Design Teaching beyond Boundaries

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  • Title: Design Teaching beyond Boundaries: Lessons Learned from Collaborative Design Studio
  • Author(s): Harsha Munasinghe
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Series: Design Principles & Practices
  • Journal Title: The International Journal of Design Education
  • Keywords: Design Learning, Collaborative Studio, Knowledge Creation, Learning Culture
  • Volume: 14
  • Issue: 2
  • Year: 2019
  • ISSN: 2325-128X (Print)
  • ISSN: 2325-1298 (Online)
  • DOI:
  • Citation: Munasinghe, Harsha. 2019. "Design Teaching beyond Boundaries: Lessons Learned from Collaborative Design Studio." The International Journal of Design Education 14 (2): 31-41. doi:10.18848/2325-128X/CGP/v14i02/31-41.
  • Extent: 11 pages


Studio is the most tested device used to teach architectural design. Being intertwined with an embedded epistemology and social relationships, the current design studio is mostly plagued with a power structure dominated by the teacher. This practice of passing teacher’s designing practice to students has made the studio a guild-training rather than a learning space. This plummeting pedagogical tool is largely responsible for the increasing disengagement of students and their kitsch designs. Design studio should encourage the collaboration of all learners—students and teacher—in order to be a space for knowledge-construction and dissemination. We facilitated a collaborative design studio at Kotelawela Defense University in Sri Lanka in 2016, with aims to test the strength of such collaboration. This article describes the lessons learned from that studio, where the process of learning was stressed over teaching to produce an end-product. Our studio, with a broadly defined design brief, encouraged the collaboration of students of various academic levels and teachers of five schools. Having emphasized the strength of setting as the point of departure for this design assignment, we studied how students and teachers collaborated in design conceptualization and realization through observation, participatory observation, and in-depth-interviews. We noted how ideas were exchanged as there were no hidden dynamics dominated by teachers. Students as well as teachers confessed to the success of the collaborative studio for its openness and promotion of a new teaching method.