The shadow and the substance : architectural education and its relation to practice with special reference to Saudi Arabia
This study takes as its starting point the generally accepted fact that there exists a gap between architectural education and architectural practice in Saudi Arabia. It seeks to answert he following researchq uestions: What is the magnitude of the gap? How does the gap manifest itselp. Where do the causes of the gap lie? How can the problem of the gap be tackled? What further research needs to be done on the question of the training/practice gap? The researcher undertook a pilot study to explore the nature of the problem, followed by a more extensive field trip to Egypt and Saudi Arabia to gather data. A qualitative methodology, a descriptive approach, a survey type of research design, and an interview data collection technique were adopted. In order to set the field trip results in context, the study outlines the evolution of the architecture profession and its relationship to the training of architects through history, with special reference to architectural education in three countries, the UK, the USA, and Egypt, which in different ways have had a particularly strong influence on Saudi architectural education. In view of the basic premiss of the study architectural practice in Saudi Arabia is also examined so as to establish its relationship with the existing architectural schools. What practice does - or in the case of Saudi Arabia perhaps fails to do - affects what happens in the schools and affects the structure, content, and delivery of the curriculum. Architectural education in Saudi Arabia is described, set in the context of the Saudi educational system in general, as well as in relationship to architectural practice. An account of the emergence of the Saudi architecture schools is given, and details of their structure, students, teaching staff and curriculum are provided, in order to aid the analysis of field trip results. Using the data from the survey, a thorough and extensive analysis of the researcher's field trip research is presented to show how the gap between education and practice manifests itself with respect to the curriculum of Saudi architecture schools, to the teaching approaches used, and to architectural practice in the country. The survey data forms the basis for the study of the causes of the education/practice gap. The findings of the study are that the gap manifests itself in various ways: the fact that new architecture graduates are unprepared for what they meet in practice, in particular that the abstract three-dimensional concept of design they are introduced to in architecture school is far removed from the reality of the building process; that they are unfamiliar with office and managemenpt rocedures; that they have no awareness of the financial and other constraints that attend architectural practice. In other words the causes of the gap between architectural education and practice are found to lie in education in that much of the curriculum is irrelevant to Saudi practice, in that the curriculum lacks integration, in that teachers are distanced from practice because they are not permitted to practise, in thaf teaching techniques are unimaginative and inefficient, and in that there is no effective provision for practical training. Further causes are found to lie in practice, in that practice is not properly organised - there being no effective' professional body to control practice, to advise legislative authorities, to establish codes and standards for the profession to follow (and for architectural education to aim at), to accredit architecture school programmes, and to set up and oversee the registration of architects. The study makes recommendations that would address the problem of the gap between architectural education and practice, in particular the establishment of an effective professional body, the overhaul of the education curriculum, and the setting up of a proper system of practical training similar to that found in Anglo-Saxon countries. The study makes suggestions for further research,a nd provides appendices containing the full text of the researcher's fieldwork interviews and an account of the psychology of learning which may provide ideas for further research.