Research Toward a Discipline

In the field of architecture, the basic, underlying concepts and knowledge that are obtained from research endeavors are different than the typical dominating fields of research. Because the built environment exerts influence on a full range of human activities, research in architecture is a little bit of everything, yet is independent in its own way.

In a scientific community, to put it in its simplest terms, research is providing new knowledge to solve problems. That knowledge obtained should be valid, reliable, and generalizable. The researcher’s methods, including the collection, measurement, and analysis of data, are highly structured and require rigorous standards in order to make certain that the results of a study essentially qualify as truth.

However, compared to the scientific community, for the community of designers, which architects are considered a part of, this form of research-based knowledge is gained from experience more than a discovery of a fact. For a community of designers, knowledge is a form of understanding that has been accumulated over time through careful observation, intuition, and reflection upon and during regular practice.  This type of knowledge differs compared to the scientific definition of knowledge provided above, as it does not necessarily carry the same kind of validity, reliability, or generalization.

Although the definition of architectural knowledge is different from science, research associated with architecture should not be excluded from the scientific community. Architecture itself holds almost a bottomless ocean of technicality, and with the ever changing world of technology and creativity, many have come to understand that architecture is a combination of the arts and sciences.  For that reason, architectural research should not be forced into a categorization of pure art or pure science. The field of architectural research is broad and deep, and it constitutes a unique discipline.

With that basis set, the lab has formulated their own ideas on architectural research process and principles:


*Trygve Faste, Haakon Faste, “Demystifying “Design Research”: Design is not research, research is design,” IDSA, education symposium 2012, Boston.

*MATT POWERS, “Toward a Discipline-Dependent Scholarship,” Journal of Architectural Education, Vol. 61, No. 1, (Sep., 2007), pp. 15-18