Reading April 2016

DR_SOM READING 2016-Apr-22

DR_SoM : Design Research, Series on Method

session 4: Design Research (in) Practice

The fourth session of DR_SoM (Design Research Series on Method) will take place at the new school of Architecture at Reading University in the UK. It will focus on Research Methods used by practitioners, architectural and other, for the study of practice. We are looking for presentations of projects and practices that frame design in a rigorous way, in terms of aims, methodologies, and forms of critical reflection that might even acknowledge and celebrate the importance of meandering and failure.
Presentations are invited from architectural practitioners who are undertaking research in practice and from those who are studying the processes and methodologies of practice research. We want to hear how practitioners proceed with their design-related research, how they think about the ways in which their design approach increases knowledge about design and building.


Doina Petrescu (Professor of Architecture and Design Activism, Head of Research, Sheffield School of Architecture)

Níall McLaughlin (Director, Níall McLaughlin Architects; Professor of Architectural Practice, Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL)

Bishop Edward King Chapel www.

Bishop Edward King Chapel www.


Darryl Chen
Eirene Schreurs
Helen Stratford
Jane Anderson
Maarten Van Den Driessche
Mark Lumley
Mhairi McVicar
Oliver Froome Lewis
Nicola Ibbotson
Simon Bradbury
Torsten Schröder
Xiang Ren

Our work to date suggests that the majority of practitioners see little connection between work in practice and research. Yet, we argue, research takes place in a variety of forms from the basic ordering and collation of information to support design; design research on projects as well as more formal research projects. What, if any, are the boundaries between practice, consultancy and research? One of our aims is to explore the fuzzy limits of this issue so clearly demarcated through laws of taxation. There is much confusion as to the nature of research by design, which we see as a subset of architectural research practice. A further aim is to explore definitions of excellence in this area.

Although nearly all architectural practices offer spatial and tectonic solutions to complex problems, they differ widely in ways in which they do this. Most practices have practice priorities that influence the way they work and the values they promote. A small social architecture practice in the regions works in a very different way to a large commercial practice in London or anywhere else around the globe. This symposium will explore practice values and methodologies across the board.

We argue that the outcomes of design research in architectural practice can be categorised under four broad headings: cultural value, social value, environmental value and commercial value ( These will give structure to the day’s proceedings. The symposium is funded through the AHRC ‘Evidencing and Communicating the Value of Architects’ project. It will be free to all who attend (apart from the conference dinner). For those in practice it should qualify as Continuing Professional Development.

Please send a concise description of the work you want to present of no more than 200 words (and any additional graphic material, if required) to by 8 February for consideration by the panel.

Full papers are not required as we recognize work in progress. However, participants are invited to write an illustrated paper afterwards, for publication in a booklet dedicated to this DR_SoM session. Further information can be found at

For any questions related to content of this fourth DR_SoM session in Reading please contact Flora Samuel at; for any questions related to practicalities and organisation please contact Emma Jane Woodhouse at For any questions on the project of DR_SoM in general, contact Johan De Walsche at
Provisional programme

Call in PDF-format: DR_SOM Reading


DR_SoM is a project within the ARENA network for architectural research. (

The DR_SoM panel consists of :
Johan De Walsche, UAntwerpen (project leader);
Oya Atalay Franck, ZHAW Winterthur (project leader);
Flora Samuel, SoA Reading (organizer and host);
Roberto Cavallo, TUDelft;
Murray Fraser, UCL Bartlett;
João Sequeira, ECATI/ULHT Lisbon;
Johan Verbeke, KULeuven/Aarhus;
Pieter Versteegh, ESA‐PSYCHE.

The DR_SoM event in Reading is organized by ARENA, international Network of Architectural Research, and the School of Architecture, Reading.