Genus, Locus, Nexus – an inquiry into the nature of research in architectural design education

Promotors: Nathalie Vallet

Genus_Locus_Nexus (GLN) investigates the research-foundation of architectural design education. The increasing academisation of higher education, instigated by the Bologna process, has provoked architectural education to strengthen its links with research. There is a widespread belief in the benefits of a so-called research-teaching nexus (RT-nexus), but there is a lack of empirical evidence.
Through literature study and document analysis, I uncover that the discourse of European higher education policy about the benefits of a RT-nexus is inconsistent and even contradictory. Moreover, scrutiny of the philosophical and historical grounds of the concept reveals that it is complicated and polysemic. I conclude that the advocacy of a RT-nexus, as it prevails in European higher education policy, is far from evident.
This is particularly the case for architectural education. Architecture schools consider the design studio as the backbone of the programme. But the relationship with research is uneasy, contested or even rejected. Is design studio teaching academic?

Through fieldwork in architectural design studios in Flanders, I investigate the research-foundation of studio teaching. I conclude that connections with formal scientific research are scarce or absent, but uncover that nevertheless teaching appeals in many regards to features of research and academic inquiry. 
The aim of the study is to provide a new, theoretically underpinned and empirically grounded outline, for reframing the debate about a RT-nexus. The architectural design studio serves as a case, but the relevance of the study reaches beyond the scope of architecture, to higher education policy regarding practice-based and profession-oriented academic programmes.

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