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Special Collection

PhD by Design: Mapping, Reflecting, Modulating

Collection launched: 02 Jul 2021

Picture Credit: Collage by Christoph Michels: Creative Commons CC BY-SA 3.0 Image rights: Ice boulders on Lake Superior, Duluth, MN by Sharon Mollerus, CC BY 2.0; Rotring Isograph by Lucasbosch, CC BY-SA 4.0; Electrical technician when connecting a cable on a cable pole, Bavaria (Germany) by Reinhold Möller, CC BY-SA 4.0; Climber by Jay Miller, CC BY 2.0.

The issue seeks to explore various approaches of research by design at PhD level. The contributions are derived from the ERASMUS+ research project ‘PhD by Design: Mapping Conceptual Groundings, Reflecting Methodological Approaches, Modulating PhD-Curricula’ and its closing conference held in September 2020, which both aimed to contribute to the understanding and development of design-based PhD programs in the disciplines of architecture and urban design.

Many schools of architecture and urban design have during recent decades initiated and implemented PhD-programs. As a way to challenge the implementation of curricula that import existing formats from disciplines with strong research traditions in the natural or social sciences – where research problems located at the “core” of architecture and design practice remain largely unaddressed – many schools have taken initiatives to develop design-based education on PhD-level. The research project aimed to map some of these approaches in order to interrelate and position the various streams of research by design, and by that contribute to a reflexive positioning and elaboration of new and existing PhD programs. The contributions in this issue aim to provide insights into conceptual underpinnings, methodological tools and cultures of curricula, that can support further development of research education at design schools.

Guest Editors

Nel Janssens, Jo Liekens, Fredrik Nilsson