Architectural Studio Tinkerings: Workshop at the Hellenic Conference on Innovating STEM Education

This workshop brings the pedagogical practices of the architecture studio to center stage; we argue that introducing architecture as a subject in STEM-integrating school curriculums may result in substantial innovations within K-12 education. In our approach, architecture is not perceived as an added discipline, but rather, as a flexible platform for integrating STEM subjects through hands-on, project-based learning practices.
With contributions by architects and educators from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard Graduate School of Design, Dartmouth College and the National Technical University of Athens School of Architecture, we will explore different aspects of creativity, as experienced in the architecture studio, with or without the use of automatic machines. 
In the general objective of nurturing creativity, what makes the contribution of the architectural approach unique? In what ways do those particular pedagogical features enable the architectural studio to operate as the ideal platform for a STEM-integrating k-12 education?
Architectural Studio Tinkerings addresses everyone interested in exploring project-based learning practices for nurturing students creativity, in integrative, interdisciplinary, collaborative ways.
Saeed Arida, Architect MIT (PhD, ‘11), NuVu Studio Founder
Sotirios Kotsopoulos, Architect NTUA, MIT (PhD, ’05), MIT Media Lab Research Affiliate
Zenovia Toloudi, Architect AUTh, Harvard GSD (DDeS, ’11), Artist, and Assistant Professor at Studio Art, Dartmouth College
Dimitris Papanikolaou, Architect NTUA, Urban Scientist, Engineer, Harvard GSD (DDes, ’16)
Athina Papadopoulou, Architect NTUA, PhD Researcher MIT
Stavros Martinos, Architect, PhD candidate NTUA, ARKKI School of Architecture Academic Supervisor
Hara Gavra, Architect AUTh, MSc NTUA,
Stavros Martinos, Architect, PhD Candidate NTUA,
Athina Stavridou, Assistant Professor NTUA School of Architecture,
More Seeing in Learning / Saeed Arida
In this talk, Saeed will discuss the role of design in innovative pedagogies and how a design mindset has the capacity to unlock students’ creative potential.  At NuVu, students learn through two-week studios covering a range of topics, thus establishing a creative rhythm that enables them to rigorously iterate through novel ideas and design products that solve a challenging, real-world problem. 
Our studio topics change dynamically, providing what we call a “live curriculum“ to address complex, contemporary socio-technological issues such as artificial intelligence, generative design, advanced manufacturing, as well as social inequality, the refugee crisis, and homelessness. In this way, the students stay connected to the world, by investigating issues that impact our current reality and actively designing solutions. Our mission is to educate highly creative and skilled individuals for whom the world is their playground, and who possess the creative confidence and the skills to make a difference.  
Saeed Arida is the Founder and Chief Excitement Officer of NuVu studio, a full time innovation school based in Cambridge, MA. NuVu is paving the way for a new studio education model that nurtures students’ creative and innovative skills through project-based collaborative design. NuVu also works with schools to introduce integrated studio programs through the development of innovative curricula, teacher training, and on the ground pedagogical and technical support. The studio management system developed by NuVu is currently used by thousands of middle, high school and university students across the globe. The work of NuVu students regularly garnishes national and international media attention through such mainstream and educational outlets as Wired, NPR, Venture Beat, TechCrunch, as well as the White House Science Fair.
Dr. Arida received his PhD in Design Computation as a Presidential Fellow at MIT, where his doctoral research examined the intricacies of the creative process and the nature of creativity. This work, explored how an educational environment can nurture creative learning, formed the pedagogical framework for NuVu. Prior to studying at MIT, he earned his Bachelor of Architecture from Damascus University in Syria.
Innovation vs Invention in Architecture / Sotirios D Kotsopoulos PhD
The words “invention” and “innovation” are often used interchangeably. Although this may not be entirely incorrect, it still misses a few key differences in meaning. Invention is about creating something new, while innovation introduces the concept of “use” of an idea or method. An invention is usually a “thing”, while an innovation is usually causes change in behavior or interactions.
“Inventions” (patents) do not always equate to “innovations” (things). Most innovations are evolutionary, and often messy changes to existing processes, uses, or functions, which are made better by one (or several) contributing inventions. With these distinctions in mind, my short presentation will use the Connected Home research project and try to expose and speculate on “what can be an innovative vision in Architecture?”. After a brief reference to key concepts, the three fundamental user interaction contributions of the Connected Home will be exposed and the technological solutions involved in implementing its innovative features will be presented.
Sotirios examines the impact of computational processes on how we theorize and practice design. He uses formal, generative means like shape algebras, and rule schemata, as well as simulation tools and Artificial Intelligence algorithms to explore the constructive associations of form, structure and performance from a computational perspective. Since 2008 he has been the project architect of the Connected Home research that was held by the MEL Design Laboratory of MIT and the Fondazione Bruno Kessler of Italy.
The Connected Home renews many aesthetic and performative aspects of architecture, integrating passive and active technologies such as high thermal mass and electroactive materials, a wireless sensor networks, renewable energy production, and an autonomous, model based control system optimizing the performance of all the above. Sotirios holds a Ph.D. in Design & Computation from MIT (2005), an S.M. Arch in Design Technology from MIT (2000), an M. Arch from SCI-Arc (1994), under a Fulbright scholarship, and a Diploma in Architectural Engineering from the National Technical University of Athens, Greece (1992). He has numerous academic publications and awards, and since 2005 is teaching crossdisciplinary courses and workshops at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Wentworth Institute of Technology. Since 2015 serves as the Head of Design Research at NuVu Innovation Center.
Learning from Finland: Architectural Education and the Value of Play / Stavros Martinos
Stavros Martinos (b. 1978) is an architect (M.Arch) and a PhD candidate at the National Technical University of Athens.
He has worked as an architect and consultant in private and public projects, and as a researcher at the National Technical University of Athens and CNRS, in the frame of scientific collaborations between Greece and France. He has taught undergraduate Architectural History and Theory courses at the National Technical University of Athens and is a frequent contributor to conferences, exhibitions, publications and scientific workshops in Greece and abroad. In 2014, he became Academic Director of the Arkki School of Architecture for Children and Youth, for Greece and Cyprus.
Stavros Martinos is a member of DoCoMoMo International and has been invited twice as an independent expert at the evaluation committee of the European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture – Mies van der Rohe Award, in 2014 and 2016. He is the recipient of the Greek State Scholarship Foundation Prize for undergraduate studies (1996) and the Stanley J. Seeger Fellowship (2012) for research at Princeton University.
Objects-to-sense-with: Tools for embodied spatial learning in architecture education / Athina Papadopoulou
Architecture education, by being enclosed in studios has been detached from a direct sensory experience of space. To overcome this limitation, I suggest an interdisciplinary educational approach based on the use of objects-to-sense-with. Alluding to Seymour Papert’s term “objects-to-think-with” Idefinethe term “objects-to-sense-with” to refer to computational tools that provide a body-centric, self-directed, and situated learning of space focused on the senses. To offer a framework for the proposed method, I first discuss the sensory pedagogiesformulated in the Montessori method and the Bauhaus School.
Then, I discuss the process and results of a workshop that I co-taught at MIT where students made their ownobjects-to-sense-with with embedded sensors, explored different physical spaces with these tools, and then documentedtheir sensory interactions in space. Finally,to provide further evidence on the pedagogical implications of such tools, I discuss the method, process, and results of a controlled study with participants exploring physical spaces on MIT campus while using a wearable tool –an object-to-sense-with- that I developed.
Athina Papadopoulou is an architect and design researcher. She is currently a PhD student in the Design Computation Group and a researcher in the Self-Assembly Lab, both at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), department of architecture. Athina’s research includes the development of computational tools and methods for sensory-based learning in architecture, and the development of active material environments. Her research has been published in Cognitive Processing, Nature Scientific Reports, 3DPrinting+ and other venues. She has co-organized and co-chaired the workshop Intelligent Environments for Creative Learning at IE 2013, the conference Active Matter Summit at MIT 2015, and the symposium Computing Embodied Architectures at ICSC 2015.
Athina has taught design computing workshops at MIT and design computing research and studio at the Boston Architectural College. Athina holds a Masters of Science in Design Computation from MIT, and a Diploma in Architectural Engineering and Masters of Science in Design-Space-Culture from the National Technical University of Athens. She is registered architect in Greece where she holds her own practice.
Collaborative Design and Creativity through Task Interdependency in STEAM Education / Dimitris Papanikolaou
Systems thinking and design are essential components in STE[A]M education. The former, for understanding why the world behaves the way it does while the latter for constructing the world to behave in a certain way. Designing, making, and playing, widely established in constructionism theory literature, provide contextual yet engaging frameworks for systemic learning. While at early ages, designing serves primarily as an instrument for individual exploration, creativity, and artistic expression, at graduate levels, designing becomes a methodical tool for problem solving in which the complexity of a project requires synergy, collaboration, and sharing. Can task interdependency, typically found in the latter cases, enhance learning and creativity while promoting social interaction in the former cases? If so, is this a feature that can be acquired at early ages or is it instead a typical characteristic of adults?
With most literature concentrating in the first case there is little evidence to support this. In this presentation, I discuss comparatively two types of design workshop experiments, that explored the role of task interdependencies in learning and creativity at both middle school and graduate level students. In the first type of design workshop, students were asked to collaboratively design and create mechanically actuated toys consisting of multiple interrelated components, each of which had to be developed by an individual student, while meeting specific performance criteria. Students had to negotiate what they could design, design what they could model, model what they could fabricate, and fabricate what that they could assemble.
In the second type of design workshop, students were asked to collaboratively design, play, and consecutively analyze, an interactive participatory game that would simulate an imaginary smart transportation system and its challenges. Students brainstormed ideas of how to use electronics, interaction design and game theory to track players’ actions and induce their decisions to improve collective good. Findings from both workshop experiments suggest that task interdependencies not only catalyzed learning and social skills by cultivating a sense of a team, but they also promoted creativity and sharing of authorship at both age groups.
Dr. Dimitris Papanikolaou (DDes) is an urban scientist, architect, and engineer, and a postdoctoral researcher at Harvard Graduate School of Design. His research and pedagogy examine the intersection of design, media, and cybernetics, through the lens of complexity science and data analysis. His scholarship has been published in 15 peer-reviewed conferences and 7 books and journals, and his work has received distinctions including the Buckminster Fuller Challenge; the Harvard Deans’ Design Challenge; the MIT Transportation showcase award in Economics, Finance, Policy and Land Use; the Harvard Fellowship on Energy and Environment; the Harvard Meyer Transportation Fund award; and a Fulbright Fellowship for graduate studies at MIT. His pedagogy on games and learning has been presented in conferences in learning sciences such as the Interaction Design and Children (IDC) and in educational venues including Harvard’s Graduate School of Education TEDx conference. He has worked at Microsoft Research (Computational User Experiences / Vibe / Lab of Things) on applications of the Internet of Things and teaches courses on intelligent systems and integrative design at graduate levels at NYU, MIT, and Harvard, and at middle school levels at NuVu and HAEF. He holds a Doctor of Design in urban studies from Harvard GSD, an MSc in Media Arts and Sciences from MIT Media Lab, an MSc in Design and Computation from MIT SAP, and a Diploma in Architectural Engineering from NTUA.
A is for…? STE-A-M and the Triad of Art, Architecture and Technology / Zenovia Toloudi
Globe with its urgent problems and inequalities needs not only great engineers, and mathematicians to save it, but also these individuals who have ethics and empathy to grasp the urgency and commit to the rescue. Do current higher education invests in this direction to create individuals that do not only perform greatly in assigned or given tasks but they are also determined to invent new methods to address emergent phenomena and unforeseen conditions?
As a president of RISD from 2008 to 2013, John Maeda, has advocated the “STEM to STEAM” concept to promote art and design in education for students to acquire skills in risktaking and creative problem-solving. Few years later, many schools in USA are in this process of adding the “A” in the curricula, however the transition takes a lot of time and has multiple challenges. The same applies in architecture higher education: the artistic experimentation has either moved away from the “object” to large-scale approaches (eg. landscape) or has limited itself to become a digital artifact.
There is not enough art, and when there is it is not critical enough. This talk addresses the challenges of emphasizing art within college/university as part of developing architectural education. In particularly it takes a Heideggerian approach to technology through the concept of the Greek technae and uses that to build a triad among art, architecture and technology, which can serve as a useful mechanism to bridge certain chasms in higher education. Through this process architecture education also redefines itself to become more relevant.
Zenovia Toloudi is an architect, artist, and Assistant Professor of Architecture at Studio Art, Dartmouth College. She has received a Doctor of Design degree from Harvard GSD, a Master of Architecture from Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) – as a Fulbright Fellow, and a Diploma in Architectural Engineering from Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (AUTh). In 2000, Zenovia founded Studio Z, a research and creative practice for architecture, art and public space. Her work has been exhibited internationally, including Venice Biennale, The Lab at Harvard, American Institute of Architects New York Chapter, and Athens Byzantine Museum. Zenovia has created public art for numerous buildings in Boston, including the Lansdowne Street Garage Parking, MIT Stata, New England College of Optometry, and for the campus yard of AUTh, and the entrance of Leslie Center for the Humanities, Dartmouth. Her work belongs to permanent collections such as AUTh’s Sculpture Collection, and Threcian Pinacotheca. Zenovia has presented in conferences such as The Right to Architecture, International Symposium for Electronic Arts, Atmospheres-Tomorrow, Atmos, Connections (MIT Media Lab), Design Computing and Cognition, and the MIT Energy Night. Her essays have been published in Routledge, Technoetic Arts, MAS Context, WAr, and proceedings of ACSA 104 and 101, ICSV17, SIGraDi 2010 and 2008, and the 1st International File to Factory Symposium. She has co-curated the exhibition Made in Greece Plus at the Boston Museum of Science, and organized many academic events including Brain.Storms, Inspire Japan; Critical Digital conferences. Zenovia has also taught at Harvard, MIT, IIT, AUTh, WIT, BAC, and Hellenic American Educational Foundation. 
The workshop will be conducted on the 16th of December 2016 within the context of the HiSTEM 2016 – Hellenic Conference on Innovating STEM Education. You can find more on the programme and speakers here.