This paper aims to outline renewed architectural design research pedagogies for the exploration of innovative design strategies responding to our contemporary global challenges. The focus is on the tension between collaborative and transdisciplinary studio activities and on the students’ engagement with real case scenarios and stakeholders, using tools and techniques beyond the conventional boundaries of architectural spaces. Students are trained to develop critical and independent architectural positions, encompassing the social, cultural, contextual, environmental, political, technological, economic, historical, and philosophical levels. The practice of design research as defined by Jeremy Till (2008), and developed by many others (Schaik 2009, Verbeke 2013, Fraser 2013, Blythe 2013, Vaughan 2017), suggests developing new visions for design pedagogy. Beyond the conventional approaches to architectural design education, the focus is on how research thinking would be integrated into the action of designing and how this articulation would foster the advancement of knowledge in architecture and the urban environment. Focusing on a design research agenda pushes the boundaries of current pedagogical practices of design studio. It fosters a pedagogy that is focused on the ethics of care and allows to enhance a level of empathy between local actors and the students in their transformative processes as future architectural co-design researchers. This paper presents the comparative experience of the Design-Research Units of the Postgraduate MA Architectural Design of the Welsh School of Architecture (Cardiff University, UK) and the 3rd Year Architectural Design Studio of the Department of Architecture (UET, Lahore, Pakistan) and reviews critically the iterative process followed by both cohorts of students. Thus, design research allows the creation of spaces of dialogue with the contemporary city and the natural environment, through devising — precisely — ‘dialogic’ and ever-changing research questions that are constantly refined throughout the process. Finally, the paper discusses through the design processes and final design research proposals of the studio as the results of how design research pedagogies promote transdisciplinary learning.
Federico is a Senior Lecturer of Architecture Design and Urban Design at the WSA, a European researcher and an award-winning practioner. He is also the Course Director of the Masters of Architecture Design (MA AD). Federico graduated at the ETSAM (Madrid, Spain) in 1998. In 2007/2008, he was awarded the Rome Prize in Architecture of the Royal Spanish Academy of Rome. He owns a European PhD, completed during his year in Rome, at the ETSAM School of Architecture of Madrid (Spain), at Roma Tre University (Italy) and supervised in Paris-Belleville University (France). He has been recently awarded with the Europa Nostra Grand Prix 2019 and the Europa Nostra 2019, the most prestigious European award in Heritage preservation for his restoration of the Oratory of the Partal palace, a 14thC. mosque in the Alhambra (Granada, Spain). His work in the UK began in 2012, when he was Visiting Teacher at the Architectural Association (AA) in London. Then, in March 2013, he joined the WSA as a Marie Curie Intra European Fellowship (IEF) Postdoctoral Senior Researcher, EMUVE Project. His European research project, EMUVE (Euro-Mediterranean Urban Voids Ecology) was funded by the European Commission with 220,000 Euros. EMUVE focuses on the search of innovative design methodologies for the re-activation of urban landscapes in crisis, from 2008 Economic downturn to current migrant and refugee crisis. His practice W+G Architects has been awarded with 10 first prizes in International Architecture competions. His projects have addressed a wide range of issues, from public spaces (Eras, Forum), Heritage (Restoration of a 14th C mosque in the arabic palace of the Alhambra, Spain), to cooperation projects in developing countries (Ethiopia, Morocco).
Dr. Mamuna Iqbal is an assistant professor at Department of Architecture University of Engineering and Technology Lahore, Pakistan. She graduated in Architecture in 2008 and completed her Masters in 2013 from UET. She recently completed her PhD from Cardiff University UK, where she also worked as a teaching assistant and design tutor with the Masters of Architectural Design (MAAD), Welsh school of Architecture. Her research interest is in social equality in architecture and architectural education, and this is why her PhD was focused on the impact of social background on students’ learning experiences and approaches of architectural education and how it might be impacted by various pedagogical practices. She is passionate about design research and how it can help as a pedagogic practice to make architectural education more empathetic and socially inclusive.