Date of this Version
Published in Technology| Architecture + Design, 1:1 (2017), pp. 112-113.
Review of Ray Lucas, Research Methods for Architecture (Laurence King, 2016).
Renewed interest in integrating research into design is apparent when we look at books published on the topic in recent years. The go-to textbook for more than a decade, Linda Groat and David Wang’s Architectural Research Methods was revised and expanded in a recent second edition (2013), reflecting such interest. The most important area of update is on the relationship between design and research. In particular, it explores research by design, that is, generating new knowledge using design as a method, as do a number of other publications. Among them are Design Innovation for the Built Environment: Research by Design and the Renovation of Practice (2012), edited by Michael U. Hensel, and Design Research in Architecture: An Overview (2013), edited by Murray Fraser. The former is a collection of pieces written by architects, designers, and thinkers from the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Japan, and Europe. It offers an emerging understanding that design and research have a shared purpose that is projective in nature and presents research by design as a way for design practice to engage in the production of new knowledge. The latter brings together writings by researchers, practitioners, and educators, many of whom are associated with the Bartlett School of Architecture at the University College London. It serves also as an overview of a book series of the same title, which showcases a variety of projects that take design as a form of inquiry. To those who are accustomed to regarding design as an activity whose end product is a discrete object, it is a revelation to consider the widening possibilities of what design may accomplish. In the background of these publications are an increasing number of professionals who are involved in research as a part of their practice, either within a professional office or in collaboration with academic or research institutions. As the Bartlett and other schools such as the Harvard Graduate School of Design launch new academic degrees in design research, other schools are adopting design research into curriculum, in studios and in lecture/ seminar courses, including my own institution. There even is a pedagogical debate between proponents of design theses and those of research studios, as David Salomon has outlined in his “Experimental Cultures: On the ‘End’ of the Design Thesis and the Rise of the Research Studio” in the Journal of Architectural Education.