NTNU has a long tradition of students undertaking Live Projects. Many schools of architecture do. What sets our projects apart is that a big number are initiated, organised and managed by the students themselves. These initiatives are made possible with support from the university, and a focus on live aspects through the education. Already the first semester, architecture students at NTNU have to design and built a 1:1 timber construction.
NTNU’s Live Projects have varied from small traditionally crafted Norwegian boathouses, to larger scale community development based projects in Latin America, Africa and Asia. Students employ a context-based design approach whereby they have to work closely with local municipalities, professionals, grassroots organisations and other stakeholders. It’s this collaborative focus that truly allows the projects to take flight.
In recent years, students have shown a soaring interest in Live Projects, be they independent, part of self-initiated curricular course or a curricular course that focuses on building. This confronts NTNU with the challenge of responding to their enthusiasm in a way that acknowledges their contribution, but also generates academic returns. The institution must be able to be responsible for the students’ learning, well-being and the quality of the projects, yet at the same time, give them independence and entrust them with full social and professional responsibility.
A dual organisational model with a Faculty HUB cooperating closely with the Student HUB, “Studio Beta”, has been developed and come to form NTNU Live Studio. The dual approach is to ensure the balance between student independence, professional ownership and the necessary monitoring by the institution. NTNU Live Studio is a platform from which students find support and encouragement for Live Projects, from which they discover or learn, on their own terms, what architecture is, or does, and what becoming an architect is about.