B. Processes and methodologies

[Aulikki Herneoja - Julian Keppl - Ferran Sagarra - Susanne Komossa]

General aims of article 7**:
Sketching the broad of the field.
The broad of the field implies an open minded attitude towards assessment of specifically proposed methods.
It should adress the specifity of architectural research.
Many students are not yet introduced into the enormous amount of possibilities of all the existing and possible enrichment through architectural research methods and processes. (One of which is research by design).
Although architectural research can fall back on a myriad of existing, approved, accepted, reliable research methods and techniques, the charter should be fully open towards new approaches, and welcome, even encourage each quest for appropriate ways to research, for developing new methods, processes and tools, and ways to communicate (to communicate on the method, the process, and the result)
It should make clear that architectural research is properly assessable as ‘scientific’ research.

version 2 February 2011

The process of architectural research can be described as the ordered set of activities focused on the systematic collection of information using accepted and experimental methods of analysis as a basis for drawing conclusions and making recommendations. It can be summarized as a research life cycle, through which the research proceeds stage by stage. The research process is composed of important stages starting from the very beginning ‘initiation’ stage until reaching the targeted ‘the research outcome’.

Architecture by nature is a design practice related discipline. Processes and methodologies of architectural design are fundamental in architectural research in addition to using and combining methods from other disciplines. Common to all processes and methodologies used in architectural research is that they are clearly stated, assessable and relevant to the research setup. Architectural research is inter- or trans-disciplinary by nature considering architecture’s quality as craft and art. Combination of existing strategies is common and allows innovative results.

On one-hand architectural research addresses the context of architectural design related to the field of architectural history, theory and critique. On the other hand the design practice, its research & design methods and tools applied during the design process are objectives of investigation. Therefore all products that produce a clear link between research and design, may it be research-by-design, research-led design working with designing alternatives, typological & morphological studies that clarify the relationship between research and design form the core of architectural research.
Architectural research follows scientific standards in the sense that its results can be assessed based on the clear selection of its materials & methods, manners of documentation and description and finally proper interpretation and rendering information contained in text, drawings and models. As such it is useful to designers in practice and teaching and society at the same time.

Due to the interdisciplinary, or trans-disciplinary, nature of Research in Architecture, depending on the main aim, purpose, type and content, methodologies and instruments that are utilized by different disciplines are/can be employed in the research, among which some come forward:

Related to the context of the architectural discipline and architectural design practice:
- Interpretative-Historical Research including research that addresses the foundations of the discipline such as treatises
- Case Studies & Plan analysis of precedents (including) descriptive research
- Typology, Morphology and Typo-morphology as means of analyzing architectural models and rules whereby the relationship between building and (public) space and its various uses is described and ordered, outlining a design practice that emerges from study.
- Action Research, such as Participatory Research
- Investigations of architectural space and form within a multi- and trans-disciplinary framework, discussing the similarities and differences among disciplines, such as urbanism, geography, art, technology, and philosophy.
- Development of architectural form as an object situated within the spatial conditions of the (urban) territory;
- Employment and testing of different, trans-disciplinary means in order to conduct experimentation in architectural design;
- Development of specific methodologies and instruments informing the architectural design like surveys, maps & mapping, field studies and experimental research.


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