Research Methods in Architecture - Theory and Method - طرق البحث المعمارى - النظرية والطريقة
Research Methods in Architecture Theory and Method Dr. Yasser Mahgoub
Chapter 4Theory in Relation to MethodArchitectural Research MethodsLinda Groat & David Wang
4.1. IntroductionA Theory emerges when explanation is set forth systematically, usually from language, or by means of other signs and annotation.
4.1. IntroductionWhat is theoria?• The “active contemplation” of an object, rather than the passive reception of external effects.”
What is theory?Several definitions depending on the discipline.• In the natural sciences it is a removed and systematic accounting of an object where exact prediction is very high; i.e. where the relationship between several factors can be demonstrated to cause a result that can be predicted over and over again. If it cannot be demonstrated then it is determined to be a false theory.
What is theory?• In the human sciences it is not based on exact prediction (as much), but rather on statistical probabilities that can generalize on behavior or on a detailed “thick description” of a particular social-cultural context.• In the fine arts it is based on systematic philosophical constructions.
A scientific theory: Archimedes Buoyancy Principle “EUREKA!”• After he discovered his principle of buoyancy, the ancient Greek scholar Archimedes allegedly yelled out "Eureka!" and ran naked through the city of Syracuse. The story goes that Archimedes made his great breakthrough when he noticed the water rise as he got into the tub.• According to Archimedes buoyancy principle, the force acting on (buoying) a submerged or partially submerged object equals the weight of the liquid that the object displaces. This sort of principle has an immense range of applications and is essential to calculations of density, as well as designing submarines and other oceangoing vessels.• Explains the past, the present and predicts the future!
A scientific theory: Law of Gravitation• more than 300 years ago Sir Isaac Newton proposed a revolutionary idea: that any two objects, no matter their mass, exert gravitational force toward one another. This law is represented by an equation that many high schoolers encounter in physics class. It goes as follows: F = G × [(m1m2)/r²]• F is the gravitational force between the two objects, measured in Newtons. m1 and m2 are the masses of the two objects, while r is the distance between them. G is the gravitational constant.• The benefit of the universal law of gravitation is that it allows us to calculate the gravitational pull between any two objects. This ability is especially useful when scientists are planning to put a satellite in orbit or charting the course of the moon.• Explains the past, the present and predicts the future!
2 A scientific theory: E=mc• E represents energy, m represents mass, and c² is the square of the speed of light (2.9 x 10^8 meters per second!).• A tiny amount of mass when multiplied by such a huge number (C) yields an incredible amount of energy. Releasing that energy can do everything from power cities (a nuclear power plant) to destroy them (a nuclear bomb).• Predicts the future!
A scientific theory: Big Bang Theory• The big bang theory postulates that the universe began almost 14 billion years ago with a massive expansion event. At the time, the universe was confined to a single point, encompassing all of the universes matter. That original movement continues today, as the universe keeps expanding outward.• Explains the past, the present and predicts the future!
A scientific theory: PLACEBO EFFECT• If youre given a pill and told itll cure your headache, and your condition improves even though the pill contains nothing but chalk, you have experienced the placebo effect. If you believe in it strongly enough, almost anything can have a placebo effect.• Scientific tests under controlled conditions have shown that placebo effects can be enhanced by giving people bigger pills, by giving them pink pills rather than white ones, and by the perceived seniority of the doctor whos prescribing the pill.• Predicts the future! If you believe in it strongly enough, almost anything can have the placebo effect
A scientific theory: MEMETICS• Whenever we copy habits, skills, stories or any kind of information from person to person, were dealing in memes. The term was coined by Richard Dawkins to describe cultural replicators that copy and transmit biological information. Humans copy memes, including ideas and skills, through imitation and teaching; but they get changed, accidentally or on purpose, so that culture evolves. This echoes the way species evolve as genes mutate. Like genes, some memes are successful, while others arent. Its obvious why some memes spread - theyre useful, or aesthetically pleasing, like melodies. But some spread even though they confer no clear benefit - things like computer viruses.• Predicts the future!
An Architecture Theory: Vitruvius• "De architectura libri decem" (Ten Books on Architecture), the oldest treatise on architecture to survive in its entirety from pre-Christian times.• Vitruvius work is not simply a unique source off information about the architecture of antiquity and its principles, but has become the foundation for all writings on architectural theory since the Born: Rome ca. 80 B.C. Renaissance. Died: Rome, ca. 20 B.C.• The three fundamental laws that Architecture must obey, in order to be so considered: firmitas, utilitas, Firmitas firmness venustas, translated in the 17th century by Sir Henry Wotton into the English slogan firmness, commodity and delight (meaning structural Utilitas Venustas adequacy, functional adequacy, and beauty). commodity delight• What architecture is!
An Architecture Theory: Le Corbusier• The New Spirit of the 20th-century: The ideal house as “a machine for living. Based on engineering achievements in bridge building and steamship construction; on modern materials such as ferroconcrete, sheet glass, and synthetics; and on contemporary needs such as town planning and housing projects.• The International style of low-lying, unadorned buildings that depend for aesthetic effect on simplicity of forms and relation to function.• What architecture should be!
Architecture quotes• “Architecture is the learned game, correct and magnificent, of forms assembled in the light.” Le Corbusier quotes (Swiss Architect and city planner, whose designs combine the functionalism of the modern movement with a bold, sculptural expressionism. 1887-1965)• “The mother art is architecture. Without an architecture of our own we have no soul of our own civilization.” Frank Lloyd Wright quotes (American Architect and Writer, the most abundantly creative genius of American architecture. His Prairie style became the basis of 20th century residential design in the United States, 1867-1959)• “All architecture is shelter, all great architecture is the design of space that contains, cuddles, exalts, or stimulates the persons in that space.” Philip Johnson• “There are three forms of visual art: Painting is art to look at, sculpture is art you can walk around, and architecture is art you can walk through” Dan Rice• “Architecture is a social act and the material theater of human activity.” Spiro Kostof• “Fashion is architecture: it is a matter of proportions.” Coco Chanel (French Fashion designer who ruled over Parisian haute couture for almost six decades, 1883-1971)• “Architecture, of all the arts, is the one which acts the most slowly, but the most surely, on the soul” Ernest Dimnet• “An architect is the drawer of dreams” Grace McGarvie• “Architecture is music in space, as it were a frozen music” Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von Schelling• “Writing about music is like dancing about architecture.” Laurie Anderson
How is Theory related to research Methodology?Theory describes, explains, and predicts.Research methodologies are:1. Prescribed ways to test and prove or disprove those descriptions, explanations, and predications.2. Provide a means by which theoretical claims to applicability beyond the particular case can be affirmed, modified, or rejected.Theories are more general, but research methodologies are more specific.
Good Fit• There are usually “good fits” between Theory and Method (strategy).
4.2. The Framework of Theory in GeneralSix components of a theory (Moore)1. Propositions/observations about some aspect of the universe (something visible and knowable)2. Logical connections between the propositions (abstract factors)3. A set of conclusions drawn from #1 and #2 that the logical connections can be used to predict the propositions or observations
4.2. The Framework of Theory in GeneralSix components of a theory (Moore)4. Linkages to empirical reality; i.e. assumption that the factors in #2 can be used to accurately represent empirical reality. (Empirical is: Relying on or derived from observation or experiment: empirical results that supported the hypothesis. Verifiable or provable by means of observation or experiment: empirical laws. Guided by practical experience and not theory, especially in medicine.)5. A set of assumptions or presuppositions underlying the theory.6. Testability of the theory: related both to its internal logical coherence (understandable by others) and its applicability to other cases.
4.2. The Framework of Theory in General2 added components of a theory (Moore)1. Disciplinary domain2. Philosophical axioms
Example of an Architectural Theory• David Canter Theory of Place• Physical environments take Physical on significance as a result of the interaction of three domains: Physical locale, Activity performed in that Activities Meanings locale and the meanings assigned to that union of place with activity.• “Constituents of Places”
4.3. Different Ways to Conceptually Divide Theory in General4.3.1. Positive vs. Normative Theory• Positive theory: Descriptive and explanatory – Identify causal links - Predicts future behaviors of objects based on identified causal links. (definite, scientific, logical rigor)• Normative theory: Describe, explain and predicts future behaviors based on long-term usage or accepted, but not proven “truths”. These do not have the same rigor of proof (testing) as positive theory and can have a variety of results. (Design or architectural theory)
John Lang “Creating Architectural Theory”• Architectural theory: Behavioral concerns related to the process of designing environments. Design Positive Current fields Theory Normative Theories Design Positive fields Proposed Theory Normative Theories
4.3. Different Ways to Conceptually Divide Theory in General4.3.2. Big, Medium and Small Theories• Big theories are large in scope—link several phenomena into one explanatory framework that is transferable to other disciplines• Small theories are limited in scope—localized explanations of things, not necessarily transferable to other situations• Medium theories have a little of both and are useful within a certain discipline, but will not have wide applicability across disciplines
Example of Middle-range Architectural Theories• Privacy• Personal Space• Territoriality• Aging and the environment• Environment and crime
Example of Middle-range Architectural Theory• Dan Cuff “Excellent Buildings”• Consumers or public• Participants in the design process Consumer• The Architectural Profession Designers Profession
4.3. Different Ways to Conceptually Divide Theory in General4.3.3. Polemical Theories of Design• Polemic: A controversial argument, especially one refuting or attacking a specific opinion or doctrine. A person engaged in or inclined to controversy, argument, or refutation.• In this case, different “theories” of architectural design that take opposite or varying stances on a certain concept.
Example of Polemically Theories Related to Design Activities• Set of visual attributes Pugin “pointed gothic architecture”• How cultural time should be expressed in architectural form Ginzburg, Venturi “Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture”• How natural processes ought to be expressed in material form Sullivan “Form ever follows function”
Scientific Theories vs. Theories of Design• Designers tend to discuss ‘theories’ of what should be done”• Scientists refer to ‘theories’ of “what might be the case” Scientific Design Theories Theories
4.3. Different Ways to Conceptually Divide Theory in General4.3.4. Prediction vs. Persuasion• Positive Theory identifies “causal” links that lead to “predictions” of future behavior.• Design “theories” tend to have less predictability (no causal links, testing), and are based rather on rhetoric and persuasion (generalizability depends on how subjectively universal it claims to be or how much it is understood by a large group of people; i.e. cultural).• Positive and polemical design theories emerge out of a cultural context.
Example of Polemical Architectural Design Theories• Mies “Less is More” – Machine aesthetic – Human identity
Example of Polemical Architectural Design Theories• Sullivan “Form Ever Follows Function”It is the pervading law of all things organicand inorganic,Of all things physical and metaphysical,Of all things human and all things super-human,Of all true manifestations of the head,Of the heart, of the soul,That the life is recognizable in its expression,That form ever follows function.This is the law.
A Theory is the link between a philosophy and the strategies and tactics of research.
Philosophy Theory MethodPhilosophy Theory Strategy Tactics
4.3. Seven types of researchSeven types of research explained in the book include:1. Interpretive-historical2. Qualitative3. Correlational4. Experimental5. Simulation6. Logical argumentation7. Case study
4.3. Seven types of research 4.3.1. Interpretive-historical• Philosophy: The world is coherent and can be known through narratives.• Tactic: Use empirical evidence from the past• Sources: Archival material, public and private documents, the site, interviews of eyewitness, comparison with similar situations, re- enactment of key actions or events• Example: Rybczynski Home: A short history of an idea – the evolution of home from the medieval period to the late 20th century. Why ideas first emerged? Privacy, intimacy, comfort, hygiene, family home, …
4.3. Seven types of research 4.3.2. Qualitative• Interpretation of contemporary situations• More subjective with emphasis on the role of the researcher: background, gender, point of view, …• Philosophy: Pure objectivity is impossible particularly of complex social-cultural settings.• Example: Gans Levittown, New Jersey: post WW2 housing boom, planned communities• Theory: New community development, how much of town planning is affected by builders and residents, is suburban life bad? Rapid growth vs Slow growth.• Tactic: Participant-observer, open-ended questionnaires, interviews, notes narrative.
4.3. Seven types of research 4.3.3. Correlational• Philosophy: “Real World Experience”. Much of life experience cannot be explained purely by causal connections, many things cannot be linked to a specific cause, in situations involving human beings, reducing experience down to specific causal variables is hard to do and unethical. Tries to show that while certain variables have strong relationships with other variables, there does not have to be proof that one variable causes the other.• Strategic: Well-defined variables.• Example: Newman High-rise vs Low-rise public housing in NY – Crime - Defensible Space
4.3. Seven types of research 4.3.4. Experimental• Philosophy: Causal connections. Scientific, objective, and quantifiable, seeks causal connections between two variables with a reliably predictable result.• Tactic: Manipulate a variable within controlled setting and observe effect of that variable on behavior, material data.• Example: Brandle and Boehm triple-glazed windows performance• Example: Zeisel senior citizens’ residence
4.3. Seven types of research 4.3.5. Simulation• Philosophy: How reality is constituted? How can one know it? Descartes I think therefore I am.• Theory: Knowledge of reality can be obtained by reproducing that reality in some substitute medium. Clipson Iconic, analogues, operational, and mathematical. Porter Computer.• Example: Airflow in an interior space.• Will computer modeling replace physical models? Pros and Cons? Engagement with buildings or even 3D models result in more “embodied” sense of ultimate form.
4.3. Seven types of research 4.3.6. Logical argumentation• Philosophy: System – definition, parts, relationship, delimits, connection to other systems in logical manner. Necessity, contingency, induction vs. deduction, a priori and posteriori formulations.• Tactics: Attempts to place a well documented thing within a systematic framework that explains the thing.• Example: March & Stiny Shape Grammar – systematic way of understanding formal composition
4.3. Seven types of research 4.3.7. Case study research• Philosophy: Conceptual container.• Contain one or more other research approaches or can be used as one of several devices under the umbrella of a single research.• Tactics: Several case studies can be compared to reach a general set of observations.• Example: Moos & Lemke Group housing for the aged.