A Way with Words: Feminists Writing Architectural Design Research

Architecture could be defined as a subject that operates using a number of different disciplinary research methodologies, four in particular: those of science in the building sciences area, those of the social sciences and the humanities in the study of buildings in terms of culture and society, history and theory, and those of practice-led research in architectural design. To date (and rather bizarrely given that the core activity of architecture is the design of buildings) the most dominant academic modes of research have been science and humanities-based, and work in both these areas has often been conducted in ways that is rather self-contained and which often follows accepted and long-standing methodologies.[1]  This situation has changed recently though, slowly at first, and now rather more rapidly, such that design or practice-led research is coming to be recognized as one of architecture’s core research activities, and at the same time, different strands of architectural research are talking to each other and starting to loosen their historic methodological attachments.

This essay explores feminist critical spatial practice and writing as one of those different strands of architectural research.

[1] For a more detailed discussion of architectural design research related to the UK’s RAE 2008, see Jane Rendell, ‘Architectural Research and Disciplinarity’, ARQ, (2004), v. 8, n. 2, pp. 141–7. See also Jane Rendell, ‘Architecture and Interdisciplinarity: Modes of Operation’, Building Material, Journal of the Architectural Association of Ireland (2010) and Jane Rendell, ‘The Transitional Space of Interdisciplinarity’, in Daniel Hinchcliffe, Jane Calow and Laura Mansfield (eds), Speculative Strategies In Interdisciplinary Arts Practice, (forthcoming 2012).


Jane Rendell, ‘A Way with Words: Feminists Writing Architectural Design Research’, Murray Fraser (ed) Architectural Design Research (London: Ashgate, 2013).

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