The new age of University funding and accountability is exposing a serious weakness in architecture as an academic pursuit. As a profession, architects in practice present a protectionist and elitist image supported by a secretive and narrow approach to the development of their own professional knowledge base. Current research trends in architectural academia accentuate this position. Philosophical discourse is increasingly the major means of establishing a research profile for young academics, many of whom undertake limited practical experience before embarking on an academic career. The result is a weakness in the level of applied research currently being undertaken in architecture schools, a trend that will continue to widen the gap between theory and practice and further limit the development of a strong and appropriately broad professional knowledge base. As a means of exploring valid alternatives, this paper will present two models of architectural research - the art of making as evidenced by a national award winning built work in Broken Hill, and the science of investigation as evidenced by five successful Australian Research Council, Cooperative Research Centre for Construction Innovation and Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute research proposals. This paper will commence with a summary of each project outlining the collaborative partnerships involved and the research aims in each case. The paper will then explore the differences between the two types of design research and conclude with a brief critique of current funding mechanisms, specifically addressing the opportunities for architects to contribute to the research agenda more broadly through cross-disciplinary collaboration.
2nd International Conference of the Association of Architecture Schools of Australasia. Design + Research: Project Based Research in Architecture (Melbourne 28-30 September, 2003)