For students studying in the AEC industries, there is often a disconnect between the constructed environment as discussed in academic circles and what is found in built reality. From understanding structures as mere drawings to seeing adaptive reuse as simply exercises in aesthetics, students rarely have the opportunity to contextualize their classroom learning with what is found in the buildings surrounding them. It is as though it would benefit students in having an educator at their fingertips to draw such relationships to their built environment. Leveraging Toronto’s recent architectural renaissance, the ubiquity of mobile computing, and current trends in Web 2.0 content creation, the Arch-App simultaneously brings students in Canada’s largest architecture program out of the classroom and into the built environment while also creating an expanding database of building information accessible by academics, professionals, and the general public. As mobile computing devices (such as smart phones and tablet computers) saturate the market, information is readily accessible. Unfortunately current conventional infrastructure does not provide the most pertinent information on the constructed environment. The Arch-App allows students to access historical imagery and text, structural information, design sketches, orthographic imagery, videos, and interviews with the project team all within the palm of their hands in their mobile computing device. More importantly assignments issued in classes ranging from Structures and Detailing to Digital Media and History demand that students contribute content to the Arch-App, thereby vigilantly maintaining content currency. The layering of “virtual” datasets atop an augmented reality interface further blurs the line between academic rhetoric and the “real” built environment. The adoption of the Arch-App has been met with a great deal of success as it has improved student engagement, course integration, and systems thinking.
|Keywords:||Augmented Reality, Architecture Pedagogy, Ubiquitous Computing|
Assistant Professor, Department of Architectural Science, Ryerson University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada