Challenging Practice is a project developed by an Architecture Sans Frontières partnership funded by the European Commission under the LLP Leonardo Da Vinci programme to develop a training that teaches built environment professionals to work and engage with the low-income majority in the urban context. It involves five ASF organisations, and it was implemented over a two year period thanks to the volunteer work of a number of ASF members and associates based in France, Italy, Spain, Sweden and the UK.
We have been partnering on this project over two years, designing a training programme called ‘Challenging Practice. Essentials for the Social Production of Habitat’. This training intends to challenge built environment professionals’ existing knowledge and perspectives, to enable them gain an introduction to the appropriate competencies and understanding of how to work effectively with margialised communities, to ultimately address the problems of urban poverty.
This course has been developed as ASF International strongly believes that the construction of social facilities for the benefit of the most underprivileged sectors of the world’s population requires a broader approach from built environment professionals. It is hoped that the course will build on existing skills and experience, and broaden the focus that we are all encouraged to accept during our studies and working lives, so that we together can improve conditions for the world’s urban poor by providing appropriately trained professionals.
This complete course is aimed at professionals working in the built environment (architects, engineers, builders, planners, urban designers, etc) and is delivered in English in every partner-country participating in the project. The core parts of the training will be delivered online for working professionals to be able to study in their own time.
The course is divided into four stages: a theoretical online introduction, a two-day seminar, a deeper theoretical online course and finally a practical workshop. We have developed different stages to this training integrating a short and long-term approach. Our short term approach is to deliver Stage 1 of the training, which has been completed at the end of July 2012 and is now available for free download. The graphic below outlines the overall training including the short and long-term approach.
This stage provides an initial overview of the knowledge required to engage with vulnerable groups in the urban context. It lays the foundations of understanding the complexities in this field. We have divided this first stage of the course up into 12 modules which are not intended to have any form of hierarchy in how they are approached, other than the Urban Context Module which lays the foundations for the learning. All the modules cover complex and difficult subjects and this first stage of the overall training is intended purely as an introduction to the topics. Each module is composed of a summary of the topic, including links to other relevant modules. To supplement the text we suggest some key readings or films, and form an essential part of the module. All the readings are freely accessible on the internet: if the links provided should be no longer active, learners are invited to look for them on the internet by means of typing their titles into any search engine. The whole introductory course should take approximately 50 hours to complete, including compulsory readings and videos. The entire collection of modules that form Stage 1 of the training can be downloaded here.
The second stage is a weekend seminar and will be delivered at least four times a year (once in each partner-country). It will enable participants to reflect on their knowledge through case studies and facilitated discussions and interactive scenario building and role plays. Information about the first round of seminars will be uploaded soon.
This stage will also be delivered online and will allow more in depth learning of the topics covered in Stage 1. It will provide further literature and more technical data to complete the learning outcomes. This stage will also measure the learning of trainees through an evaluation which will assess each individual’s understanding of the course up until this point.
The ASF partners involved are either specialised in running national or international workshops and/or in delivering projects nationally and internationally. This final stage will allow practical hands-on experience, to put into practice the theoretical learning of previous stages through a practical internship or the attendance of a workshop in the field. Initially these will be with the current ASF partners, with the intention of including new partners for the ongoing development and execution of the course.
July 31, 2012