Inventing New Modes of Dissemination
Applied Preservation and Cultural Heritage Pedagogy in Interdisciplinary Studios
When we shift the word practice from noun to verb, practice turns into testing, experimenting with what is at hand. If we then apply this performative approach to the practice of teaching preservation and cultural heritage in a design studio setting, what would be the consequences? What would happen if we consider teaching as a practice of research and, consequently, of research as experimentation in a field that inherently resists innovation of practice? Two professors, one from architecture, the other from interior design, offer preliminary answers to these questions while also laying out a model for a new critical pedagogy built on an interdisciplinary practice of teaching in which students from architecture, interior design, and landscape architectrue have to address their own position within the context of a new studio while confronting a new language, i.e. that of the other discipline. In this study we analyze two interdisciplinary studios we co-taught in 2017 and 2018 as case studies for applied history and the production of culture through our collaboration with the US Department of State's Overseas Building Operations office in Cultural Heritage. In these research-based, interdisciplinary design studios we were tasked by the State Department to develop new methodologies of documenting and disseminating via websites information about two historic properties abroad, the Winfield House (London) and the Villa Petschek (Prague), both historically significant American Ambassadors' Residences. Our work resulted in a body of research that emerged out of applied onsite field work combined with analytic methods, archival investigations, and interdisciplinary communication to create a holistic understanding of the role historic properties abroad can play in the production of culture within an academic environment that is linked through current technology to society at large.