Studio Culture at ACD


The statement of studio culture policy reflects the ongoing values embraced by the Architecture Department at King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM). The faculty and students of the Architecture Department at KFUPM promotes creativity, invention, collaboration and implement measures related to health and safety, sustainability, and optimism about the role of design in the larger cultural framework.



North American studio model architectural education greatly influenced the pedagogy of Architecture department at KFUPM. Historically, American Architecture schools followed Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris as the model for architectural education which was predominantly neoclassical and student works were judged by a jury board comprised of professors, guest architects, and clients. Most schools of Architecture still use a jury/final review/criticism system all over the world. All students, faculty, administration and staff of the Department of Architecture at KFUPM is dedicated to the principle that architectural design studios are the central component of Architecture education. Students and faculty members are equally dedicated to using time wisely i.e. time outside the design studio, to gain experience from all aspects of university education and the world. Besides design is an integration of many parts and processes to create a product. The act of design and professional practice is inherently interdisciplinary, requiring active and respectful collaboration with others. Therefore, the studio as a creative space is an essential aspect of architectural education whereas the effective operational procedure of architectural design studios are vital and agreed upon amongst the students, faculty and administrations.



Followings are considered as essential components of Architecture studios at KFUPM:
  • Studio pedagogy: The Architecture department at KFUPM believes in and supports the pedagogical benefits and purpose of the studio teaching method: problem-based learning, andlearning by doing
  • Studio open space: The inherent flexibility of the traditional studio open space in KFUPM promotes interaction between students and faculty, as well as the opportunity for students to share in, learn from, and contribute to each other's work.
  • Studio culture: The predominating attitudes and behavior of the architectural community at KFUPM (Architecture students, faculties, administration, and staff) in the studio context.
  • Studio extensions: Extension of the traditional Architecture studio space includes modelling shop facilities, modelling workshop room, library, computer labs, review/jury, and exhibition spaces.



  • The Department of Architecture at KFUPM believes in and supports the value of the design studio model. Studio learning encourages dialogue, collaboration, innovation, and "learning by doing" pedagogy. Students and faculty in every design studio embody the fundamental values of optimism, respect, sharing, engagement, and innovation. Every design studio, therefore, encourages the rigorous exploration of ideas, diverse viewpoints, and the integration of all aspects of Architecture (practical, theoretical, scientific, spiritual, and artistic), by providing a safe and supportive environment for thoughtful innovation.
  • Design studios establish opportunities for timely and effective review of both processes and products. Studio reviews will include student and faculty peer reviews. Where external reviewers are introduced, the design studio instructor ensures that the visitors are aware of the studio culture statement and recognize that rigorous design critique is an integral part of the learning experience, which should not be taken personally. The Architecture design studio is a place for open communication and movement while respecting the needs and caring for others. Studios are considered to have a professional working environment in which students and faculty work together to ask questions, identify contemporary and emerging issues, and make proposals that explore architectural concepts and ideas. These are further developed through criticism and discussion among colleagues, faculty, and visitors. Studio learning offers both intensive one-on-one as well as collaborative instruction that develops the student's critical thinking skills and spatial and material sensibilities. Studio setup offers a synthetic form of education where project-based learning becomes the foundation for developing an understanding of and commitment to Architecture's fundamental mission — to improve the quality of our built and natural environments.



The spatial type of our studio spaces is one continuous and open space. This spatial type is meant to encourage both formal and informal learning opportunities for our students across all studios. In this space, there are both individual workstations and group gathering spaces. Each student is assigned his workstation organized in immediate proximity to the other students in their studio section. The group gathering spaces are distributed throughout the studio and can be used by any group or student at any time. The annexes of studio spaces that are not open at all times are the Computer lab, Model Workshop with laser cutting facilities and library. After working hours, these facilities can only be accessed with prior permission and arrangement of the Chairman of the department/when a faculty member or a student monitor is present.



The Architecture department acknowledges the value of design intention/concept, process and product. The department encourages students to understand studio-based learning as a unique and valuable pedagogical model. The desk critique, or "crit," is a traditionally unique component of the design studio, where one-on-one dialogue between the student and studio instructor operates as a form of critical feedback on both the student's process and product. The studio instructor may often suggest revisions that he feels will help solve a particular aspect of a design problem. As a follow-up to the desk crit, the student is generally expected to more fully explore and test these options and suggestions by revisiting his solution. This iterative process of revisiting and revising alternative solutions is generally considered to be essential and fundamental to the design process. The studio instructor will critique the quality of the student's process of investigation and ability to reflect upon his or her own processes of design, as well as the student's ability to employ a variety of design strategies and thought processes. Faculty may employ this method of teaching in different ways, some on a daily basis, and some more occasionally in deference to more general group discussions: however, a general rule is that a student not present in studio during studio hours will not receive feedback.

  • Design studio reviews/juries and critiques are essential elements of studio pedagogy, enabling and promoting interaction between students, faculty, and visiting critics. Reviews are both a means of assessing student work and an opportunity to facilitate discussion of greater issues and concerns relevant to the discipline. They should be seen as a unique learning experience in which architectural knowledge and experience is disseminated and exchanged — not just individual feedback. Public presentation and exhibition of design studio work is essential to studio pedagogy and vital to the development of effective verbal communication skills.
  • There are three types of reviews: working, preliminary, and final. Working reviews are more informal, where the studio critic and student/s meet to review and discuss work in process. With preliminary and final reviews, the student's more developed or final work is discussed and evaluated in open sessions that often include visiting critics. Students make brief oral presentations before the work is discussed. Occasionally there are closed reviews, where students' work is evaluated by the critics and subsequently discussed in an open setting. Students and faculty alike are expected to arrive on time and remain engaged as active participants throughout the review process. The use of cell phones during reviews is strongly discouraged. Students should be prepared to both clearly and coherently present their own work and discuss the work of others in the studio. Instructors are responsible for informing the invited outside reviewers about project expectations and for advancing the school's commitment to a respectful studio culture that is consistent with the Studio Culture Policy. The department supports thoughtful and respectful dialogue, debate, and discussion during all reviews and presentations, and strongly discourages gratuitous personal criticism.
  • Unlike the majority of students throughout the university who finish the semester with scheduled final exams, the culmination of the Architecture student's semester is the Final Review, a public event where faculty and invited external-to-the-studio critics discuss and critique final projects. Students are required to participate for the entire review and are encouraged to contribute comments. The Final Review period occurs at the end of every semester and is coordinated so as not to conflict with final exams. Work by every studio level is presented. Students are highly encouraged to attend all levels of Final Reviews to enrich their learning experience.
  • The Architecture department encourages grading for studio classes that affirms the values of respect for a student's ideas, the development of these ideas, and the ability to make ideas spatial and material (i.e., design product). Grades are a measure of a student's overall performance in studio. Criticism, advising, and counseling are considered integral to a student's studio evaluation. Students should consider the design process as a learning experience that is equally as important as the final grade itself. Students should ensure academic integrity and proper citation of work when submitting projects.



  • Time management is essential to an effective learning and professional working environment. The Architecture department supports its students and faculty in leading healthy, punctual, and appropriately scheduled lifestyle whereby everyone help for each other's well-being. Each student works differently but should strive to work intelligently and efficiently, not unnecessarily spend longer hours in studios. Students are expected to be present during the entire studio period. Although studios are open 24 hours, working late should neither be a norm nor be an indication of productivity of good design.
  • Classes: The department values and gives equal importance to all of the classes in its curriculum. Therefore, students are encouraged to distribute their efforts appropriately to all academic courses.
  • Coordination: Through Year Studio Coordinator, the department makes every effort to avoid conflicting deadlines for required Architecture classes within any given year cohort. Deadlines for Architecture electives and out of department classes must be handled and anticipated by the student on an individual basis.



The Architecture Department asks that our studio culture embrace a holistic approach to studio ecology. We ask for restraint in using materials that are unsustainable, the recycling of (ideally all) materials for the future reuse by others, and an exchange of relevant information within the studio about material issues.



  • Because the Architecture studio space is an open space of interaction, and it is imperative for all students, faculty, staff and guests to behave with the utmost respect for each other.
  • Members of the Architecture Department community come from diverse backgrounds, geographical locations and cultural foundations, and the studio space is a place for diverse opinions and design solutions to be shared as an essential core of our Studio Culture Policy.
  • In studio culture, we believe collaboration uplifts competition. Students and faculty maintain an atmosphere of mutual respect for and interest in each other’s ideas. Our work will always benefit from conversations with colleagues about shared themes, precedents and resources. Even in a portable, digital age, it is an essential requirement that architectural design and the process happens in the studio.
  • Working in studio moves beyond logistics, nurturing studio culture and fostering the collaborative atmosphere that we most value. At the same time, care for our working environment is an essential part of our architectural design ethic.



  • The intensity, energy and exhilaration of the design studio is why we are here. Yet creativity demands balance. Efficiency, responsibility and health are equally essential components of effective Architecture studio work, and are valued by our design culture. Student will not be effective in their own work or in collaboration with others if they regularly work beyond their reasonable limits.
  • An important feature of attending the School of Architecture is workload management. Due to the subjective nature of the design and critical thinking processes, it is often tempting to continue to strive for a better design solution or critical concept in lieu of the one correct answer that may exist in more quantitative disciplines.
  • However, a proper balance of the time a student spends in studio must be in balance with work for other courses and the appropriate social interaction we encourage for all of our students outside of studio.
  • There will always be exceptional moments in a semester where the necessary production expectations will suggest that the students work long hours in studio, this should be the exception not the regular habit.
  • Although the Architecture studio is open 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, this should not imply that the expectation is that student need to be in the studio beyond normal working hours. In fact, it is strongly encouraged for students to develop a good work/life balance.
  • It is expected that all students, faculty and staff work towards maintaining a clean and safe studio space. This means that all trash and recyclable material will be properly disposed of in the proper receptacle. [For detail instruction on this please refer to Architecture Department Safety Policy]
  • Food consumption is prohibited in the studios, so that these areas can remain clean, so no work or equipment is damaged, and so we do not attract any unwanted fauna. Of particular importance is the proper use and disposal of sharp cutting blades. These must be disposed of in the blade containers inside trash bins throughout the studio space. [For detail instruction please refer to Architecture Department Safety Policy]
  • Architectural physical model making is prohibited in the studio space. Physical model should be made in the Model Workshop (ground floor, bldg. 19) and designated space (room in the 3rd floor, bldg. 19) allocated by the College of Environmental Design.
  • Additionally, conduct a thorough cleanout of the studio each week by the genitors, so any material that is left on the floor will be discarded. If any student, faculty of staff member identifies damaged or dysfunctional facilities, including workstation desks or chairs, dividing partitions, electrical outlets, laser cutter equipment, or other studio artifacts, please notify your studio teacher, staff member, Chairman or Dean of the issue. [For detail instruction on this please refer to Architecture Safety Policy]
  • The University does not permit or condone the possession, use, consumption, sale, or distribution of illegal drugs by students or employees on its property or as part of its activities.
  • Cigarette, electronic cigarette and shisha are prohibited in the studios and classrooms. Students who violate these policies will be subject to appropriate disciplinary action consistent with local, state law, and KFUPM policy. [Please refer to Architecture Safety Policy]