P47 – The LightBox project – an interdisciplinary collaboration for production and transference of knowledge and skills in architecture and photography

Auditroium – wednesday 09:00-10:00


Lincoln School of Architecture and Design
College of Arts
University of Lincoln, UK

Doina Carter: Architect, senior lecturer, HEA teaching fellow. Studio tutor, lecturer in humanities subjects and coordinator of History and Theory of Architecture in the Lincoln School of Architecture. Prior to becoming an academic Doina worked in various architectural practices in London (1991-2002).


This paper reports on a model of interdisciplinary collaboration which aims to support 1st year students engagement through participatory events where newly acquired subject specific knowledge can be applied in environments similar to professional real-life situations. The experiment encourages cross-programme transferral of knowledge to enhance own discipline and life skills and awareness.


The LightBox experiment embodies the University of Lincoln’s ethos of ‘student as producer’ (Neary 2012). It is part of a more extensive piece of action research which reconsiders assessment in response to student diversity, an increase in numbers of international students and the need to support transition from high school to HE in order to improve engagement, attainment and retention. The project facilitates a cross-programme collaboration where students work as partners, enabling the sharing of student knowledge and offering an experience outside of the traditional curriculum remit of each course. This paper comments on the project’s premise, organisation, results and research data. In its 3rd year, the Light/Box brings together 1st year BArch(Hons) Architecture and BA(Hons) Contemporary Lens Media (CLM) students in a one day workshop, during which they build, light and photograph a physical scale model of a historic interior design. In this process of active learning students cement classroom subject specific knowledge in a dynamic, interactive manner mimicking real-life professional situations: the CLM students have their first experience of a ‘client’, with specific requirements, to which they have to respond using diverse, newly acquired knowledge; the architecture students need to respond in their design of the scale models to the particular requirements of photography shoots and relinquish control over how their work is ‘seen’ (interpreted). Also, for the architecture students learning to take good photographs of perishable models is one of the essential study skills necessary in studio; grasping its basics in 1st year helps not only with the transition to second year but also equips them for life in practice.

Data collected over the last three years suggests that such collaborations improve students’ confidence in their own domains, while triggering the awareness of belonging to a creative community, within the University and beyond (by being exposed to visiting professionals who attend and support the LightBox workshop). In questionnaires students rate highly the immersive learning experience of the workshop and subsequently they become willing peer mentors for their 1st year colleagues. One important aspect of the on-going action research is strengthening the transferable skills acquired during such events, a number of which are traced and monitored in studio work; some of these skills are subject-specific, being a part of the essential delineation and communication ‘tool-kit’ any architect needs in practice.

This paper reports on the results of such collaborations, which are pedagogically and palpably more than the sum of the parts. This formula of interdisciplinary events can be applied to other domains: the LightBox experiment has inspired a similar, very successful project between the Journalism and Performing Arts courses.

Neary, M (2012) Student as producer: an institution of the common? [or how to recover  communist/revolutionary science] available at https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/sites/default/files/ELiSS0403A_Guest_paper.pdf


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