2019 - ongoing
Change Now, Architecture Later!

image: Baustopp Jetzt! NBL at the Klimastreik 21, © Matthew Crabbe
a practice-based investigation of collective learning processes as part of a disciplinary transformation

︎︎︎ Practice-based PhD Thesis
︎︎︎ Supervisor: Prof Eike Roswag-Klinge
︎︎︎ Work in progress

This practice-based research sets out to investigate the societal, institutional and disciplinary narratives and challenges facing educators, students and project partners as participants in emergent and collective learning processes.

The 2020’s condition of constant crisis continues to deliver urgent new narratives for change that can only be satisfied by immediate and constant action. Yet architecture practice is still faced by some hard truths regarding the climate emergency, resource scarcity, diversity and ultimately its relationship to an intransigent building sector. The changes facing the next generation of practitioners will be profound and permanent. As teachers, we are constantly in contact with students who will form this next generation and question some of the outdated values and assumptions at the core of the architecture profession. Their values and ideology, formed in early practice experiences can, and will exert a lasting and positive effect. As practitioners we also have the freedom to bring new knowledge, innovation and approaches into reality through pilot projects, prototypes and processes. As researchers we document, theorise, innovate and challenge with a view to ultimately improving our practice. We are in constant motion, but we still have to consider the big picture - whether what we are doing is good, right or effective? The investigation looks to formulate these questions in relation to societal, institutional and disciplinary narratives and find new ways of reflecting on my practice at Natural Building Lab since 2018.

Full Abstract (PDF)

Complete Winter 2022

Practice Element I: Conceptual Roadmap, © Matthew Crabbe
︎︎︎ Practice element: Conceptual Roadmap
︎︎︎ New Identities in Architecture Practice
︎︎︎ Collective Pedagogy
︎︎︎ Approaching Research
︎︎︎ Reflection on part I

I have often given the advice “just start somewhere”. Rather than genuinely being a starting point, part I is more a middle point or a marker - hence the title “Start Somewhere”. There are several inspirations for my approach to this section. In his Manifesto for Performative Research, Brad Haseman talks of practice-led researchers constructing “experiential starting points from which practice flows [1].” Gray and Mailins compare a contextual review in art and design to “mapping the terrain [2]” over which the investigation will travel. The term Contextual Review reflects that the input for the thesis exists in a wide range of media and not simply in literature. Thus the To locate a valid line of enquiry for the thesis, the first practice element is a “contextual roadmap”, which visualises where my inputs have come from and how they relate to each other. Moreover, as a reflective mapping exercise, the mapping allows me to focus on some key turning points in my development and question the origins of my positions.

Reading List Part I

1 Haseman, Brad. ‘A Manifesto for Performative Research’. Media International Australia Incorporating Culture and Policy Practice-led Research, no. 118 (2006): 88–106.

2 Smith, Hazel, and Roger Dean. Practice-Led Research, Research-Led Practice in the Creative Arts. Practice-Led Research, Research-Led Practice in the Creative Arts. Edinburgh University Press, 1999.

Ongoing Winter 22-23
Part II: New Ways of Looking?

︎︎︎ Practice element: Narrative Storytelling
︎︎︎ Visually
︎︎︎ Reflectively
︎︎︎ Discursively
︎︎︎ Physically
︎︎︎ Reflection on Part II: New ways of looking

Part II: New Ways of Looking focuses on the methods and medias of investigation themselves and the different ways of looking that these approaches can enable. The second practice-element uses photography as a visual media to reflect on the way that a series of photographs can transport specific themes and emotions. The investigation of media encompasses methods that I have used over the last 5 years to document and investigate our teaching practice and range from visual media like photography and film, to reflective formats of discussion and journaling, to the physical manifestations of practice such as artefacts or perfomance. In revisiting these media and assessing their strengths and weaknesses, Part II is not only a reflection on my practice at NBL but also an attempt to see some events or developments through different eyes and to capture new insights by, “thinking in the medium of expression with the specific challenges and insights this offers.” [1]

[1] Badura, Jens, Selma Dubach, Anke Haarmann, Dieter Mersch, Anton Rey, Christoph Schenker, and Germán Toro, eds. Künstlerische Forschung: ein Handbuch. 1. Auflage. Zürich Berlin: Diaphanes, 2015.

Summer 23
Part III: Room for Improvement?

︎︎︎ Practice element: ??
︎︎︎ Global narrative for change
︎︎︎ Transformation in higher education
︎︎︎ Gaps between intention and practice
︎︎︎ Reflection on Part III: Room for Improvement?

Winter 23-24
Part IV: Same Old or Different?

︎︎︎ Practice element: Workshop
︎︎︎ Requirements of architectural training
︎︎︎ Formats of architectural training
︎︎︎ Spaces of architectural training
︎︎︎ Reflection on Part IV: Same Old or Different?

all content © Matthew Crabbe