WHO WE ARE
SITUATE | DESIGN | BUILD (SDBU) operates as an experimental arm of the academy to provide co-institutional opportunities for the application of design and construction arts. All our projects are designed and built on-site with students and professionals, with an emphasis in immersing ourselves in the form-of-life of particular communities. We aspire to the master builder tradition of apprenticeship leading to practice with the learning-by-doing imperative as our fundamental underpinning. Students engage with communities, consider the economic and political contexts, collaborate on design, and engage in the performance of building, or improvisatory construction, as a collective art practice. Counter to the dominant model of education which focuses on standardization, specialization, homogeneity and an insular environment, we believe that connecting to specific communities beyond the classroom, and rethinking the learning environment as well as social relations, allows students with multiple learning styles to thrive. By harnessing the existing creativity, imagination, alertness, and curiosity of students we see that there is no limit to what a body can do. SDBU takes some initial steps towards an alternative form of architecture pedagogy and practice that is oriented meaningfully in the world.
We expect to ignite our student’s passion to learn through meaningful work, flexible curriculum choices, differentiated instruction, and mentoring. Students are be plugged-in to knowledge from outside experts who will enrich their learning experience and provide a foundation and network for students to meet their larger objectives. Our project leaders encourage students to take risks, solve problems, test hypotheses, consolidate information, think sensibly, and make informed judgements without the fear of failure.
SDBU operates outside the doctrines of architectural fashion and traditional design studio environments. Its elastic pedagogical model negotiates with realities of the real world formed around a series of situations (embedded contexts) that become the curriculum for small cohort groups of ten, supervised by two project leaders and one professional builder or craftsperson.
Student cohorts commit themselves fully to a path of intensive in-situ studios, workshops, and digital fabrication applications in the creation of experimental design ideas mocked up at 1:1. They are networked with skilled international professionals looking to obtain Canadian experience, faculty pursuing professional development opportunities, and practicing professionals seeking retreat-like experiences as an affirmation of the possibilities of architecture and building.
SDBU has evolved into a conduit for providing work-studies, internships, and career opportunities for design students through direct industry-engaged learning-by-doing experiences rooted in the art of making. To date we have collaborated with students from Carleton University, Humber Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning, Ontario College of Art and Design, Sheridan College, Ryerson University, Queens University, the University of Guelph, the University of Toronto, and the University of Waterloo in addition to high school students from the York Region Catholic School Board.
To date, our cohorts have arrived from architecture, industrial design, interior design, building science, and urban design schools in a range from graduates seeking to elevate their portfolio in pursuit master’s studies or undergrads looking to gain relevant real-world experience. Secondary students interested in exploring a career in design or individuals looking to develop portfolios for application into post-secondary design schools have also participated.
SDBU is a not-for-profit vehicle organized within a framework of social enterprise, with the autonomy to foster connections and exchanges between collaborators. We are committed to economic, social, and environmental equity within a fully transparent accounting model. We self-fund our projects with supplemental revenue from partners and project costs paid by students, which are used promote and administer the lab, fund research projects, and provide scholarships or bursaries to worthy candidates.
Our parent company STUDIO C2 acts as the administrative and management arm. Ultimately we anticipate creating an economic ecosystem that can sustain and reinvent itself in response to its context.
We are developing fee-for-service offerings and we expect that innovation transfer to industry and global markets will create market-driven revenue streams. We anticipate developing publications and maximizing social media’s reach to promote our mandate and take advantage of the economics of trust and reputation.