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New partnerships for action. Building on the capital of environmental psychology and architecture

Romice, O.R. (2003) New partnerships for action. Building on the capital of environmental psychology and architecture. Medio Ambiente y Comportamiento Humano, 4 (1). pp. 15-32. ISSN 1576-6462

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Abstract

Involving community groups in the design process concerning their city or neighbourhood, can play a constructive role in creating responsive environments and, as a result, achieve a higher level of satisfaction for communities. This calls for stronger and more pervasive focus upon building communities (from a social, economic, environmental, technological and public policy perspective); designers are ideally suited to lead such efforts, but not alone. Professional education is an especially valuable training camp in that it shows, explains, encourages, challenges, questions, leaves freedom of expression, reinforces thoughts and provides discipline. This paper argues that engaging students of architecture into live design projects with community groups can help develop in students important intellectual, critical, professional and social skills of support and reinforcement to the discipline, have a positive impact on the community groups, and finally it can have positive effects of the perception that society has of academic institutions. The paper also shows that the collaboration between students of different disciplines can enrich this learning process; presenting a joint project developed by students of architecture and of environmental psychology, it shows the potential long-term strengths and impacts of such a collaboration. The experience illustrated had significant implications on students' academic performance and on the spirit of some of the participants involved in the work. Implications for students' education and training and on the development and reinforcement of the community's capacity building will be discussed and suggestions for curriculum development presented.