Research Information

PhD Seminar (under development). Architecture: (Re)Searching the Discipline

The central question in this PhD-seminar will revolve around the status of architectural research, and how architectural knowledge is acquired, accumulated and analyzed.

The notion of research can encompass many different undertones, ranging from the more clearly defined and often quantitative approaches of the natural sciences to the discursive methods of history and the humanities. Although there is often a solid core of research approaches to be found within individual schools of architecture, there seems to be fairly little consensus on research methods or on the ‘scientific’ quality of architecture.Moreover, PhD research in architecture is a fairly recent phenomenon (depending on the source, this can be placed at the beginning of the 20th century, to just since the postwar era.

In this seminar, the current status of research in architecture and its historical outlines over the last century and a half will be discussed. Using a number of the topics from the research portfolio of the Department of Architecture, each session will focus on the specific approaches and methodological questions inherent in the topic at hand. The types of writing and drawing that may accompany or emphasize specific methodological approaches will also be discussed in depth.

Within this overarching question, a number of specific issues will be given special attention. Among these are the relation between theory and practice, which has been identified as one of the key qualities of architectural research in a recent report by the KNAW on specific research-indicators in non-traditional fields of scientific inquiry. In addition, we will dwell on the question of ‘research by design’ (the phrase typically used in Delft) or ‘design-led research’ (the phrase more present in the English debate) and the (im)possibility of performing design as an act of research, or framing design within the parameters of scientific research. The notoriously difficult question of argumentation and methodology within the fields of the discursive sciences will also receive due attention.

In each session, a brief presentation will be given by a faculty member outlining the topic of their research, while focusing more specifically on their research approach and the methods they have used. Directly following, a presentation will be given by a PhD researcher along the same lines: topic and method. The rest of the seminar will be devoted to discussing the two presentations and framing the topic at hand in a more general historical continuum.

The seminars will be structured according to the categories of the research program, ‘The Architectural Project’ and ‘Foundations’, with topics such as: Historiography;  Typomorphological approaches; Critical analysis of texts and objects;  Drawings, representation and digital technologies; Methodologies and design legitimization; Design practice as research; Journals and mediation; Sustainable design approaches and models; Design approaches and scientific authority; Urban density and demographics.