is adapting for sustainability. Over the twelve month period of the project, students were supervised by the author, but also received regular feedback from the industry partners during project workshops and reviews. Through interviews with the architects, contractors, consultants, suppliers, developers students were able to engaged directly with various professions within the building industry that were directly involved in the design, construction post-occupancy evaluation of the PassivHaus case-studies. This enabled students to develop an understanding of the challenges of low energy design not only from point of the architectural profession but also from a cross-industry perspective. The objective behind this project was to bridge the gap between academic research, architectural practice (and the industry more widely) and university-based teaching through a collaboration between academics, students and practitioners. As such it addresses issues raised in the Farrell Report and studies of the Royal Institute of British Architects, Royal Academy of Engineering and SCHOSA, which highlight that teaching, research and practice suffer from too much separation. This project, which will be completed in July 2014, has demonstrated different ways in which university-based education and research can directly engage with and contribute to addressing the practical challenges of introducing sustainable models of practice.