Architecture Research and Disciplinarity

Abstract: This paper suggests that architectural research is best understood as a complex and diverse subject area which while adopting a number of disciplinary procedures also maintains a specificity of its own in terms of architectural design. First the paper provides an overview of the current research environment and explores how within the subject of architecture, architectural research adopts a number of disciplinary approaches, resulting in the division of architectural research into, for example, arts and humanities research on the one hand, and building science research on the other. The paper suggests that this compartmentalization of architectural research works against the multi-disciplinary nature of the subject. Architectural design research, or the practice-led component of architectural research, is then examined in more detail and compared to other forms of practice-led research in art and design. Similarities are noted in terms of the creative content of architectural design’s generative processes. However the paper also argues that specific research methods and processes are driven by the practice-led area of activity concerned with the design of buildings situated at the core of the subject. The paper ends by considering how practice-led research in architecture, by relating both to the profession of architecture and to academic research can be critical of disciplinary boundaries and so produce new forms of inter-disciplinary knowledge.

This paper was published as ‘Architectural Research and Disciplinarity’, ARQ, (2004), v. 8, n. 4,  pp. 141-7.

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