Narratives for practice in academia: Investigating the thresholds between architectural learning and entrepreneurial activities

Chris Thurlbourne
The Aarhus School of Architecture

Practice driven methods through an entrepreneurial approach within academia can qualify research questions by facilitating the production and supply of building components to the building trade. A practice of active participation within construction practices acknowledges building component production as an ongoing means for accumulating new knowledge within academia. The aim of simulating the field of practice in academia through entrepreneurial activities as research based practice seeks to develop means for engaging with subjects such as research relevance in entrepreneurial practice, accumulative knowledge, academia and practice compatibility, relevance of teaching and research curricula through engagement with entrepreneurial activities, and opportunities for calibrations of architectural education.

During a seven year period as Head of the Masters study at The Aarhus School of Architecture (2010-2017) I engaged in a demand from the Danish Ministry of Higher Education for architectural education to engage more with entrepreneurial activities. The ambition was that students, many times during their studies, relate through a close involvement with the outside world and practice that will help to strengthen the students' knowledge of their future working lives, and ensure that the education integrates the necessary skills as demanded by future employers. Research development has therefore been directed towards practice collaborations and entrepreneurial activities for accumulating knowledge to qualify the teaching. The net result of an academic architectural education is to release qualified persons to practice as well as to progress architectural development through research. For independent research development to foster however there are collaborative agreements with practice knowledge transfer and production that need careful consideration to avoid conflicts of interest, unproductivity and most significantly to ensure ownership and independence of the research production.

The methods I have used, and approach taken, adopted an open collaborative engagement between practice and academia. Production through the supply of building components to the building trade offered opportunities to engage through development projects that form foundations for formulating independent research questions. To forward new research this means production through entrepreneurial activities should also focus on new types and means of production, rather than supply and demand alone. The paper will therefore present the importance of new knowledge as a basis for collaboration to ensure both autonomy and relevance.

Through the description of two entrepreneurial led development projects: Research:Live (Denmark) and Ayad river model stretch (India), the paper will discuss the approach taken for preferred frameworks for participation and execution and how these projects were developed with particular referencing of new knowledge production for architectural research development.

The paper will conclude by reflecting on activities in academia that can make meaningful modes of entrepreneurial engagement whilst still preserving an independence of free academic research not curtailed by private companies, but endorsed by them