As intellectual practice, architecture embodies unique ways of knowing. We use many terms to describe the creation of new architectural knowledge, among them research, scholarship and creative practice. Sometimes these terms are used interchangeably and without precision. As we confront real world crises, and changing expectations for research production within universities, it is important to ask more precisely: what are the unique shapes of the new knowledges that are particular to architecture?
Architecture is shaped by its grounding conditions, among them: shelter, social relationships, culture, economy, energy, materiality, and technique. The challenge of integrating diverse inputs and questions differentiates architecture from other, more narrowly defined disciplines. Rather than framing this heterogeneity as a “generalist” form of inquiry, it can be argued that architecture’s multiplicity of constituencies and concerns can, and does, lead to the formulation of more compelling research questions and creative production.
When an increasing number of fields claim design thinking as their domain, all design inquiry must demonstrate “added value” to whatever objects or problems they explore. Could this value be located precisely in the often tense and positively charged gap between research and practice? The 104th annual conference calls for session topics exploring what this productive tension means to the academy: to our teaching, inquiry, and contribution to the profession. What are the promising new shapes of knowledge emerging from architectural inquiry, and what possible forms of knowing are latent and ripe for future exploration in the discipline and the profession?