Study title
Design Research in Architecture
Ref study 12908
Study language English
Contributing institutions
  • Architecture
  • Design Research
  • Academisation
  • Epistemic cultures
Geographical space
In recent years, the role and character of research, its definition and evaluation has come into discussion within the academic field of architecture. This trend stands in a close relation to the economization, politicization and harmonization of higher education, described as ‘new governance of science’ (Braun & Merrien 1999), bringing about an increased research orientation within skill-oriented and practice-based disciplines. As a core skill of architecture, design particularly came into focus of such discussions. Against this background, the proposed project intends to examine selected leading architecture departments in different national and educational contexts (at universities in Scandinavia, Germany and Australia), each with a focus on and a distinct understanding of architectural research. It aims at studying how these framings shape the education of architects and everyday practices of architecture as epistemic culture (Knorr Cetina 1999). For this analysis, a qualitative ethnographic study, situated at the intersection of sociology of architecture and science and technology studies (STS) will be applied. This conduct will be based on approaches of laboratory studies (e.g. Latour & Woolgar 1979) and draw on the concept of epistemic cultures as developed by Knorr Cetina (1999). The project will start with a discourse ethnographic inventory (Keller 2011b; Knoblauch 2002) of documents relating to architectural research as produced by the analysed departments, that is, research publications of various kinds, PhD theses as well as documents concerning guiding principles, training concepts, and PhD programmes. Building on this, fieldwork will consist of ‘active interviews’ (Holstein & Gubrium 2004) with teaching assistants, professors and heads of departments regarding their research and the ways research is instituted within education. In addition, focused participant observations (Knoblauch 2005) will be conducted in selected design classes at the analysed institutions. Research and education in skill-oriented fields such as architecture is different from that of traditional ‘hard science’ research disciplines as regards the empirical, ontological and social dimension of knowledge production. Hence, an increased research orientation produces a variety of ambivalences and irritations within the academic field of architecture (Geiser 2008; Gerber et al. 2010; Gisler & Kurath 2015). The proposed project aims at investigating these tensions in order to contribute to better understand the specificities of genuine architectural research (Ammon & Froschauer 2013; Hauser, et al. 2011; Müller & Reichmann 2015). The proposed project follows three major goals:
1. Analysing the understanding and practice of architectural research as conducted by the faculty at six selected architecture departments in Scandinavia, Germany and Australia.
2. Studying the ways architectural design is taught at the different departments.
3. Comparing the selected departments – not only among themselves, but also to the departments analysed within the responsible applicant’s two ongoing research projects (as will be mentioned below) – with regard to similarities and differences in their understanding, practice and teaching of architectural design.
Methods (description)
Methods (instruments)
Replicated study No
Financed by
Ethical approval No
Study type
Data availability
Source (Updates) SNSF
Date created 30.08.2017
Date modified 30.08.2017
Start - End date 01.06.2017 - 31.05.2021