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Xavi Llobet: How to Research by Design

Xavi Llobet, Full Professor at ETSABarcelona (UPC) and director of the Master’s degree in Advanced Studies in Architecture-Barcelona (MBArch): Contemporary Project.

As the conflicts in creative education have been a continuing and discussed issue over the past years, Xavi Llobet contributed to the agenda of SlavConf. Reinforcement, talking about Program Development in Contemporary Postgraduate Education. He disclosed how the Master’s degree he is managing has been created and how it differs from the standard teaching methodologies.

The program started in 1993 with a pilot course just after the Olympic Games when Barcelona had a positive transformation and solved a lot of urban, architectural and social problems. The investment was not only used for the Olympic Games, but also to improve the larger scale of Barcelona. For that reason the Master’s program was at first focused on the larger scale. Nowadays, the team of professors are working to translate it to the new generations.

Xavi Llobet explains that for them it is important to mix three activities during the education process: research, training and practice. The teaching methodology they have used since 1993 is called “Research by Design”. This method is generally not implemented in most of the schools, but they believe in it as it emphasizes equally on both research and design.

One of the things they try to teach is that some of the worst heritage received from modern times is city planning and urban design. To them the public space is the cultural focus of the community. They want to explain Barcelona to foreign students and do projects to improve the public space of the city, but they also ask students to think of a conflict in their home city which could be solved by architecture. They try not to make their students focus too much on analysis of the city, which they believe could sometimes distract from the real issues. Students share their cultures, traditions and local architecture, and urban planning. And even though the geography is different, Llobet says that the contemporary problems are really similar even if they compare different continents such as Asia, Europe or South America. They are discussing the present day and the past few decades with their students, encouraging them to think about the present days, to define the times they live in and reflect on contemporary issues and ideas.

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