07 April 2013

Week 12_Research Methodologies

Experimental Cultures: On the “End” of the Design Thesis and the Rise of the Research Studio_David Salomon
Experiment, Research, & Design
1_What are your pre-conceived notions about “research,” Do you think of it in terms of experimentation, information gathering, the studying of a subject, inquiry, etc?

Definitions of “Research” from Merriam Webster
            1: careful or diligent search

2: studious inquiry or examination; especially: investigation or experimentation aimed at the discovery and interpretation of facts, revision of accepted theories or laws in the light of new facts, or practical application of such new or revised theories or laws

                3: the collecting of information about a particular subject

 2_ Nietzsche states “experiments are not limited to the controlled tests that demonstrate or provide evidence of some universal truth; that is, they are not synonymous with the scientific method. Experiments are also previously untried, decidedly risky operations aimed at creating something of-the-moment and new.” (33) Do you think there is a place for both types of experimentation in the field of architecture, is one more prevalent than the other, is one more closely related to “research” as we previously discussed?

3_What is “Design Research?” is there such a thing, or do design and research stand alone?

“Herbert Simon, who argued that design, was method for solving problems that have more than one right answer…design can alternatively be understood as both rational problem-solving technique or an intuitive aesthetic act. “ (34)

“…Research can be defined as any “systematic inquiry,” or as “the close study” of something. This suggests that there would be multiple modes of inquiry - both quantitative and qualitative – that can satisfy these requirements beyond the type of work done in a conventional laboratory.” (34)

“…Research does not simply compile what already exists, but advances the current state of the art.” (34)

Thesis vs. Research Studio
4_Architecture=Building Science + Art History + Fine Arts, where design is the “+,” Do you think that this is still how architectural education or thesis is structured, at UWM or elsewhere? Do you think this a good model? Is the teaching of design emphasized or lost within this model, should design be more prevalent, as some would argue that “(design is) Consistently recognized as the most important subject taught in architecture schools, design was also the one with the least academic credentials.” (35)

5_ “The traditional definition of the scholarly thesis was a series of statements or propositions that either built upon, added to, reinforced, or challenged an existing body of knowledge by “ construction an argument that can stand up” by itself and  be “maintained against attack” from those qualified to judge its veracity. In other words, a thesis is a new idea that needs to be proven relative to a field’s established set of facts, as such, the unique design for a building was no in and of itself a thesis. It could be so only if it added something to, reinforced a weak point within, or contradicted something in the multiple fields that made up the architectural discipline – of which design was not quite one.” (35) Do you think that this is the model most thesis projects follow today, at UWM or elsewhere, or is it more of a comprehensive design approach as described on page 36? To be a “good” thesis project do you believe it needs to follow more of the traditional model or the comprehensive design approach? How does design, research, or design research as previously discussed play a role in this traditional thesis model as well as the comprehensive design approach model?

6_In contrast do you think that a Research Studio is a better way of doing a final/large project for the completion of a professional degree? What role does design, research, or design research play in a research studio, does one element dominate? Out of the examples given in the reading of past research studios do you think that one model would be more successful than the others?

7_Overall what are your thoughts on thesis vs. research studio, are there certain advantages to one over the other? Which would you personally choose if given the option for your final project in a professional degree? Do you think that the Research Studio is what more universities will offer in the future in place of letting students do thesis projects?  

Introduction: Practice vs. Project_Stan Allen
Architecture as Material Practice
8_What is a material practice? Is architecture the only thing that fits into this type of category? What aspect of a material practice is it that separates architecture from all other discursive practices? (Xlll-XV)

9_ “Material practices unfold in time, with a full awareness of the history of the discipline, but never satisfied to simply repeat, or to execute a system of rules defined elsewhere….Constraint is not an obstacle, but an opportunity for invention, provoking the discovery of new techniques...As in intelligence work, with immense quantities of information now simultaneously available, it is no longer access to information that counts, but the ability to process, organize, and visualize information that is crucial” (XV) Do you feel that this expert only applies to material practices and the field of architecture? Do you believe that this idea plays a role in the thesis vs. research studio debate?

Techniques: Differences that make a Difference
10_”Design Intelligence, enable architects to navigate more effectively in this new, information – dense context. Speaks’ suggestive formulation plays on two meanings of the word “ intelligence.” On the one hand, it recognizes that architects and other design professionals possess a specific form of expertise, a synthetic and projective capacity unique to their own discipline. Design intelligence in this sense implies the thoughtful application of that expertise to problems specific to architecture….” (XVlll) How does this apply to our discussion of Research, design, and the traditional thesis model?

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