Most architecture students study buildings by way of text, image, graphic representation and the like—that is: things in the two-dimension. Our studies come yet slightly more alive through the experience of lecture, where we absorb content through oral accounts of the real, accounts from people who have perhaps themselves been to a particular building or place being described. It is only in studio that our studies begin to lift off from the page and into the three-dimensional, and even then, we are limited to smaller scales, mock-ups of form, copies of the real. As students of architecture, we have come to discover first hand, that the study and practice of our field is quite separate—even abstracted—from the thing itself.
Against the dominant model of architectural study, The Path of Kahn—a collection of students plus professor from Taubman College of Architecture & Urban Planning—chose to first travel, experience, explore and understand buildings in real time. With an initial mission to seek and see and a post-travel mission to study, reflect, and make sense of the experiences collected, we effectively flipped architectural study on its head. Equipped with fresh eyes and an eagerness to absorb, our group arrived abroad where the Path began, with entirely unbiased and open-minded approaches to the architecture. This model enabled us to cover a surprisingly vast amount of ground while placing an extensive catalogue of buildings under our belts. In committing ourselves to the travel method of study—the method of experience—our course evolved into a month-long sequence of discovery, full of more unexpected opportunity and insight than any of us could have anticipated.