Architectural Design Andragogy: Insights from Online Learning

Ruffina Thilakaratne, Marc Aurel Schnabel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book or Report/Conference proceedingConference Proceedingpeer-review


Architecture education traditionally based on a distinctive andragogy, that revolve around design studios with a strong emphasis on handson technologies and ace-to-face discussions. However, the COVID19 pandemic necessitated a rapid shift to online learning, fundamentally reshaping the conventional studio format. This paper presents a rigorous study that scrutinizes the effectiveness of online design learning in terms of learning outcomes, challenges, users’ feedback and future adaptations. More than ninety undergraduate and postgraduate students who experienced face-to-face and online learning participated in an online survey. The educators participated in interviews. The findings emphasize advantages of online learning, particularly in pre-design phases such as site analysis, research, program development and validation. Nonetheless, students expressed notable limitations in developing design ideas through discussions with tutors and peers, leading to slower progress and dwindling commitment, ultimately fostering demoralization. Educators also encountered challenges in assessing students' reactions, emotions, learning progress. Notably, junior students exhibited reduced motivation and commitment within the online studio environment. To foster authentic learning experiences, the paper concludes with recommendations for post-COVID architecture design education, focusing on infrastructure improvements, integration of hybrid modes, and students' engagement and well-being, while preserving the quality and effectiveness of learning. Overall, our research underscores the pivotal role of traditional design studios in fostering creativity and collaboration among architecture students. While online learning offers certain advantages, particularly in predesign phases, the irreplaceable value of face-to-face interactions remains evident, emphasizing the need for a balanced and hybrid approach in the post-pandemic architectural education landscape.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSustainability and Health: The nexus of carbon neutral architecture and well-being
Subtitle of host publication56th International Conference of the Architectural Science Association (ANZAScA)
Place of PublicationAustralia
PublisherArchitectural Science Association
Number of pages12
ISBN (Print)973-0-9923835-9-6
Publication statusPublished - 4 Dec 2023

Publication series

NameProceedings of the International Conference of Architectural Science Association
PublisherArchitectural Science Association (ANZAScA)
ISSN (Electronic)2209-3850


  • Architectural Design
  • Andragogy
  • Design Learning


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