Pedagogy

Having taught several courses in many institutions in Europe and the Middle East, Ashraf Salama's experience includes teaching courses in environmental perception, architectural programming/briefing, design methods and theories, criticism and assessment in architectural and urban design, research methods in architecture, applications of socio-behavioral studies in design, and architectural, urban, and community design studios.

Current Teaching & Research Supervision

(list of teaching and supervision activities - dropdown)

  • PhD Supervision (Primary Supervisor 12 Students - Secondary Supervisor 5 Students)
  • Master Thesis Supervision
  • PG: Criticism, Assessment and Research Methods in Architecture and Urbanism (CARMAU)
  • PG: Cultural and Behavioural Factors in Architecture and Urbanism
  • UG Dissertation Supervision
  • Y2 & Y5 Contribute lectures in Urban Design and Cultural Studies

Position

In this era of the “explosion of knowledge” I would assert that no architect or urban designer dares to act on the basis of simple intuition or common sense. In academe, it is expected that an architectural educator impart the requisite knowledge and skills necessary for successful practice. However, the way knowledge is transmitted has significant professional and social implications. In this respect, I would argue that architectural education is not simply the imparting of knowledge and skills necessary for practice, but it involves the development of values, ideologies, and philosophical positions. An architectural educator needs to confront several critical issues that pertain to the nature of reality and the way in which knowledge about that reality is conveyed. Students therefore need to be made aware of both positivist and anti-positivist thinking modes about the built environment. While emphasis is placed on the common properties and universal values of the designed environment, my teaching emphasizes that students need to be able to comprehend the environment as having multiple realities by understanding values, preferences, and lifestyles of people, as individuals and in groupings—people who will perceive and occupy those environments.

Approach to Classroom and Studio Teaching

My effort as an architectural educator has been to reconcile technical and programmatic aspects of architecture with the conceptual ones. Thus, the challenge I am trying to face is to reconcile professional abilities and skills with intellectual growth. My intention in teaching a design studio and/or a seminar class at any level is to introduce concepts that represent social and ethical approaches to the profession and that correspond with the responsibility of our budding professionals toward society. These are architectural and urban programming, and environmental and post occupancy evaluation. In my teaching I place high value on user populations and their cultural aspirations. What concerns me is derived from a set of generic approaches that can be exemplified by thinking globally and acting locally, reconciling lectures and studios, sensitizing students in human aspects of the built environment, developing students’ abilities of searching and thinking critically, and integrating real life experiences into design studio teaching practices.

My studio approach emphasizes the integration of what, how, and why of design. I tend to define these questions like this: “What” is characterized by proposing human activities that are appropriate for certain types of buildings, while “how” of design is exemplified by manipulating configurations and forms in response to environmental and humane concerns. On the other hand, “why” is characterized by thinking of why a certain type of space and form is appropriate for a certain type of human behavior. In essence, ,my studio teaching aims to show students that they can conceptualize spaces and still end up with something that can be built. I am driven by a generic goal that emphasizes giving students confidence in their critical abilities-that they can formulate a legitimate, substantial opinion and articulate it. Hence, the major concern is to strike a balance between teaching design as a creative activity and as an activity tempered by the responsibility to the people and place affected by the building. By this, studio assignments and projects involve a knowledge base that has the capability of empowering future designers with more control over their design decisions and actions.