UTM Architecture Programme Collaborate Design Studio Programme with School of Architecture (VSPARC), Vellore Institute of Technology (VIT), India

The collaborative design has always been a part of the architectural design process. In the past, it has required the actual presence of those participating in the design process, but this is no longer necessary nowadays. Thanks to the advancement of technology,  digital files can now be sent over the web at high speed and with ease, most institutions use databases, digital design, and the Internet to carry out collaborative work. Other than that, collaborative design studios is widely conducted via the immersive, intuitive in-person collaborative experience apps on an online whiteboard with many possibilities for real-time or asynchronous collaborations, such as Miro and Google Classroom.

Via the “Borderless Learning” approach inspired by New Academia Learning Innovation (NALI) promoted by UTM, the UTM Architecture Programme and School of Architecture (VSPARC), Vellore Institute of Technology (VIT), India has collaborated and worked together beyond the borders via virtual communication and design platform for a community design & planning project entitled “Aikyakula: Replotting Community and a Public Spaces” from 24th March 2022 to 9th April 2022.

The collaborative design studio’s goal is to create an architectural community plan based on strategic planning for the presently underutilised wide stretches of land in Vellore west of the Fort and the market-based core. In terms of place-making and community building design aspects, the residential community development should incorporate a sound understanding of social, cultural, environmental, and economic elements in relation to its chosen sites. The planning and architecture will demonstrate considerable biodiversity-positive value for the natural environment and will be explicitly included in the architectural development to enhance flora and fauna sustainability.

The students from UTM and VIT have worked together and contributed ideas that emerge from the typical format of plots in incremental developments on the outskirts of Vellore’s built-up region. Encroachment is the current development approach. To boost density, students were experimenting with new ways to use the land. Based on equal property usage, the team suggested creating considerably greater actual value, which might reshape the future landscape.

Design Critique process by lecturers from VSPARC VIT and Architecture Programme UTM

The collaborative design studio is part of the VIT community studio phases. In order to enrich and enhance the design output, a collaborative design studio among students from India and Malaysia would be a great fusion and opportunity for students to exchange ideas and improve their generic skills. Students were given 4 days throughout the collaborative design studio: Day 1 – Students were asked to discuss and brainstorm the importance of public spaces for a set of communities as well as the city centre issues. The collective measures were taken and translated into the design ideas. The team had to produce the introduction and design briefs. On Days 2 & 3- students are required to brief, discuss and design the scheme based on the collective measures. Furthermore, the interim design critique sessions were conducted among both university lecturers and students. On the final day (Day 4), the team finalized and presented their output to the panel of experts from both the VIT VSPARC and the UTM architecture programmes.

On 24th March 2022, the collaborative design studio event was successfully launched by the Director of UTM Architecture Programme, Associate Professor Dr Alice Sabrina Ismail and Director of Architecture Programme, VIT India, Dr Madhumathi A. The short briefing on the design studio project was delivered by Prof Dr Michael Karassowitsch while group allocations were conducted by Associate Professor Dr Sharmila Jagadisan from VSPARC VIT. The ice-breaking session and the discussions between Architecture programme students from VIT and UTM were conducted virtually after the briefing.

Design Critique process by lecturers from VSPARC VIT and Architecture Programme UTM

On 4th April 2022, the Day 1 programme was initiated with a full presentation of the brief by Prof Dr Michael Karassowitsch and Associate Professor Dr Sharmila Jagadisan from VSPARC VIT, followed by lecture sessions by Associate Professor Dr Alice Sabrina Ismail, Director of UTM Architecture Programme and Prof Dr Michael Karassowitsch from VIT. Discussions were conducted in the respective breakout rooms: Team 1 was coordinated by Assoc Prof Dr Alice Sabrina Ismail and Prof Dr Michael Karassowitsch; Team 2 was coordinated by Prof Dr Madhumathi A and Prof Hareesh Haridasan; Team 3 was coordinated by Prof Devi Prasad N and Prof Selva Ziona B while Team 4 by Ts. Dr. Shahariah Norain Binti Shaharuddin from UTM and Assoc Prof Dr Sharmila Jagadisan from VIT. There were five academic staff from UTM Architecture School who contributed to the VIT-UTM collaborative design studio critique sessions: Ts Dr Leng Pau Chung, Dr Tengku Intan Tengku Abdul Aziz, Ar Norshahida Azili, Dr Azalilah Ramdani Musa and Ts Dr Shahariah Norain Shahabudin. The collaborative design studio between VSPARC VIT and UTM Architecture programme came to a fruitful end on Day 4 (9th April 2022) with design presentations from four students groups. The closing remarks were delivered by the Deans of VSPARC VIT, and the Director of the UTM architecture programme.

One of the Design Proposals produced by students  from VSPARC VIT and Architecture Programme UTM

Overall, this collaborative design studio was successfully held whereby all participants from both institutions had been able to learn various new knowledge and concepts from each other as well as both institutions’ lectures. The collaborations are highly encouraged to be held frequently in the near future since the outcomes will definitely bring about various benefits to the stakeholders involved.

For the overview and process of the programme, watch the montage of the programme by VSPARC VIT via YouTube at https://youtu.be/ysOT_Gc2A2E.

Prepared by Ts Dr Leng Pau Chung