Architectural research is the organized investigation done in the architectural field by studying materials and sources to generate insights, knowledge, and understanding. This research is based on tools, competencies, and methods found in the architectural field and possesses its strategies, scope, knowledge base and tactics. Research is vital to architectural practice, as it teaches prospective architects important architectural skills in research. Exposure to research-based education for architecture students creates better development and learning experiences. Research in schools helps to create a research mentality in architects.

The Practice of Architectural Research: How to start - Sheet1
Architectural Research_©Abbott Andrew

There was a rise in the independence of architectural theory as a discipline in the 1960s, developing the theory of architectural practice. This creates a self-referential and independent area in architecture which is separate from the world of production and the sphere of action. The break between theory and practice was stated to be linked in the 1990s through the development and use of ontological research of exemplary buildings integrated with analytical research methods. This approach was developed by architects in the academic field, and it focuses on the principles of architecture, grand narratives production and the voice of the architect.

There are three types of research approaches in architecture, with each having a distinct approach (Seppo et al. 2002). Practice-based research and architectural design-based research are created from the architect’s theory or related disciplines. These two types of research are research approaches which are theory-based and come from scientific practice. The action research approach is the last type of architectural research; it is practice-oriented and originates from architectural practice. This article will consider methods to go about the action research approach and the architectural design-based research.

Architectural design-based research 

The Practice of Architectural Research: How to start - Sheet2
Architectural Research Generation_©Yasser Mahgoub
  • Create your research paper topic

Identifying a research topic is the first line of action in starting research. Architecture is a broad field of study with different research areas such as architectural history, philosophy of architecture, design theory, interpretation of architecture, etc. Reviewing from a wide perspective to a narrower perspective enables one to grasp the topic better.

  • Resources Gathering 

Choosing a research topic is followed by obtaining relevant data to carry out the research. This relevant data may include building codes and existing research to write discussion points. These existing studies are found in articles and journals and must be cited accordingly if used in the research paper. Research resources are also collected by the use of research questions developed, which serves as the advanced search feature.

  • Structure of the research paper

The detailed structuring of a research paper involves arranging the points in an orderly way for the smooth flow of the article. Abstract and introduction are the first point of call in a research paper. They are important elements of the research paper, providing the overview for a reader to continue going over the research paper.

  • Review the research paper

A research paper must be properly cited and reviewed after writing to correct errors within the article. This review can be done using an editing tool which helps produce grammatically correct content which is easily understandable by the reader. A proper citation of the article should be carried out to acknowledge the use of individuals’ ideas and for further reading by prospective readers.

  • Getting Funding | Architectural Research

Funding is a major issue in carrying out architectural research. There are numerous ways to get funding for research projects. Architectural bodies offer to fund researchers, which the funding is based on how feasible the projects are and their relevance to the architectural field. Schools also provide funding for researchers and some help researchers in finding grant opportunities.

Action research approach | Architectural Research

©Christopher L. Cosper
  • Research Strategy

In action research, knowledge is developed and integrated into a particular area in the architectural field. This knowledge is researched by an architectural firm, which in turn focuses its research efforts on aligning with the firm’s business strategy. Architectural research is carried out by different organizations to give the firm strategic benefits and a comparative advantage in the field. This research may focus on the technical or the material research process to create new areas of expertise for the firm or improve the current areas.

  • Daring during research

Architectural firms sometimes focus their research on new and revolutionary innovations as opposed to research aimed at improving the current architectural field. Research is made to test new methods and ideas, i.e., research is mistake bound and about trial and error. Risky research gives the firm a comparative advantage and can cause a big edge in business.

  • Networking in research

Building a network of experts and advisers focused on research in an architectural firm. This group tests and discusses new concepts which are essential in research. Networking is used to gather knowledge about new research development and new ideas across the research areas. Networking creates an ecosystem of research collaborators which create new knowledge in the field and recognize what happens in the architectural profession.

  • Teamwork in Research

Collaboration within a firm to carry out research in the architectural field is another dilemma for architectural firms. Architecture is an area that focuses on creativity, and such creativity can be discovered through collaboration. Teamwork should be encouraged in research as it produces new design processes and conceptual ideas through an iterative process which gives a competitive advantage to the architectural firm involved in the research.

  • Involving the academics | Architectural Research

The architecture academia is focused on research and development, which is an interesting area for architectural firms. Encouraging the participation of academic researchers to participate in a firm’s research through workshops. This allows for a better understanding of happenings both in academics and in architectural practice, such as the time pressures of practice and roles in research projects.


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Chukwuebuka is an architecture student and an amateur writer using his skills to express his ideas to the world. He has written a few articles for DAPC Uniben and he is adventuring to become a popular writer.