Research by Design in Architecture: an approach into the exploratory research phase

  • Maria Rita Pais Universidade Lusófona de Humanidades e Tecnologias


In the scope of design, research has been a difficult issue to respond to the real necessitiesthroughout the process of thinking. Even the “design” word is meant to beused in several different fields of knowledge and practice (from industrial design,computation systems to architecture).Concerning Research by Design (RbD), there is a sense of vagueness, both in terms ofmethodology and aims. That’s the result of its own essence: design is the result of abig creative endeavour and research is focused in concrete results due to certain questionsor problems.Focusing in the architecture discipline, RbD is commonly the most used work methodology.In this sense, we can say that there are so many RbD as many architects andarchitecture students in the world. So can we improve this kind of research and take itto another level, integrating it into the field of the so called traditional research?The purpose of this paper is to understand more about the “exploratory phase” in theRbD approach. This phase is based in data and collected information as well as individualexperience. This paper tries to understand and improve the critical thinkingimplicit in the “exploratory research”. This critical thinking is linked to certain “strategicquestions” and “operational links” that guide the researcher into a more understandable research practice. The final aim is to lead the RbD to a more sustainedinternal validity (satisfactory conclusions among the variables experimented) andexternal validity (generalise the findings to an appropriate community).Keywords: Research by Design, Architecture, Exploratory Research Phase, CriticalThinking, Creative Thinking