Montague, Lucy (2011) Architecture + Urban Design. In: "Fragile" - International Student Conference, 6-7 April 2011, Brussels. (Unpublished)

Whilst traditional research degrees are well established as having textual output, the development of design as an integral part of the research process and product is emerging in a number of disciplines, including my own – architecture and urban design. Throughout architectural and urban design education, design skills are cultivated and become inextricably linked to the parallel skills of problem solving and communication. It seems appropriate then that this means of exploring and expressing ideas should be able to extend beyond taught programmes into research, broadening and enriching the methodological potential. At present any
evidence of this appears to be more implicit than explicit.
This paper explores the different issues around research by design in relation to urban design and reviews some of the emerging and established approaches. It then considers the approach which I have adopted for my own work. An initial review of the literature, illustrates that four categories can be determined: quasiscientific,
creative practice, speculation and reflection. These methods deal with design in different ways
– generative, analytical or illustrative – and within each there is a variety of components and structures. I have chosen to move forward with the reflective approach as it centres the designer within the research with a clear understanding of the design process which is made explicit.
Urban design is a creative discipline in which there is normally a pre-requisite for clients to commission the work and consequently the objectives are prescribed from outside. An array of external pressures is inherited such as budget, site and regulations and the designer is required to respond to all of these. With this central role, using the model of the reflective practitioner, I argue that the researcher/designer has an opportunity to reflect on the design process relative to the external context and explicit and implicit theoretical influences.

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