Architecture is not just Architecture; it is a complex process of designing around human needs and comfort. Its essence lies in the philosophy and approach to craft something unique. But we need to understand a major portion of what we desire to create lies in the past or present built form. Solid research backs up in strengthens design contextually. Though, architects in practice claim that research does not affect the field of work. This perception is largely since research is considered as a “theoretical” aspect, but in reality, it encompasses various criteria. Research isn’t always authority can approach to project it is understanding and relating process to the past for creating a new future. This continuous process of evolution in architecture requires analysis of the past, for a better hierarchy of spaces for mankind.
A product of research forms a background to context with giving purpose and direction to the process. Architecture is not just building industry it is understanding and absorbing the space narrative that makes up the premises. Architectural research is a simple concept that involves developing knowledge in a particular direction, applying a well-structured approach and methodology. With the benefit of expertise, it also gives a competitive advantage to the practitioner and applying their capabilities as equipped professionals in the field.
In this period of dynamic times, for the design to function socially, culturally, and economically one has to respond to the affluent factors to minimize cost, maximize efficiency and optimize resources. According to AIA, there are three scales at which architectural research can affect and be relevant:
- Individual/human scale: architecture revolves around human factors so understanding who we are designing for needs thorough research. Grasping Human behavior, by analyzing how architecture impact lives and how the user response to design can improve human performance. Occupants’ safety in the premises, the need to protect the physical and mental health status.
- Building scale: building consumes large sums of resources and energies, researching on building performance and how it impacts surrounding environment. Conducting a fair study on technology trends used in the design and also the impact of materials on the occupants.
- Community-scale: Architecture shapes the society we live in. The role of architects and their interventions can help address societal issues. Research on the culture and background of the places can help in building a better environment. Study at these levels enhances the performance of the built structure as well as the user.
Architectural research is functional, which helps designers understand clients better. It simply doesn’t revolve around discovering and documenting materials and technology but also aims makes it relevant. Research conducted at every individual level helps in understanding the requirements in the individualistic nature of the project.
From the moment the brief has been received a series of research should be initiated, covering diverse areas like environmental sustainability, energy efficiency, etc, other than functional and technical architectural researches. In practice, the study is technical, functional, or anthropological.
- Technical research: helps the designer to gain knowledge and awareness on building materials, construction technology, etc, that would be feasible in context most appropriately.
- Functional research: it involves coming up with the best possible design solution to the problems in consideration by studying, analyzing numerous projects. Researching on applicable various layouts, facade systems, or design elements.
- Anthropological research: this aspect covers the human dimensions, reading up on human anthropology, their cultural/social needs respecting their comfort levels as well.
The process of architectural research is intervened and runs parallel as and when required. Research makes Architecture speak when the study addresses all the features of the project on both macro and micro scales. In the Indian context, the architectural practice fails to recognize research as a separate entity in the design process despite being conducted at various levels. Designers conduct numerous case studies to get a good knowledge of the project and clients’ needs. Proper market-material Survey is also undertaken, to discover the best with also keeping in mind the preferences the need of the user while designing, which will contribute to the post-occupancy analysis. The only factor being failed to be recognized is a systematic approach to do all these functions. Only if an appropriate process is outlined, practitioners would recognize research is an integral part of the design process.
For the architecture to be unique and speak of the age and the cultural context that produced it, significant research is required. The relationship between Architecture research and architectural design is that it is a tool to examine problem components and their interrelatedness, which examining company and solution into a functional resolution. This already conducted study provides ways to make the design comparatively more relevant and functional along with providing insights for solving future problems. Though the scope of practice-oriented research is guided by the set needs and preferences of the clients. The process has trial and error which should be considered. Architectural research backs up the design that is why the practice of research should be encouraged and should also be inculcated at every stage as an intrinsic component of design.