Welcome to the International Studio of Architecture!

3/10/2006 9:38:26 AM

The before and after of a commercial renovation/retrofit project. The Central Fire Hall in St. John's was redesigned by a Master of Architecture student in Indonesia.

Students of College of the North Atlantic’s (CNA) Architectural Engineering Technology (AET) program have embarked on a unique international project, piloting a distance learning program with the University of Gadjah Mada in Indonesia and Indiana University/Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) in the United States.

The group has created The International Studio of Architecture (ISA) – a virtual studio that gives students the opportunity to learn about different characteristics on the building construction of architecture in their own and each other’s countries.

Students and faculty are exposed to construction methods, architectural aesthetics and building code requirements used to construct a small residential project in each of the three countries; they also serve as teachers/mentors to each other and dispense knowledge thought a bi-directional international dialogue – all via their website and other technology.

Cluny Way, Coordinating Instructor for CNA’s AET program at Ridge Road campus, says the idea was hatched by he and Dr. Jan Cowan of IUPUI in May of 2004. A pilot involving all three institutions with the architectural discipline was launched by the following August.

“The initial collaboration involved the design of several residential projects,” says Way. “And students were given the preliminary requirements of fictitious clients located in each of the participating countries.”

He explains that later, real building sites were selected in each country with site plans and relevant photographs shared by students through a dedicated web site, video conferences, and emails.

“Schematic design work began in both Indonesia and the United States on projects located in each of the three countries. Extensive information exchanges began once again, as students sought points of clarification… Approximately one month later the Indonesian and American preliminary designs were forwarded to the Architectural Engineering Technology students at CNA,” reveals Way.

“From these designs, our students developed very detailed technical design contract documents which they completed as a requirement of their DR3100 course.”

The initial trial run was so successful that a similar initiative was launched in the winter semester of 2005. This pilot involved the renovation/redesign of three commercial buildings, one located in Indonesia, one in the United States, and the other in Canada. Once again, the project was viewed as a success by all participants.

“These endeavours have proven to be invaluable to the Architectural Engineering Technology program at CNA,” says Way.

“Besides providing an opportunity to inform architects from other countries of the benefits of Canadian construction techniques, students learn about working as a team player within an educational program and on a global level, and gain exposure to construction techniques found in other countries,” Way explains.

The students’ experience at CNA is further enhanced through this initiative, not only because of the deeper understanding of cultural sensitivities they will gain, but for the invaluable networking and employment opportunities.

“The growth potential in partnering students from education programs throughout the world is virtually endless,” says Way. “The prospect of graduates beginning their careers with the ability to work internationally from any geographical location holds tremendous cultural and economic benefits for all parties involved.”

Deborah Yabsley is a 3rd Year Architectural Engineering Technology student. She says the international initiative brought together distinctive personalities with varying opinions from different countries – all with one focus.

“Our objective was to provide a complete product of appearance, design layout, and working drawings for a ‘potential’ client,” says Yabsley. “This afforded us an insight into the possibilities in working in an environment where we could be based wherever we wished to be and work worldwide without leaving home.”

And of course, CNA benefits largely, says instructor Way.

“Being a pioneer in this type of international student-centred program will serve to further improve the position of the college as a leader in education at the international level.”

The improved linkages between students and institutions are in keeping with CNA’s mandate to expand its reach throughout the globe and to partner with peer institutions and private industry.

Spin-offs may include the development of new educational modules by each institution, the possible introduction of real building projects to be constructed in each of the participating countries, and the expansion of the initiative to other projects, says Way.

“This sort of approach has actually already begun with our current project. It involves the design of a senior citizen’s complex planning to be actually built in St. Lucia in the Caribbean,” he says.

John Oates, campus administrator for Ridge Road campus, says the international project is very exciting for all involved.

“It certainly highlights the exceptional quality of our programs, our students, and especially our faculty,” says Oates.

“The recognition and respect afforded by our partners in Indonesia and the United States is certainly impressive and acknowledges that we truly are a world leader in technology training. I couldn’t be more pleased or more proud!”

The success of this project has been mainly the result of the enthusiasm and in-kind contributions by AET students and faculty, coupled with the support of college administration and technical support staff, says Way.

“From the evening video conference necessary to accommodate the time zone differences, to the late evening project meetings, they have all helped make this a success.”


For more information contact:

Stephen Lee
Communications Manager
709. 227-6283


Tanya Alexander
Public Information Officer
709. 643.7928