Abstract

The Thinking While Doing (TWD) project was an ambitious “research-creation” project that involved the designing and building of several full scale, “real” structures by architecture students and professors in “design-build” education. The grant also included two ethnographers (as well as scholars from the humanities). Together the participants in TWD were engaged in intersecting and distinct modes of research, ranging from architecture practice to philosophical reflections. While there were intentions for the insights of the ethnographers to ex-tend and inform knowledge of practice, as the TWD structures were created, it became evident that undertaking ethnography coincident with designing and building was more challenging than anticipated. This paper outlines some of the experiences of ethnographers who followed the activities of designing and build-ing. This paper delves into two interrelated difficulties of cross-disciplinary collaborative work: the logistical organization and implementation of the research project and temporal disjunctions between modes of knowledge production (e.g. design versus ethnography). By exploring TWD as a collaboration between disparate forms of research, each with its distinct rhythms, unpredictable engagements, and contexts of knowledge production, we consider some of the challenges and possibilities of connecting ethnography with the practices of architectural design.

Keywords

architecture, design-build education, ethnography, temporality.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

Conference Track

Research Paper

COinS
 
Jun 25th, 9:00 AM

After practice: Messy relations in the ethnographic study of design

The Thinking While Doing (TWD) project was an ambitious “research-creation” project that involved the designing and building of several full scale, “real” structures by architecture students and professors in “design-build” education. The grant also included two ethnographers (as well as scholars from the humanities). Together the participants in TWD were engaged in intersecting and distinct modes of research, ranging from architecture practice to philosophical reflections. While there were intentions for the insights of the ethnographers to ex-tend and inform knowledge of practice, as the TWD structures were created, it became evident that undertaking ethnography coincident with designing and building was more challenging than anticipated. This paper outlines some of the experiences of ethnographers who followed the activities of designing and build-ing. This paper delves into two interrelated difficulties of cross-disciplinary collaborative work: the logistical organization and implementation of the research project and temporal disjunctions between modes of knowledge production (e.g. design versus ethnography). By exploring TWD as a collaboration between disparate forms of research, each with its distinct rhythms, unpredictable engagements, and contexts of knowledge production, we consider some of the challenges and possibilities of connecting ethnography with the practices of architectural design.

 

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