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Architectural design research in small practices

Ayşe Zeynep Aydemir (Department of Architecture, MEF University, Istanbul, Turkey) (School of Architecture, Royal College of Art, London, UK)
Sam Jacoby (School of Architecture, Royal College of Art, London, UK)


ISSN: 2631-6862

Article publication date: 3 January 2023




There has been a recently growing interest by architects in practice-based research and the impact of research. At the same time, several post-graduate architecture programmes with practice-led research agendas were founded. This shift towards architectural design research is analysed using the notions of “process-driven research”, “output-driven research” and “impact”. The study aims to investigate and unveil the link between graduate programmes and graduates with a research interest and to test the tripartite model of “process-driven research”, “output-driven research” and “impact” in the context of small architectural practices.


The study uses a qualitative and exploratory research approach that includes 11 in-depth interviews conducted in 2020, during the first nationwide COVID-19 lockdown in the United Kingdom (UK) selected interviews were architects representing (1) members or alumni of practice-related graduate architecture programmes in London and (2) founders of London-based small architectural practices within the last decade.


While focussing on the London context, the paper offers transferable insights for the key potentials of practice-led design research in small architectural practices and the actions that might improve research practice.


This paper addresses a lack of studies on how design research differs between diverse types and sizes of architectural firms, why emerging small architectural practices increasingly engage with research and how this shapes their practice. This knowledge is important to fully understanding architectural design research and its strengths or weaknesses.



This paper is produced as a part of a postdoctoral research project supervised by Professor Sam Jacoby, funded by the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TUBITAK, grant number 1059B191801865) and undertaken at the Royal College of Art, School of Architecture in London.


Aydemir, A.Z. and Jacoby, S. (2023), "Architectural design research in small practices", Archnet-IJAR, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.



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