Rethinking models of architectural research: we don't do objects


Vol. 6 No. 2 (2009)
Research Articles
December 7, 2009


Historically, an argument can be made that architectural research was produced internal to firms and manufacturers as proprietary objects or sets of data. The concept of disciplines and professions reinforced the separation of open-sourced knowledge and the application of that knowledge in a commercial context. However, design has rapidly changed from an object-solution profession and is now faced with finding solutions to complex problems within complex systems. The past practice model of client, architect, and final product seems an ill-fit in this new context. The question is how to integrate a critical research process into a professional capacity in which that architectural research needs an inherent and immediate value to be performed or pursued. The SYNCH Research Group [synchRG] was formed in response to this question. Although research consortiums, design initiatives and research centres exist within many schools of architecture, most operate as a department or extensions of a school of architecture. SynchRG operates in neither private practice nor as a division of the university. Organized as a diverse and fluid association of faculty, students, professionals, and consultants, the synchRG group is focused on a designmethodology and philosophical structure rather than a client, site, building, typology, or object. The focus on idiosyncratic or aesthetic solutions to singular problems is set aside in order to provide acollaborative intellectual space for professional based explorations. The paper will examine synchRG's response to current architectural research challenges and illustrate its unique structure as a possible model to be replicated. A dialogue will be initiated on a model for practice aligned with both academia and industry.