Editorial 2/2024

Tadeja Zupančič

Cite this article
Župančič, T. (2024) ‘Editorial’, Architecture Papers of the Faculty of Architecture and Design STU, 29(2), pp. 1, 2. https://www.doi.org/10.2478/alfa-2024-0006

 

This edition of Architecture Papers of the Faculty of Architecture and Design STU represents a multifaceted trigger for a vivid discussion about the quality of architectural research. It presents some holistic, socially and culturally oriented research approaches. It also showcases how technical specialists within the wider domain address specific issues, relevant to architecture as a field of knowledge. Is that architectural research as well? My answer is a conditional yes: if/when contextualised into the holistic spectrum of multi-perspective views, deriving from interdisciplinary discussions. As a member of the EAAE Council (European Association of Architectural Education) I am referring to the updated EAAE Charter on Architectural Research (EAAE): ‘… research in architecture encompasses knowledge production through design projects, artefacts and design processes, as well as research about and for design.’ In this issue, we can find research about and for design. It is coming from different professional profiles, working in a disciplinary way.

As an architect I am searching for holistic approaches to the research theme and/or problem selecting, addressing and discussing. I hold to the integral research tradition in architecture. I believe in the power of convergent thinking, a characteristic of designers, overcoming contemporary knowledge fragmentation and dispersion, able to master ‘wicked problems, open-ended processes, resilience and risk.’ (CA2RE) I have difficulty understanding the research without comprehensive contextualisation. When researchers talk or write about design from a singular point of view, without the evidence of being able to create a distant view, except from the same direction as their singularity of view, I doubt this kind of research is highly relevant for architecture as a culturally rooted field of knowledge, that primarily contributes to the cultural development. Sometimes people use the term design for any issue relevant to the design process, without the ability to immerse into the design thinking and doing. I think a meaningful contribution to architectural knowledge requires a multiple view approach, future orientation, or at least a discussion about the potential future relevance of the work, as well as hybrid methods, dependent on research topics, strategies employed and developed.

The speed of publication production works against the opportunity to immerse into the worlds of other researchers. Writing the editorial is more than a discussion about the themes available. It is more than making an artificial framework imposed for classification at the level of abstraction that fits all and none of the contents. In the case of open issues, this is a tempting way out. Though I think an editorial could, in the future, become a critical meta-reflection on the originality (of knowledge contribution), relevance (of themes, problems, approaches, research strategies) and rigour (of aims or questions or hypotheses and methods employed), I am leaving this critical reflection to the readers.

In the article about the small-scale housing estates in Budapest, from the period between 1945 and 1960, the main idea is to confirm the hypothesis about the persistence of a small housing estate as a housing form, that ‘withstands political and architectural changes, adapting to and continuing to meet their requirements’. This is examined from various perspectives. The post-occupancy evaluation of numerous social housing units in Oran, Algeria, is another example of a research approached from various angles to gain perspective. The focus is on the social dimensions and, more specifically, on the impact of social actions on the traces of socially ignorant architectural ideas. Dealing with some cases in Oran cannot be generalised to the whole Algerian context, yet on the other hand, it cannot be limited to the context of a specific city or state.

The remaining three articles represent a singular perspective view very close to the specific issues dealt with. They promise some insights into ‘enhancing visual comfort in staircases’ through ‘comprehensive analysis and design recommendations’, ideas for ‘…optimising daylighting and passive indoor thermal comfort in single-banked office buildings in the temperate dry climate of Nigeria’ and the study about weight and structural considerations of potential green roof growth-media compositions for the Nigerian building industry.

To conclude, I would like to point out some contemporary changes in research assessment guidelines. They may reduce the time-related pressure on all those involved: authors, reviewers, editors… The evidence of these changes is, for instance, the CoARA agreement (CoARA). Having enough time, researchers might rethink the context of potential relevance in a specific research. What are the communities of research relevance in each case? Multiple views and contextual anchors within the same article could help to reach the relevant audiences. Multi-, trans-, cross-disciplinary attempts seem promising in that direction, where architectural convergent thinking may glue the contemporary knowledge fragmentations.

References

CA2RE – Community for Artistic and Architectural Research “CA2RE+ Collective Evaluation of Design Driven Doctoral Training”. [online] Available at: https://ca2re.eu/ca2replus/ [Accessed: 2 June 2024]

CoARA – Coalition for Advancing Research Assessment “The Agreement on Reforming Research Assessment”. [online] Available at: https://coara.eu/agreement/the-agreement-full-text/ [Accessed: 2 June 2024]

EAAE – European Association for Architectural Education “EAAE Charter on Architectural Research”. [online] Available at: https://www.eaae.be/about/statutes-and-policypapers/eaae-charter-architectural-research/ [Accessed: 2 June 2024]

Keywords: interdisciplinary research, editorial, architectural research perspectives, convergent thinking, research relevance, CA2RE, CoARA, EAAE