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  • Writer's pictureVikram Veeravalli

Why Reflect?

the feedback loop metaphor

The pedagogy at School of Environment and Architecture is a dynamic construct that is constantly evolving with its students. Over the five years, the curriculum is split into a series of courses, through a system of modules. Most of these courses focus on articulation of spaces through process, conceptual frameworks, drawings, models, history, theory and building technologies. Each year focuses on a set of courses that combine these frameworks to orient the students to a certain learning criteria.

The first year begins with the process of unlearning, to break down notions, biases, beliefs and much more to get to the crux of everyday thinking. Eventually, the skills of drawing and model making are taught as methods to articulate space. These are interspersed with theory, history and building methodologies to sharpen our understanding of the courses. Further down the line, the design of spaces proceeds to construction details, then to professional practice through internships and the ends finally with a dissertation project that combines all the learnings through the years.

It is at this culmination point that I place myself, to understand what it actually means to reflect on my own work. I am currently in my final year of the B.Arch course, working on my dissertation project. This piece looks back at the practices and ideas that shaped my thinking and knowledge and attempts to answer the question - why reflect?

The feedback loop metaphor

During my second year, there was a course on art history and theory for which our final installations centered around the theme of a feedback loop. A feedback loop is produced when a system takes in part of its output as input for future actions or behavior. Similar to this, each course adds to a certain knowledge that could be utilized later in a different scenario.

The initial years of study helped in finding new methods of drawing and representation. The pedagogy allows for a lot of experimentation and exploration. The experimentations become the input for building new techniques and ideas or thoughts. In the later years, these experimentations produce new forms of drawings or thoughts which then become new inputs to work on. This continuous process of learning becomes a cumulative exercise on building or setting up a practice for oneself. A practice emerges out of this form of reflection when there is a slight tending to a certain overarching theme of learning and work.

The metaphor becomes activated through a clear analysis of the past that informs the decisions of the present and the next. The loop is a progression in three dimensions that constantly grows in a spiral, and not a cycle in two dimensions. It becomes important to grow through the work and constantly evolve with new technologies and contemporary discourses.

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