research & Research definitions [OED]


research: the act of searching, closely or carefully, for or after a specified thing or person (in detective stories in 1577, in 1794, and in Bronte’s 1847-search for an overnight accommodation) also means investigation, inquiry into things, art practice, personal quests and clues of evidence which a detective must decode. [OED]

Research: in partnership with the word development, work directed towards innovation, introduction and improvement or products and processes. all listed usages are from chemistry, architecture, physics, heavy industry and the social sciences. It is professional practice.

design as research as in applied research where the resulting knowledge is used for a particular application/ action research where the action is calculated to generate and validate new knowledge and understanding/ fundamental research



Christofer Frayling, 1993. Research in Art and Design. In Royal College of Art Research Papers, Vol 1, No 1, 1993/4

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Research by Design by R. Roggema


(Herbert Read)

  • Research into or about design: it is the most straightforward research practice in art, design and architecture. This is historical, social, technical, material research, with countless models from which it derives its rules and procedures, similar to science of design/ HOW CAN I TELL THAT I THINK TILL I SEE WHAT I SAY? 
  • Research through or by design: material-based research, development work and action research: practical experiments, step-by-step diaries describing a resulting report that aims to contextualize it, report and diary communicate the result which is what separates research from gathering the referenced materials.. similar to design science. materials research-development work-action research (Frayling)/ HOW CAN I TELL WHAT I THINK TILL I SEE WHAT I MAKE AND DO?
  • Research for design: development work whose end product is an artifact, the thinking is embodied in the artifact, the goal is not primarily communicable knowledge, the gathering of reference materials rather than research proper, similar to scientific design/ HOW CAN I TELL WHAT I AM TILL I SEE WHAT I MAKE AND DO? 

Research by Design is a type of academic investigation through which design is explored as a method of inquiry, by the development of a project and also exploring the different materials by which a design is carried out-sketches, mapping, among others(…) it is a strategy used to describe the various ways in which design and research are interconnected when new knowledge is produced about the world through the act of designing (Barbosa et al., 2014)

Research by Design five models: artistic/intuitive/ adaptive/ analytical and systematic.

  • Pre-design research phase: characterized by understanding, prior to design, aims to bring a basic perception, connecting starts with end-users, stakeholders and experts, potential answers and future design directions, verification of whether the problematic situation is indeed a wicked problem that requires a design inquiry approach
  • Design Phase: interactive exchange with agents, the designer integrates implementation into the nature of inquiry, future potentials are projected, based on programmatic demands a suite of proposals are developed and rationalized (…) in the Design Studio students and tutors may engage in a research partnership of mutual problem investigation (…) Design is both method and outcome
  • Post-Design Phase: final synthesis of the work, coherently presented, new knowledge becomes available for a wider audience through a strategic and conscious communication, interactive process ends here, research and design are decoupled.

New definition:

Research by design is a method, which uses design to research spatial solutions for a certain area, accommodating a design process, consisting of a pre-design phase, a design phase and a post-design phase, herewith providing a philosophical and normative basis for the design process, allowing to investigate the qualities and problems of a location and test its (spatial) potentials, meanwhile creating the freedom to move with the proposals in uncharted territory, and producing new insights and knowledge interesting and useful for a wide audience.



  • Rob Roggema, 2016. Research by Design: Proposition for a Methodological Approach. In Urban Sci. 2017, 1, 2; doi:10.3390/urbansci1010002
  • Christofer Frayling, 1993. Research in Art and Design. In Royal College of Art Research Papers, Vol 1, No 1, 1993/4
  • DeQueiroz Barbosa E.R., DeMeulder, B., Gerrits, Y., 2014. Design Studio as a Process of Inquiry: The case of Studio Sao Paulo. In AE… Revista Lusófona de Arquitectura e Educação Architecture & Education Journal 241, Theme I, No. 11, pp. 241-254

Image available here

10 characteristics of good design research


  1. Disruptive: viewing the world in alternative futures/new perspectives
  2. Useful: it must serve a defined purpose
  3. Messy: good design makes you think and this is inherently messy/ it requires untangling using approaches that do not oversimplify
  4. Political: it must clarify its stance on the world’s significant challenges
  5. Impactful: it must create an affect on, a change or a benefit
  6. Critical: it must challenge perspectives
  7. Enduring: it should provide us with a profound revolution in viewing the world not just hot topics
  8. Does not need qualification: the importance of design research lies in its rigor, relevance, quality and impact not in its particular types of design
  9. Thoughtful: it should address difficult issues
  10. Clear: it must be self-explanatory



Paul Rodgers, Joyce S.R. Yee, 2016. Design Research is Alive and Kicking… In Proceedings of DRS 2016: Design + Research + Society Future–Focused Thinking, (eds Peter Lloyd and Erik Bohemia), Published by the Design Research Society, pp.

Image available here

About the image:

The design research map is defined and described by two intersecting dimensions. One is defined by approach and the other is defined by mind-set. Approaches to design research have come from a research-led perspective (shown at the bottom of the map) and from a design-led perspective (shown at the top of the map). The research-led perspective has the longest history and has been driven by applied psychologists, anthropologists, sociologists and engineers. The design-led perspective, on the other hand, has come into view more recently.

There are two opposing mindsets evident in the practice of design research today. The left side of the map describes a culture characterized by an expert mind-set. Design researchers here are involved with designing FOR people. These design researchers consider themselves to be the experts and they see and refer to people as “subjects”, users”, “consumers”, etc. The right side of the map describes a culture characterized by a participatory mind-set. Design researchers on this side design WITH people. They see the people as the true experts in domains of experience such as living, learning, working, etc. Design researchers who have a participatory mind-set value people as co-creators in the design process. It is difficult for many people to move from the left to the right side of the map (or vice versa) as this shift entails a significant cultural change. (Richard Anderson, 2011)

Design and Science_Cross


  • 1920’s search for scientific design products: Van Doesburg attested that modernity was hostile to subjective speculation
  • 1960’s concern for a scientific design process: the 1962 conference on design methods in London marked the launch of design methodology as a field of inquiry (…) the movement sought to base the design process on objectivity and rationality (…) Fuller called for a design science revolution, Simon plead for a science of design
  • The new ‘Design Methods Movement’ developed through a series of conferences in the 1960s and 70s. The first design methods or methodology books also appeared in this period – Hall (1962), Asimow (1962), Alexander (1964), Archer (1965), Jones (1970), Broadbent (1973) – and the first creativity books – Gordon (1961), Osborn (1963).
  • 1970’s marked a backlash against design methodology (…) Alexander and Jones renounced the machine language, the attempt to ‘fix’ the world in a logical framework (…) there had also been a lack of success in the application of design methods to everyday design practice (…) design and planning problems were characterized as ‘wicked’ instead of ‘tame’.
  • 1973, Rittel saved Design Methodology by his proposal of Generations of Methods. He suggested that what had been developed in the 60’s was only the first generation of methods (systematic, rational) and that a second one was beginning to emerge (recognition of appropriate solution types and an argumentative participatory process in which designers are partners with the problem-owners -clients-).
  • 1980’s-1990’s emergence of new journals and books of design research, theory and methodology [Hubka (1982), Pahl and Beitz (1984), French (1985), Cross
    (1989), Pugh (1991)] (…) and through a series of international conferences- aka ICED, ASME and VDI (…) 1980’s Design:Science: Method Conference signaled the time to move beyond the simplistic comparisons and distinctions between design and science (…) the epistemology of design had little to gain for the disarray of the epistemology of science (…) AI developments
  • 2000’s signals perhaps the reemergence of design science concerns

  • Scientific Design: it refers to modern industrialized design (…) it was based on the assumption that that modern industrial design had become too complex for intuitive methods (…) through the reliance of modern design upon scientific knowledge, design made science visible utilizing a mix of bioth intuitive andnon-intuitive design methods
  • Design Science: term coined by B. Fuller or Gregory in 1965 (…) recognize laws of design, develop rules (…) logically connected knowledge in the area of design (…) DS to address the problem of determining and categorizing all regular phenomena (…) DS derives from the applied knowledge of the natural sciences appropriate information (…) an explicitly organized, rational and wholly systematic approach to design
  • Science of Design: study of designing may be a scientific activity (Grant) (…) a federation of subdisciplines having design as the subject of their cognitive interests (Gasparski and Strzalecki) (…) it is the study of design; its principles, practices and procedures (…) it is the body of work that attempts to improve our understanding of design through scientific methods of interpretation.
  • Design as a Discipline: an epistemology of practice implicit in the artistic, intuitive processes which some practitioners bring to situations of uncertainty, instability and value conflict (Schon) (…) study of design as an interdisciplinary study accessible to all those involved in the creative activity of making the artificial world (simon) (…) design studied on its own terms, within its own rigorous culture



Nigel Cross, 2001. Designerly ways of knowing: design discipline versus design science. In Design Issues 17(3), pp.49-55

Nigel Cross, 1993. A history of Design Methodology. In Design Methodology and Relationships with Science, pp. 15-27, Kluwer Academic Publishers

Image available here



Competence in design praxis appears not to be measured by the quantity of knowledge gained, but by knowing where to find it, which specific kind of knowledge to apply in a particular situation, and how to use it when needed. It is the development of thinking skills that is critical in design education (…) there is more in knowing how to design than just knowing about designs. Meta-knowledge is the knowledge of how to organize what one knows (…) knowledge acquisition is based upon the organization and development of conceptual structures (…) in order to model design thinking processes, the conceptual mapping of design ideas can be constructed into larger structures, the think-maps.


Think maps

  • they are founded on constructivism (active learner/learning by doing) and mapping (organizing and representing knowledge)
  • they propose that by constructing a map that reflects one’s thinking in a domain, we make knowledge learned explicit. they attempt to convey knowledge directly.
  • they are a cognitive teaching framework based upon the student’s ability to organize and formulate knowledge structures in design thinking.

A concept map is a representation of knowledge structures through a graphlike
structure of nodes and links (…) a map is achieved when a meaningful structure has been created (…) an important distinction is frequently made between in-domain linkages in the map and cross-domain linkages (…) Think-Maps is a form of conceptual mapping for design


Rivka Oxman, 2004. Think-maps: teaching design thinking in design education. In Design Studies 25, pp. 63–91, doi:10.1016/S0142-694X(03)00033-4

Images available here

Knowledge claims


  • Claims of fact: those that can be verified or falsified, proven true or false
  • Claims of value: value judgments
  • Claims of policy: what should be done instead of what is being done
  • Claims of concept: those that are about the meaning of things
  • Claims of interpretation: how are some data understood

The authors claim that natural and social science publications tend to make singular knowledge claims of similar kinds whereas design publications often contain multiple knowledge claims of different kinds.

Multiple knowledge claims of different kinds within individual journal publications might be the consequence of a young, multidisciplinary field. Another explanation might be that scholars publishing in Design Studies tend to embrace the values of design and science, which may account for those publications making claims of fact and claims of policy. Finally, a third explanation might be that scholars publishing in Design Studies are writing for multiple audiences with diverse needs. (bold is mine)



Jordan Beck, Erik Stolterman, 2016. Examining the Types of Knowledge Claims Made in Design Research. In she ji, Tongji University and Tongji University Press.

Image available here

The Walkshops


Many of the routines and standard practices of academic life do little to actively explore and experiment with the structure of working environments, spaces and relationships thus the social and ethical aspects of modern science. They do even less to address the importance of contextual and embodied dimensions of thinking (…) Through walkshops, we have spent several days walking together with our colleagues and students in open outdoor spaces, keeping a sustained intellectual discussion on ethical aspects of science, technology and innovation while moving through these landscapes (…) The value of both using the outdoors and walking as a way to stimulate reflective thinking have been appreciated and documented in various fields: Aristotle/Rousseau/ Heidegger/Human Geographers/ etc (…) What the move from the indoors to the outdoors or from the campus to the mountains offers for us is rather an altered nature/culture dynamic, different materialities, and a change in degree, going from a relatively static, controlled, secure environment to a more varied, dynamic and challenging terrain (…) More concretely, the value that we have experienced using this approach includes: the ability to use the materiality of a landscape as a tool for facilitating reflection, the capacity to productively alter social dynamics through enabling embodied encounters and challenging existing hierarchies, and the power to alter established patterns of thought through the combination of unmediated outdoor experiences with different social dynamics.



Fern Wickson, Roger Strand, Kamilla Lein Kjolberg, 2015. The Walkshop Approach to Science and Technology Ethics. In Sci Eng Ethics (2015) 21:241–264, DOI 10.1007/s11948-014-9526-z

Image taken form the walkshop implemented in June 2016 for NTUA postgraduate course ‘Methodological Tools of Analysis for Creating Strategies of Integral Urban Interventions’ in collaboration to the Urban Emptiness Network.

The experimenter


  • chooses the experiment
  • observes, determines the outcomes
  • carries out the actions
  • is influenced by social factors and accepts them
  • continues until the system begins to perform as desired/ required
  • determines when enough is done
  • redesigns the experiment if it doesn’t work
  • forms the outcome
  • assembles different observation in a coherent whole
  • may tie the outcome into theory
  • may rerun the experiment with a new arrangement of variables to check repeatability



Ranulph Glanville, Researching Design and Designing Research. In Design Issues Vol. 15, No. 2, Design Research (Summer, 1999), pp. 80-91

Image available here

Design studio education in the online paradigm


This is my paper from Athens EDUCON2017. It presents the reader with an understanding of the affinities between the traditional design studio education and connectivism. It also offers insight on the synergy of in-class and online sessions through the presentation of a hybrid urban design studio undergraduate course that ran in NTUA during 2016-2017 winter semester.

Full paper available here

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

History of Open Education


  • Barth 1971: Open Education is used here to designate a general approach to teaching and learning which presumes the child’s right and competence to make important decisions; views the teacher more as a facilitator of learning than a transmitter of knowledge, and abundant alternatives and choice for students
  • Katz 1972: Open education movement is the commitment to humanistic values including self-determination, freedom of children and aesthetic appreciation.
  • Resnick 1972: while the open education movements and educational technology are often seen as mutually hostile, the challenge in education for the future is to find ways to develop the full range of each individual’s capacities
  • Paquette 1979: Open Pedagogy is not an assemble of pedagogical processes applied in a classroom that allow results as any other pedagogy. OP influences the way of thinking and acting, it is an innovative way to envisage the educational act (..) it is focused on the interaction that exists in a class between the students and the educational environment (…) it is founded a. on the respect of individual differences, b. on the individuals’ beliefs, c. on the indirect influence of the educator and d. on a natural process of apprenticeship
  • Paquette 1995: 3 sets of foundational values of open pedagogy, namely:  autonomy and interdependence; freedom and responsibility; democracy and participation.
  • Gremmo and Riley 1995: “Autonomous learning” has been shown to be a fruitful approach and one that impinges on every aspect of language learning theory and practice, in all parts of the world. However, one important lesson which has been learnt from this work is that self-directed learning schemes and resource centers have to be planned locally, taking into account specific institutional requirements and expectations, the particular characteristics of the learners and staff, including the socio-cultural constraints on learning practices. There is no universal model for setting up a self-directed learning scheme (…) One of the first “tailor-made” resource centres was established by CRAPEL at the University of Nancy (Riley and Zoppis, 1974; also in Riley, 1986)
  • Laura Gibbs and Stacy Zemke 2015: 1. open = agency — Learners are individuals and independent agents within the learning process. They are allowed to operate independently and explore with personal freedom./ 2. open = choice — Learners choose their own pace, their own direction, and their own connections./ 3. open = expansion — The learning network is an open-ended and ever-expanding network of nodes. Each node in the network represents is a connection, a possibility for learning. Everything in the network is a project./ 4. open = creativity — Openness translates to rich possibilities that inspire new perspectives and ideas./ 5. open = student-constructed — Learners take responsibility for their learning networks and are active participants in its planning and growth./ 6. open = open-ended problems — Learning design is focused less on specific outcomes or competencies than on process. It is about empowering learners to create real solutions to real problems./ 7. open: unmeasurable outcomes — Traditional outcome measurement implies the learning is static and closed./ 8. open = risk and goodness — Choosing often leads to unexpected and unpredictable results. While there is risk associated with the unknown, there is even greater reward and goodness.
  • Wiley 2015: open= free+permissions/ free and unfettered access, perpetual, irrevocable 5R permissions (retain, reuse, revise, remix, redistribute), open= democratizes innovation, permits innovation (…) open pedagogy: a set of things you can do when outcomes, assessments, and resources are open that you cannot do otherwise (…) openness facilitates the unexpected. 
  • Downes 2016: “In the case of personal learning, the role of the educational system is not to provide learning, it is to support learning. Meanwhile, the decisions about what to learn, how to learn, and where to learn are made outside the educational system, and principally, by the individual learners themselves”



Dr Vivien Rolfe, University of the West of England, Bristol UK. Open. But not for criticism? In Opened16 Conference, available here

Claude Paquette “Quelques fondements d’une pédagogie ouverte.” Québec français 36 (1979): 20–21. available here

MARIE-JOSI~ GREMMO and PHILIP RILEY , AUTONOMY, SELF-DIRECTION AND SELF ACCESS IN LANGUAGE TEACHING AND LEARNING: THE HISTORY OF AN IDEA, System, Vol. 23, No. 2, pp. 151-164, 1995 Elsevier Science Ltd Printed in Great Britain, available here

NEXTTHOUGHT, Laura Gibbs and Stacy Zemke, Eight Qualities of Open Pedagogy, available here

David Wiley, The Open Education Infrastructure, Keynote presentation for Open Apereo 2015, available here (Frischmann’s,  Von Hippel’s and Thierer’s work)

Downes 2016, Personal and Personalized Learning, available here 

Tannis Morgan, Open pedagogy and a very brief history of the concept, available here

Image available here

2017 EDUCON Conference, Athens


It was rather crowded in the Plato room where I was presenting today, yet only one more architect was present. This is indicative of how involved architectural schools are with online education. Nevertheless, the audience was great and I am glad I was there to share our work. (More on this paper will be published shortly).

Another interesting aspect for me was realizing that most people present were discussing centralized systems of content sharing, monitoring and control. Seems to me the condition of the current educational online practices in engineering education is much more influenced by the core principles of xMOOCs and the intensification of student performance rather than simply enjoying the benefits of having a much larger playground to experiment with in terms of teaching and learning.

I think what I mean is that people were too tight when discussing their projects. They were also very eager to prove that technology has helped them significantly in increasing student interest. Somewhere between colored charts and impressive diagrams I missed their stand and their passion. I don’t think this should be a competition of who does it better or more efficiently. I’d rather see people trying things out and struggling with new ideas -even failing at times- rather than finished products.

Overall, I am glad Athens has hosted such an event, I hope there will be more conferences like that to follow and with substantially more architects present!

*In the photo, Demetrios G. Sampson from Curtin University in Perth Australia, is showing how learning analytics can be retrieved through moodle plug ins. 

That’s all FOLC!

FOLCThe Fully Online Learning Community (FOLC) is a reduced social-constructivist learning model based on communities of inquiry model (CoI). FOLC particularly responds to four problems related to the transformation of higher education in an increasingly globalized and digitalized knowledge society:

  • the limitations of distance learning and MOOCs
  • the call for greater development of 21st century competencies desired by influential organizations such as the World Economic Forum and the Conference Board of Canada
  • the needs of transformative and emancipatory learning as conceptualized by Human Rights Education
  • the requests from some international partners for new models of learning aligned with democratic and socio-economic reforms

FOLC is based on the following concepts:

  • Social Presence: The ability of learners to project themselves socially and emotionally in a community of inquiry
  • Cognitive Presence: Four-phase procedural model, considered a generalization of scientific method, begins with a triggering event, and subsequently moves through phases of exploration, integration, and resolution
  • Teaching Presence: is here eliminated in favour of a more democratized approach to learning, one which places much greater emphasis on the community and learner empowerment.
  • Digital Space: FOLC recognizes four fundamental dimensions of human-computer-human interaction (technical, informational, social, and epistemological/computational) and their accompanying competencies as prerequisite layers supporting SP, CP, and collaborative learning. It offers well-established practices for the selection and use of digital affordances to foster fully online community learning.
  • Democratized learning: as a term, it is a loose, boundary construct with scattered presence in the literature: A. it deals with processes of learning not about democracy/ B. it addresses the fact that at the microlevel education tends to be authoritarian/ C. it emphasises on the deepening democracy/ D. it gains strength through digital technologies

Key themes emerge in relation to FOLC educational environments, including:

  • collective identity and responsibility: to build interpersonal relationships; to promote distributed responsibility for refining knowledge through challenging feedback that triggers cognitive dissonance; to encourage divergent thinking.
  • freedom and flexibility: adults share both structure and control of the digital space, respecting diverse personal learning needs, and working together to improve performance; individuals bring a variety of digital tools and skills to the FOLC
  • authenticity: an authentic context; authentic tasks and activities; access to expert performances; multiple perspectives; collaboration; reflection; articulation; coaching; authentic assessment
  • community and criticality: FOLC represents a joint enterprise understood and continually renegotiated by its members; fosters relationships of mutual engagement; establishes a shared repertoire of resources that members enthusiastically share



Todd J. B. BlayoneRoland vanOostveenWendy BarberMaurice DiGiuseppe and Elizabeth Childs, Democratizing digital learning: theorizing the fully online learning community model, in International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education201714:13, DOI: 10.1186/s41239-017-0051-4, available here

Image available here