Architecture schools are embracing a new model of instruction that encourages students to step out of the studio and work with their local communities, particularly among populations and in areas unable to afford professional architecture services.  Such community architecture programs focus on the sustainability aspects of design, asking students to consider whether the impetus for a project is a well-defined, existing need or merely an exciting, yet ultimately unnecessary, design; how to modernize existing buildings; and how to maintain building system efficiency after a project’s completion.

Community architecture programs are a variation on the design/build model in which students develop designs in consultation with clients and then provide the hands-on labor to turn their own plans into reality. It’s a notable departure from old-school architectural programs where students spend their lives in studio classrooms drafting and building models, and are evaluated on aesthetics, rather than considerations like livability and sustainability.” Hopkins, Isa. “Architecture for the People, by the People.” Grist. 29 Aug. 2014. Web. 04 Sept. 2014.

What do you think of the movement to intertwine architecture education with public service?  Is it a valuable exercise that prepares students for careers in the industry?  Is there any concern that too much of students’ time and attention is being diverted from the traditional, studio-focused model of architecture education?