Architectural research is being redefined in practice. Whereas once the value of a piece of research was solely measured by the number of citations it received by fellow academics, shifting funding models and new societal concerns are forcing academia to question its structure and this mode of evaluation. At the same time a wave of practitioners and new types of institutions, such as RMIT in Melbourne and the London School of Architecture (LSA), have been recasting architectural education and theoretical speculation within practice, turning the traditional architectural studio into a learning environment that adopts and adapts academic models, and starts to use architectural research as a potential source of business intelligence, as a means for self-generating future commissions and speculative opportunities that sometimes even shift the terrain of practice.
This new focus on research in practice is indicative of a profession redefining its relevance and scope. This is destabilising the traditional roles of academia and practice by questioning their deep-rooted separation and demanding a new definition of the term ‘research’ with one that is relevant to both parties. This issue features contributions from architectural thinkers, researchers and a number of practitioners who are recasting academic speculation within their own studios. This not only redefines what is meant by research and what forms it takes, but also how it creates value for them, their clients, for the discipline as a whole and for the ultimate users of their designs. This helps us to understand how research might be deemed valuable beyond a purely academic context. Moreover, it raises significant questions in terms of opportunities and risks that arise when research is recast into the less regimented realm of practice.
Contributors: Daniel Davis, Lionel Devlieger, David Green, Harriet Harris, Rory Hyde, Lara Kinneir, James Soane, Ziona Strelitz, Leon van Schaik, John Zhang
Featured architects: Assemble, DSDHA, Foster + Partners, Iredale Pedersen Hook, OMA, Public Practice and Superflux.