Research Narratives in Architecture

What is architectural research? Unpacking a research project

A monthly lunch-hour faculty research seminar
The purpose of these presentations is look under the hood at a single research project, in order to understand:

  • what the research question is,
  • what research methodologies are used,
  • how a project is funded,
  • who participates in it and how,
  • what the research findings are, and
  • how those findings are disseminated.

The objective of the seminar is to give faculty, students and staff a better sense of the breadth of research undertaken in the school, to demystify the process, and to better understand how to get involved in these projects or to start new ones.

Winter 2023

Seminar 1: Researching the Barrack - Robert Jan van Pelt

Date: February 13

The barrack, defined here as a temporary building cobbled together by soldiers in the field out of materials at hand, or put together from prefabricated elements, has been a building type that in the past 200 years has been produced in hundreds of thousands to provide instant shelter during natural or man-made catastrophes, but it has largely escaped the attention of architectural historians and theorists—mainly because so few of these buildings survive as almost all of them were pulled down after the emergency passed.. In an eight-year-long research project, partly supported by SSHRC grants, Robert Jan van Pelt has reconstructed the fascinating history of this building type, which was decisively influenced by key figures in the history of military medicine. UWSA coop students provided decisive help in reconstructing many of the barrack types on the basis of often scanty information. The result is a 150,000 word long 188 illustrations rich monograph that is ready for publication.

Seminar 2: Quality of housing

Date: February 27

Waterloo Region has been experiencing a boom in the construction of high-rise condominiums, provoked by a number of factors including: the region's location within the urban agglomeration of Southern Ontario's Greater Golden Horseshoe, Canada's high immigration targets, the Region's knowledge economy, and new investments in local and regional transit that have increased urban connectivity. The rapid construction of these buildings to capitalize on their profitability, raises serious questions about their environmental and social effects. They constitute a significant percentage of building in the Region and their construction, operation and maintenance will contribute significantly to the Region's greenhouse gas emissions. These buildings are built for the growing number of tech workers in the region and they gentrify central urban areas, displacing lower-income residents, while doing nothing to address the Region's protracted crisis of homelessness. In order to better understand these problems this research team will undertake a longitudinal study of high-rise buildings built in the region in different eras of housing in order to better understand possible futures and potential failures of contemporary buildings.

This research is part of 5 year national partnership grant studying quality in the built environment, with 14 research sites across Canada. 

Faculty Research Team:
Arfa Aijazi
Mohamad Araji
Andrea Atkins
Adrian Blackwell
David Correa
Maya Przybylski

Seminar 3: AAHA: Not for sale! - Adrian Blackwell and David Fortin

Date: March 6

Description: School of Architecture professors Adrian Blackwell and David Fortin, and members of the Architects Against Housing Alienation (AAHA) organizing committee will share the planning in progress for c\a\n\a\d\a's official representation at the Venice Biennale for Architecture, opening on May 20, 2023– "Not for Sale!"–an architectural campaign that makes demands for de-commodified and deeply affordable approaches to housing across the country.

As a crucial element of the campaign, students will study within the pavilion in Venice doing research and design to deepen, extend and realize its 10 demands.

Fifteen students from Waterloo Architecture will have an opportunity to do their fall 2023 3B term in Venice studying in Venice. The school is actively fundraising to support this student experience. If you have an interest in participating, please attend this seminar to find out more.

Remote video URL