The Faculty of Architecture at the Estonian Academy of Arts (EAA) is renewing its PhD program. The development of an internationally competitive doctoral studies programme aims to considerably stimulate the research work in architecture. The ambition is to develop a doctorate based on design practice research, which looks at the practice of architecture from within instead of an external view taken by history and theory of architecture.
The doctorate programme should provide an academic framework for the novel problem settings and experimentation going on in the venturous practices and concurrently bring the innovative practices back to the academia.
‘Practice-based research’, ‘research by design’, and ‘design practice research’ are among numerous names that coin contemporary research practices in urban design and architecture. The aim of this conference is to introduce different design based approaches to research in the field of architecture including the newly found potential in deviation from the traditional theory based research in humanities. We wish to generate discussion among the community of architects and scholars of the expectations for the new doctorate.
How does the design practice research benefit the community of practice? Which paradoxes, conflicts and challenges emerge? And how do these current developments reflect the future of design and placemaking?
The issue goes beyond an individual design practice – it concerns interventions in cities and landscapes in a global era. It generates communities of practice.
Design practice research builds on architects‘ and designers’ responsibility to further their practice domain, and that this examination of the nature of their mastery promotes and extends the fundamental knowledge base of their discipline, and thus its ability to serve the society.
How do general ideas about design practice research migrate and mutate, synergize and conflict in the encounter with the context of the specific venturous practice? This conference invites to reflect and discuss how design and planning mindsets are not only articulated but also generated, developed and practiced through design practice research. We therefore aim to offer certain perspectives, related to the following questions:
– Architecture as such is often presented as particularly site-specific, the practices of designers and planners are culturally grounded and imply certain habits of thought – including the way that we understand ‘research’. What might be the universal characteristics of a contemporary venturous practice?
– Behind the advocacy for ‘design practice research’, like in other creative fields, there is always a certain agenda. Who needs ‘design practice research’? And why? How are the design and planning practices articulated, developed and altered in the research framework? How might this eventually influence our cities?
Faculty of Architecture of the Estonian Academy of Arts
The EAA was established in 1914. It is the only public university in Estonia providing higher education in fine art, design, architecture, visual culture and conservation. The Faculty of Architecture of the Estonian Academy of Arts is the major competence centre of architectural education in Estonia, covering the entire sector of architectural disciplines, including architecture, interior architecture, urban design, furniture design, landscape architecture and urban studies.
The research work of the Faculty of Architecture is divided into two major areas. The first focuses on the history, theory and philosophy of architecture, interior architecture, urban design, furniture design and landscape architecture relying primarily on the methodology of the history of architecture and philosophy. The second concentrates on the practice of the above-mentioned specialties which are studied from the within by the means of the given field instead of the external view taken by the history and theory of architecture. The practice-based research is further divided into two approaches:
1. Creative practice research is founded on the new knowledge and original problem statements that stem from the work of an architecture office thus presupposing a well-functioning venturous practice with a track record of innovative design and research projects. It is intended for practicing architects who wish to develop the experimentation, innovative problem statements and solutions conducted in architecture offices into academic research.
2. Within ‘research by design’ the research results in a product with the respective creative processes, novel research topics and solutions. It is intended primarily for recent MA graduates and often requires the availability of most recent hardware and software.