Interdisciplinarity and Design: Tools for Teaching Urban Morphology
As a taught subject, the interdisciplinary nature of urban morphology presents both challenges and advantages. One challenge lies in providing some kind of structure or ‘scaffold’ that can aid the student in bringing together the diverse strands of the subject. Conversely, addressing the very different backgrounds of students who come from different disciplines might seem to undermine the benefits of any common structure. Both of these potential problems can be turned to advantage in light of Howard Gardner’s principle of multiple intelligences (Multiple intelligences: new horizons. Basic Books, New York, 2006) and the more general practice of differentiated instruction. That is, the diversity of urban morphology as a subject lends itself to differentiated instruction and the diversity in the backgrounds of the students and their different modes of thinking. Taking this premise as a starting point, the chapter describes some of the practical methods used to teach urban morphology in a graduate-level course and reflects on the benefits of a differentiated approach. The methods discussed include field visits, analytical and design exercises, presentations, critiques, project-based coursework and a studio environment for inter-student learning. The chapter concludes with reflections on the role of design in providing a way into an exploration of the underlying principles of urban morphology.