Stephanie Liddicoat graduated with a Master of Architecture from Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand, with her final thesis examining the design of environments for mental health. Her current doctoral research thesis examines mental health service user spatial perceptions and experience of built space. This piqued her interest in narratives in architecture and built environments, and how engagements with architectural space are where stories unfold. She uses poetry, narrative and fictocriticism to inspire and direct her teaching and design practice.

The role of poetry in teaching architectural design

Poetry as creative practice has powerful abilities to affect change, and is a potential source for alternative knowledge, new awareness, dissemination and critical reflection. This paper challenges the liminal position of poetry and prose fiction in architectural design education. The key focus is a consideration of the role of poetry and prose fiction within the architectural design studio context, whereby its writing is harnessed for its transformative potential, enabling students of architecture to better envision, develop and communicate their designs. Architects pursue parallel aims of user experience and functional outcomes when they design, yet achieving this balance is often a struggle for students.  This paper developed from observations by the author, using a method of poetry and prose fiction to foster the students’ abilities to critically engage, produce and reflect. The design activities employed are discussed and a series of examples from studio work used to illustrate the learning development and outcomes. A discussion of the significance of poetry to architectural students follows this, concluding with recommendations for teaching and practice.