This weeks article will be looking at how collaboration between industry and universities can help towards educational recognition of architectural excellence. Are we doing enough to recognise the achievements of our students in the UK? If you or we are then great but if not then are there any lessons to be learnt from comparative countries or systems. Part of the focus this week will be to look at what I feel is a good example of what can be achieved if a group of individuals work together to achieve a defined set goal, the newly established Tamayouz Award.
Iraqi Academics in collaboration with the Tamayouz award committee are attempting to improve and publicise architectural excellence within Iraqi education through their ‘Excellence in Graduation Projects’ award. A further award titled ‘Women in Architecture and Construction’ was set up to recognise the contributions of women within architecture. The goal as outlined by the Tamayouz Award team is to achieve improvements within these areas within Iraq through the creation of the Tamayouz Awards by recognising and highlighting the success and achievements of students and academic institutions within Iraq.
The award was set up on the foundation of a volunteer system in which all parties in-putted their efforts for no fees! This to me is possibly one of the biggest stand out points about this project is the fact that so many people are putting in their own time to help push forward the drive. As an academic myself I know that a lot of the work that needs to be put into any job, whether that be to help students achieve the best they can or whether that means hitting an industry/commercial deadline goes far beyond that of the 9-5 job remit. As many academics and all collaborative teams for that matter probably know is that to achieve goals as a team you often need to go beyond that of the normal job remit.
Additional to the first two awards that run last year a further award has been created by Tamayouz to recognise ‘Design Excellence – (in the) UK’. Similar to the Iraq award is has been set up to recognise design excellence within education, only this time based in the UK. This year it has been run at Coventry University.
Within the UK a similar ethos is being taken in regards to improving the knowledge base and practice in regards to BIM in education and industry. Many of the parties involved are attempting to drive forward a culture change within the construction sector on a voluntary basis. In my eyes I guess the message is that sometimes it’s not technology, cultural setting or processes that drive forward new changes and innovations. Instead it’s more about the people behind the drive that are important, whether the target is gaining recognition for architectural education excellence within Iraq or whether it be a Construction industry or academic culture change in regards to teaching architecture and construction. The people are what matters! Within any effort certain bridges need to be surpassed to achieve the goals set out and many of the obstacles are ‘people’ obstacle rather than systems. Now I don’t want to sound too preachy but I feel that if collaboration and openness is improved on a people level between all parties whether that is an award programme or an industry level project then it will benefit both academia as well as industry in the long run. This ethos in my eyes is a reflection of what changes need to happen within the UK construction and education sector where more practices way towards people level collaboration between integrated teams.
I’d like to return the focus now back to the first award of ‘Excellence in Graduation Projects’ in Iraq and outline how I feel we can learn some lessons from it in certain aspects. I know we have certain awards from the professional accreditation bodies within the UK which are a great way to encourage students to push their work to the limits of their ability and beyond. What I think we can learn from the above award however is that it doesn’t have to be discipline specific, the Tamayouz award is open to a vast array of students in Iraq. One other aspect which I commend is the level of collaboration that has been achieved to establish the award; there are quite simply too many people to individually name within this article. However, if you take a look at the images below you will be able to see the level of collaboration from a multitude of sectors that took place. (You may notice that my name is on there but please ignore this as I was a late arrival who simply gave a couple of opinions on a single document of award criteria, hence how I came across the award. I was not part of any founding team who made the awards work!)
The award has some big headline names involved in judging from Architects such as Dame Zaha Hadid (DBE) and Angela Brady the President of the RIBA right the way through to Iraqi and UK based top academics and industry representatives. Along with these larger faces is a large collaborative team which after speaking to the founder of the awards, Ahmed Salah, he says they made the award possible. I know this is often said in post reference to large projects that all the cogs make the system work but I feel it is something that needs to be highlighted as the focus I’m trying to establish is on collaboration to achieve success.
The main lesson I feel we in the UK could learn would be the collaboration processes between multiple sectors to gain recognition for excellence. Could we create more opportunities like this one within the UK, additional to the already valuable professional body awards looking at recognising multi-discipline projects? I’ve recently been involved in discussions within the BIM circles of education, most notably the BIM Academic Forum (BAF) which is attempting to replicate the ethos of collaborative BIM people/working processes by working together as a team to push forward BIM in education. One idea is to create a nationwide award to recognise the achievements of student’s use of BIM within their projects. With the ethos of collaboration at the heart of the award, and I don’t just mean the students projects, I’m also referring to the infrastructure behind award. Could we not have more awards similar to this with the UK education sector, driven by the drive of collaborative teams and educational institutes? I know this would take a leap of collaboration between universities which I know that in pockets does take place, overall though I feel that the gains would be great for students as well as academia and industry.