CityLabs Architecture Workshop at A-IARG Conference 2023: 'Not Too Late' - Design Thinking for Ecological Futures

A Workshop on Architecture Education Experience - a creatively facilitated 'Learning Salon' which flipped the traditional conference format to prioritize embodied student/learner perspectives and lived experiences and part of a wider ambition to co-design and radically transform architecural education for resilience.

Virtual Place

TU Dublin, Gragegorman Campus.


Start: 14.04.2023
End: 14.04.2023


Cork Centre for Architectural Education (CCAE)

CHALLENGE FOCUS: Those who will be most affected by the future of architecture education should have a say in its design. The goal of this workshop is to foster a sincere exploration of the individual learning journey to create space for students and staff to imagine and co-create a more just and sustainable future.

This creative and interactive CityLabs workshop invited participants to explore their learning journeys in architecture education as one part of a wider ambition for co-designing radical revision in architectural education.


Human Capital Initiative - Resilient Design Curricula The Resilient Design Curricula for 21st Century Professionals project is piloting radical revision in architectural education to prioritise United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 2030 Climate Action (SDG 13.3) and Sustainable Housing (SDG 11.1), and the aligned Irish government policies of the Climate Action Plan and Housing for All. The project partners comprise all 6 schools of Architecture in the Republic of Ireland, Technological University Dublin (project lead), Atlantic Technological University, the Cork Centre for Architectural Education (a joint venture of Munster Technological University and University College Cork), South East Technological University, University College Dublin and the University of Limerick.

The workshop ran as a parallell session during the programme of the All-Ireland Architecture Research Group Conference 2023 'Not Too Late - Design Thinking for Ecological Futures'which took place in Grangegroman, Dublin.


The session began with an introduction and 10-minute contribution from Maroun Tabbal, CCAE Lecturer, Resilient Design Curricula Lead Coordinator + LERO Researcher.

This contribution reflected on Design Science; the work of Richard Buckmister Fuller; 'Curious Minds, The Power of Connection' for inclusive education; descriptive geometry and 'Refabricating Architecture' to propose transformative curricula that create Communities of Practice that go beyond the multi-disciplinary approach to an inter-disciplinary approach - for architecture that collaborates with urban ecologists, evolutionary biologists, natural and social scientists, artists, engineers, builders, makers and other scientists - both specialist and generalist.

The workshop was attended by 19 participants. Conference participants were practising architects, architectural educators and researchers and architectural students.


Participants engaged in an interactive workshop, working in teams to first reflect and exchange on their own learning experiences. The analogy of climbing a mountain was offered as a structure for discussions:

  • Arriving at the mountain: How they came into the learning experience and starting out on the journey
  • Mountain Peaks: Highlights or moments of success along the way
  • In the Woods Moments: Challenges, difficulties or struggles

As groups they were then invited to co-create a visual representation/map of their architectural education learning experiences and journey.

After presenting back to the room, participants engaged in a room discussion reflecting on what insights can be drawn fom these discussions when considering curricula design. This highlighted:

  • The importance of 'feeling' - in particular joy
  • Common experiences of pressure and the value of peers, co-learning
  • The importance of the connection to and integration with context - 'life and architectural education'
  • The need for both formal and informal learning experiences
  • The need to recognise complexity and create space for reflectivity and 'organic' learning
  • Acknoledgement that learners come with different journeys, experiences or obstacles and terrains
  • The challenge to change the frame! In complex adapt systems - not always a path, less linear - 'who are we in the lily pond?'
  • Being able to critically reflect and engage with 'perspectives' when explorign a challenge (your own learning journey or design approach) - the 'mountain' or challenge being faced and being able to relate to other moubtains and challenges in the landscape.
  • Things needed to support the educational experience include: tools, people and place.


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