‘Embodiment of the Eye
in Architectural Education’

Paper authored by 2 A&M architecture Ph.D.
students nominated for 2003-05 EAAE Prize

A paper examining visual bias in architectural education, authored by two doctoral students in architecture from Texas A&M University, was one of ten papers selected last fall in an international competition for the 2003-05 European Association for Architectural Education (EAAE) Prize. The international competition is sponsored by the VELUX Group, the world’s leading manufacturer of roof windows and skylights.

The EAAE Prize is presented every two years to stimulate original writings on the subject of architectural education. For the 2003-05 competition, entrants were asked to examine, “how the demands of the information society and ‘new knowledge’ will affect the demand for relevant or necessary ‘know how’ in architectural education?”

The paper written by Upali Nanda and Irina Solovyova and presented at the EAAE’s November 2004 workshop in Copenhagen, Denmark, was the only entry authored by students to be nominated for the prestigious award. Their work, “The Embodiment of the Eye in Architectural Education,” examines the disembodiment of architectural education by focusing on visual bias in education, its cause, and its consequences. It looks at problems in the comprehension and representation of perceptual issues in the current educational setting, and proposes a multi-modal, “synesthetic,” approach that explores different media and different sense-modalities to achieve an embodied objective.

“Synesthesia,” Nanda said, “is a rare neurological phenomenon in which a stimulus to one sense triggers an involuntary response in a different sense. For example, a person with this condition may see the color red when tasting chocolate.”

The synesthetic approach, proposed in Nanda’s doctoral dissertation, explores this phenomenon in architectural education by experimenting with media across sense-modalities. She and Solovyova are both committed to introducing embodied issues to information-age, main-stream education. Their research has been guided by Texas A&M architecture professor Frances E. Downing.

The EAAE competition was open to architecture schools from all over Europe and the Americas. The distinguished panel of judges for the 2003-05 EAAE prize included Alberto Perez-Gomez, Juhani Pallasmaa, Peter McKeith, Per Olaf Fjeld and Dagmar Richter.

The EAAE Prize was first awarded in 1991 and has been sponsored by the VELUX Group since 2001.

“More than ever, future architectural education requires a creative approach to teaching combined with the advancement of architectural research,” reads the EAAE’s promotional brochure. “The aim of the EAAE Prize is to stimulate new pedagogical initiatives and to communicate these initiatives as related to the broad scope of teaching and research.”

— The End —

January 10, 2005

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