Bendiner-Viani, Gabrielle and Maltby, Elliott. "Hybrid Ways of Doing: A Model for Teaching Public Space," in ArchNet-IJAR: International Journal of Architectural Research, vol. 4, issues 2/3 (2010).
This paper addresses an exploratory practice undertaken by the authors in a co-taught class to hybridize theory, research and practice. This experiment in critical transdisciplinary design education took the form of a “critical studio + practice-based seminar on public space”, two interlinked classes co-taught by landscape architect Elliott Maltby and environmental psychologist Gabrielle Bendiner-Viani at the Parsons, The New School for Design. This design process was grounded in the political and social context of the contested East River waterfront of New York City and valued both intensive study (using a range of social science and design methods) and a partnership with a local community organization, engaging with the politics, issues and human needs of a complex site.
The paper considers how we encouraged interdisciplinary collaboration and dialogue between teachers as well as between liberal arts and design students and developed strategies to overcome preconceived notions of traditional “studio” and “seminar” work. By exploring the challenges and adjustments made during the semester and the process of teaching this class, this paper addresses how we moved from a model of intertwining theory, research and practice, to a hybrid model of multiple ways of doing, a model particularly apt for teaching public space. Through examples developed for and during our course, the paper suggests practical ways of supporting this transdisciplinary hybrid model.